The same week spy photos were published of a new MG-branded light hatch, the new vehicle has been revealed courtesy of a patent filing.
The filing on the European Union Intellectual Property Office, published on August 3, shows the exterior of the light hatch.
While the filing doesn’t list a name or dimensions, this appears to be a light hatch and the presence of an MG badge suggests this is the long-awaited MG 3 replacement.
The front end styling is much more aggressive, aligning it visually with the MG 5 now arriving in Australian showrooms.
There’s somewhat of a “shark nose” effect, with the grille being lower and wider than that of the current car.
The bumper also has sportier, more intricate detailing, while the overhang appears longer overall than the current car.
With the camouflage out of the way, we have a better look at the rest of the body, which is much more curvaceous than the current MG 3.
Instead of a sharp crease below the belt line that’s similarly arrow-straight, the new car has a crease that arcs up from the headlights and then down at the rear doors.
There’s a separate crease that then rises up at the rear doors and connects to the tail lights, which are now horizontally oriented and more closely resemble those of the ZS crossover.
There’s also a more sharply detailed rear bumper. The images also show the new MG will be offered with a single-pane sunroof.
While the patent images don’t depict the interior, the recently spied prototype appears to have more sharply creased detailing on its door trims, as well as diamond-patterned cloth upholstery.
Unfortunately, the prototype’s dashboard was completely shrouded.
MG currently offers a hybrid in a version of the ZS SUV in Thailand, called the VS.
It combines a 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine with 80kW and 142Nm (similar to the base ZS sold here), a 70kW and 200Nm electric motor, and a 2.1kWh lithium-ion battery.
Maximum system power is 130kW, and fuel consumption is reportedly as low as 5.8 litres per 100km.
Don’t expect an electric version of the next-gen MG 3, however.
“Developing a small electric car is only marginally cheaper than developing a bigger car,” MG UK commercial director Guy Pigounakis told Autocar.
“Then half the price is battery so it becomes a £25,000 [A$44,000] car which is unaffordable”.
MG Motor Australia has previously indicated it intends on staying in a segment so many rivals – including Ford and Honda – have vacated.
“Everything is under consideration but we could essentially take other models from our parent company, which could then take that [MG 3] nameplate”, said a company spokesperson in March.
In other markets, the MG nameplate is applied to vehicles from LDV/Maxus and Roewe – which even includes vans – but these brands don’t currently offer light cars.
These images indicate, however, there is a new MG hatch coming – and its design language makes it very clear this is no mere Roewe rebadge.
While the MG 3 is one of MG’s lower-volume models in Europe and the UK and is no longer sold in China, it remains extremely popular in Australia.
The MG 3 started as a recycled Rover following SAIC Motor’s acquisition of MG Rover assets.
It was a rebadged version of the Rover Streetwise, effectively a black plastic cladding-covered version of the Rover 25 hatch that was only ever sold here in hot MG ZR guise.
The current model replaced it in 2011, and has received two facelifts – the most recent being in 2018.
Despite its age and the lack of an ANCAP rating (only an expired three-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2014), the MG 3 has grown in popularity and now holds a whopping 42.4 per cent share of its segment.
In base guise, it’s also the second cheapest vehicle in Australia, behind only the base Kia Picanto.
MG has no plans to stop offering affordable models like the MG 3.
“We all know we’re living in increasingly difficult times in terms of affordability, so from our perspective whilst I talked about value, we’re not walking away from value and still need to use products like that to give people the opportunity to have a brand new car with a seven-year warranty and plenty of features”, said MG’s marketing boss, Rick Whaite in March.
MORE: Everything MG 3