Review: MG 3 (2013)

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Cheap to buy. Cheap to run. Generous seven-year warranty. Extensive personalisation options. Interior hugely improved in 2018 facelift with the addition of Apple CarPlay.

Only one engine and it's an old-fashioned, naturally-aspirated petrol. Easy to see where costs have been cut.

MG 3 (2013): At A Glance

The MG badge might conjur up images of Union Jack bunting, tweed jackets and real ale, but MG Motor UK is keen to shake that off. Despite buying into the MG brand name, the firm's current owner - Chinese car manufacturer SAIC - produces cars that are very different to the MGs of yesteryear.

Today the firm concentrates its efforts on affordable runarounds to rival the likes of Dacia and SsangYong. The most popular of which is also the cheapest - the affordable little MG 3 hatchback. 

The MG 3 has loads of showroom appeal, thanks to a generous amount of standard kit, tempting finance deals and a heap of customisation options intended to appeal to the younger buyer.

A heavy revamp in 2018 saw the MG 3 tweaked with a new front-end, similar to that of the ZS SUV, while that interior is much improved with Excite and Exclusive models benefiting from an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto, though). 

The engine line-up is slightly disappointing, with only one offering - an ancient naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre petrol producing 106PS. Compared to modern turbocharged units, it's a bit thrashy and needs to be worked hard. It's also relatively uneconomical, officially returning 42.3mpg under WLTP tests, and emitting 140g/km CO2. Having said that, our Real MPG data reveals that MG 3 drivers see fairly close to the official fuel economy figure.

It's surprisingly fun to drive, if a little old school, with excellent steering. Its old fashioned approach will appeal to some, although there is quite a lot of wind and road noise at motorway speeds.

A low insurance group rating means the MG 3 will be cheap to insure, while the firm's generous seven-year warranty ought to put your mind at rest. This is fully transferable between owners, but limited to 80,000 miles. 

It's easy to turn your noise up at the MG 3. Compared to modern small hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza, it feels a number of generations behind. It's the same size of these cars, yet priced to rival smaller cars like the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo. It's the epitome of cheap and cheerful - not everyone will be impressed, but the MG 3 is a surprisingly likeable car that's very affordable to buy and run.

MG3 2013 Road Test

MG3 2019 Revamp Road Test

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What does a MG 3 (2013) cost?

List Price from £11,894
Buy new from £11,215

MG 3 (2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4018 mm
Width 1912 mm
Height 1507 mm
Wheelbase 2520 mm

Full specifications

The MG3 was given quite a hefty refresh in 2018, and later versions have a much improved interior compared to the original model. There's plenty of space up front and the materials used are of acceptable quality, if a long way from those used in the likes of the Volkswagen Polo.

A thick, leather-trimmed steering wheel (on Excite and Exclusive models) covered with buttons for the audio system does a good job of lifting a potentially drab cabin, but start to poke around and you'll see where costs have been cut.

There's an eight-inch touchscreen display on all but the entry-level Explore model. Strangely, it doesn't do much - there's no navigation or Android Auto, although it does cater for iPhone users with Apple CarPlay. It's simple enough to use although a little laggy to respond, with graphics similar to those used on a budget tablet.

Earlier models are now feeling dated thanks to flimsy materials and the lack of a touchscreen infotainment system. If you can afford to, we'd suggest opting for a later facelifted car.

Most drivers will be able to get comfortable easily enough thanks to generous head and legroom, although there's no reach adjustment in the steering wheel. Chunky pillars hinders over-the-shoulder visibility, but reversing sensors on all but the Explore help during parking manoeuvres.

There's more space in the rear than many mainstream rivals (although it's not as spacious as the Dacia Sandero). A pair of average sized adults will fit in without a fuss, while the boot's a reasonable 285 litres. Access to the boot is good, and it's a useful shape for carrying bulky items. The rear seats drop, too.

Standard equipment (2019):

Explore features LED daytime running lights, 14-inch steel wheels, radio with USB, Bluetooth telephone connection, tyre pressure monitoring, hill hold control, rear ISOFIX child seat points, fabric seats, tilt adjust steering column.

Excite adds air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, body coloured rear spoiler, body coloured door handles and mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, reverse parking sensors, eight-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming, remote centrol locking.

Exclusive comes with sports seats, cruise control, reversing camera, six speakers, map pockets.

Child seats that fit a MG 3 (2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the MG 3 (2013) like to drive?

Although developed in China, MG has made a number of changes to the 3 to make it suited to the UK market. It's been tweaked for UK roads and, although the ride quality is on the firm side, it's not uncomfortable.

It almost feels like an old school hot hatch to drive, with an eager chassis and nimble handling. That said, the only engine on offer is far from hot. The four-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol does without a turbocharger, so drivers used to modern small capacity turbo engines will find it lacking at first. There's little urgency low down in the rev range but that soon changes as you build the revs. Beyond 4500rpm it flies, meaning you're best to thrash it towards the limiter when overtaking.

This doesn't create for a relaxed driving experience, with a lot of noise and vibration making its way into the cabin as you try to hustle it along. The manual gearbox is direct enough to use but it has just five gears and there's no automatic option, so it feels quite buzzy on the motorway.

The hydraulic steering is lovely, offering lots of steering without being too heavy in an urban environment. Push it hard and there's an impressive amount of grip on offer, while also being a very safe and predictable car to drive. It's an ideal car for enthusiastic new drivers.

If you're not an enthusiastic new driver, the MG3 is still a fun car to drive around town. The steering is very direct and forward visibility is pretty good. There are a few blind spots which can hamper visibility when parking, but standard parking sensors are handy.

The ride quality is fine on smooth roads, but you'll wince when you hit potholes around town - especially on larger wheels. It's just not as polished as many rivals.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.5 47–52 mpg 10.9 s 124–140 g/km

Real MPG average for a MG 3 (2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

33–53 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the MG 3 (2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

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What do you think of the MG 3?

My daughter commutes from South Wales to Bristol every day. She has a 10 year old, high mileage Peugeot 207 and is thinking of buying a new MG - either 3 or ZS as there seems to be good deals available. New car must be petrol as Bristol is banning diesels next year. Is this a good idea and is the scrappage scheme worth considering? Many thanks.
MG offers good value for money. The 3 and the ZS won't win any prizes for refinement, but they are well-equipped and backed by a seven-year/80,000 mile warranty. As a long distance commuting car, I think they are a decent choice. MG's scrappage deal will give your daughter £2000 trade-in value, which is only worth considering if it exceeds the market value of your daughter's current car.
Answered by Dan Powell
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