2022 MG 3 Review

If the MG 3 had a five-star safety rating we would have no hesitation to recommend this city car as a great cost-conscious offering, but...

Alborz Fallah
Alborz Fallah
Founder
Published
PROS
  • Hard to fault for the asking price
  • Decent infotainment technology
  • Drivetrain is reasonable for urban environments
CONS
  • Non-existent safety rating
  • Lacking modern active safety features
  • Ride can be firm on average roads

MG is very much moving in the direction of becoming a serious contender to the likes of Toyota, Mazda, Kia and Hyundai. It has been outselling brands like Honda and Subaru for some time but the way it’s going, it will likely be giving Hyundai some sleepless nights in the coming years.

Part of that success has come from its ability to offer a lot of equipment for not so much cash. Add in a five-star safety rating for cars like the MG HS and ZS EV and you start to realise why around 36,000 Australians bought an MG in the first 11 months of this year.

There’s one model in the MG line-up that appears to be an outlier, and that’s the MG 3.

First introduced to the world in 2011, the second-generation MG 3 has changed substantially since its debut. Now on to its second facelift (from 2018), the 2022 MG 3 is the best-selling light car in the country with 13,000 sales between Jan-Nov 2021.

In a market where used car prices have risen substantially due to new car shortages, the MG 3 is not only available and in stock, it makes a lot of sense against second-hand cars. The elephant in the room with the MG 3 is its low safety rating, but we’ll get in to that later.

Despite its success and popularity, getting access to an MG 3 to test and review has been… rather challenging to say the least.

Thanks to a CarExpert reader, we find ourselves behind the wheel of a bright yellow MG 3. To protect their privacy, we have hidden the number plates.

How much does the MG 3 cost?

There are two variants of the MG 3, the base model 2022 MG 3 Core (tested here) which is currently advertised for $17,990 drive-away (up $400 from earlier this year) and the slightly higher-spec 2022 MG 3 Excite which comes in at $19,490 drive-away (up $800 on last year’s pricing).

Although the MG 3 is the cheapest automatic car in the country, it’s more expensive than the soon-to-be discontinued Mitsubishi Mirage ES manual at $14,990 list ($17,490 drive-away) and the 2022 Kia Picanto S manual at $15,690 list ($17,990 drive-away).

It will cost you another $1500 to get the Mirage with an automatic, and another $1600 for the auto in the Kia, putting them in a similar price point to the more spacious MG 3.

Read: The 10 cheapest cars on sale in Australia

What do you get?

The base MG 3 Core comes with the following standard features:

  • Reversing camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Wired Apple CarPlay
  • Cruise control
  • Four-speaker sound system
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Tartan fabric trim

Satellite navigation is a $500 option on the MG 3 Core.

The MG 3 Excite adds the following:

  • Leatherette and tartan fabric trim
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Satellite navigation

Is the MG 3 safe?

Well, the technical answer is that there is no ANCAP safety rating for the MG 3. Not only that, it misses out on autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist, and driver attention monitoring, plus a few things that are now pretty much standard in cars a level up such as the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30.

Despite lack of local crash testing (which is somewhat bizarre given ANCAP’s own website simply says untested, despite the car’s popularity), there is an Euro NCAP safety rating of the pre-facelift model from 2014, which rates the car at three stars – though this rating has now ‘expired’ in 2021.

It’s important to point out that a 2014 safety rating score is very different to a 2022 score and the criteria for getting even that three-star rating is now substantially more difficult than before.

Only recently Euro NCAP rated the Renault Zoe zero stars.

The lack of a modern safety rating is the main question mark hanging over the MG 3’s head, especially compared to cars like the Kia Picanto that managed a four-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017, or the Mitsubishi Mirage and its five-star ANCAP rating from 2013.

What you will find is that the modern safety test is less to do with actual crash resistance and more to do with features that help prevent those crashes (which are genuinely as important, if not more so).

For those looking at the MG 3 or similarly-priced vehicles, the question of safety should be put in context of other cars at the price, new or old. For the same $18,000 spend, you can find yourself in a five-year old Volkswagen Polo (with about 100,000km) which has a five-star safety rating from 2017, or a previous-previous generation Mazda 3 or Toyota Corolla.

The question really comes down to new car v old car, and that is very much a personal choice for many.

What is the MG 3 like on the inside?

It feels very much like an $18,000 car on the inside. Although the MG 3 surprises with some modern features like its high-resolution 8.0-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay, and an actual leather-wrapped steering wheel (take note Toyota), it by no means exudes any form of luxury or premium feel.

Considering the base model Toyota Corolla has a plastic steering wheel and looks not all that much better inside (in fact, the MG 3 has more soft touch plastics), it’s hard to really criticise the MG 3’s interior given the price.

We would go so far as to say, the front seats are actually comfortable, and you would have no issue sitting there for extended periods of time.

The four-speaker stereo is decent, as is the reversing camera.

The rear seats are also pretty decent and given the MG 3 is a much larger car inside than the Mirage and Picanto, it can be a more comfortable place for those looking to utilise the rear seats more frequently.

The MG 3’s quoted luggage capacity is 307L, increasing to a maximum of 1081L with the rear seats folded.

You really don’t need to pay the extra $500 for satellite navigation if you have an iPhone, given it will mirror its significantly better navigation system to the MG 3’s large screen via Apple CarPlay.

What’s under the bonnet?

The 2022 MG 3 is available only with one powertrain: a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 82kW of power and 150Nm of torque, mated exclusively to a four-speed automatic transmission.

The company claims it will use 6.7L of fuel per 100km, and the MG 3 drinks 91 RON unleaded.

UPDATE, 20/12/2021: Despite the fuel filler sticker on our test car claiming owners need to fuel the MG 3 with 95 RON, MG Motor Australia has confirmed it will in fact drink 91 RON. We’ve updated our story accordingly.

If you intend to actually go anywhere with some level of vigour and enthusiasm, the engine will be working a fair bit harder, resulting in fuel economy closer to the 8.0L/100km mark.

How does the MG 3 drive?

Look, it’s pretty slow. You wouldn’t expect it to be a rocket ship, but it really needs you to flatten the accelerator to get any kind of overtaking done on the highway. Even then, that’s not something you want to do all that often.

It will absolutely get the job done as an inner-city car for commuters, but if you intend to do lots of driving across highways in the country where overtaking trucks is a regular requirement, we would probably recommend something with a little more power.

The MG 3 isn’t not slow enough to be painful though, and the decision to go for a four-speed automatic transmission in lieu of a CVT makes the driving experience less droney, and more engaging.

We found the transmission at times hesitant to drop down a gear to get going, but if you drive it often and get used to its character you will better understand how to extract its (limited) power.

We found the ride of the MG 3 to be on the firmer side. It tends to absorb a fair bit of poorly-surfaced roads and pass that vibration and harshness through the cabin.

You do feel a lot through the seat and steering wheel. Although this is probably unnoticeable to most drivers who are jumping into perhaps their first car or coming out of an old car, it’s sub-par compared to competitors like the Picanto.

Overall, we rate the MG 3’s on-road manner as decent for inner-city and urban driving where the roads are smooth and the highways are infrequent, but outside of that we suggest an alternative choice.

How much does the MG 3 cost to run?

The 2022 MG 3 has a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Around the middle of 2021, the brand added fixed-price servicing to the MG 3, with the prices below:

12 months / 10,000km$243
24 months / 20,000km$285
36 months / 30,000km$279
48 months / 40,000km$330
60 months / 50,000km$243
72 months / 60,000km$321
84 months / 70,000km$243

CarExpert’s Take on the MG 3

In the current market of high used car prices, never before has an MG 3 made more sense for so many first-car buyers on a tight budget.

With a seven-year warranty, decent infotainment technology, and reasonable servicing costs, the MG 3 is popular for a reason.

If the car had a five-star safety rating we would have no hesitation to recommend the city car as a great cost-conscious offering.

But as it stands, it really comes down to what a safety rating means to you, and whether you’re amenable to the idea of buying a five, six, or seven year-old used car without warranty with an older ANCAP rating, or if you’d prefer a modern car with warranty that lacks that surety.

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Alborz Fallah

Alborz has been writing about cars since 2006 when he launched CarAdvice. He is an honourary adjunct professor at the Uni of QLD and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine. Despite having reviewed and driven thousands of different cars, he still can't work out how to replace a windscreen wiper.

Ratings
Overall7.1
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 7.5
Ride Comfort 6
Fit for Purpose 7
Handling Dynamics 7
Interior Practicality and Space 7.5
Fuel Efficiency 7
Value for Money 8
Performance 6.3
Technology Infotainment 7.9
Pricing
Top Line Specs
6.7L
82kW
159g
Not tested
View all specifications

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