One of the oldest and yet best-selling cars on sale in Australia could be getting replaced.

The current MG 3 has been in production since 2011, making it well overdue for a replacement – and finally a potential successor has been spied.

Images from the Chungking MG Club, shared by Cochespias, depicts a small hatchback with MG badging and a decidedly more aggressive look that shares some cues with the larger MG 5 sedan.

There’s a sharp prow with slimmer, more angular headlights than the current car and a lower, wider grille.

It has a less boxy profile, with the sharp crease under the current car’s beltline making way for a lower crease that fades into the rear door, re-emerging and kicking up over the rear fenders before meeting the tail lights.

Said tail lights are now horizontally oriented, and are somewhat reminiscent of those on the MG ZS crossover.

The spied prototype’s dashboard is completely shrouded, but we can see door panels with sharply creased detailing, and diamond-patterned cloth upholstery. The funky fabrics of the current car are nowhere to be seen.

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 spy photos indicate, however, there is a next-generation light hatch in the works that will wear MG badging.

Autocar reported late last year a next-generation MG 3 would launch before the end of 2024 and stick with petrol power, albeit with the possibility of a mild-hybrid or hybrid option.

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”.

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

William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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