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MG officially unveils its MG3 customizable hatchback supermini

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June 12, 2013

MG unveils its MG3 hatchback (Photo: Gizmag)

MG unveils its MG3 hatchback (Photo: Gizmag)

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MG summoned the British motoring press to Birmingham today for the UK unveiling of its MG3 supermini. The five-door hatchback is an attempt to bridge the gap between the functional and affordable hatchbacks on the market (think Ford Fiesta) and more iconic aspirational models (like the Mini). Despite the company's troubled recent history, it is confident that the brand still carries prestige. Though MG's engineers are split between the UK and Shanghai, MG's Global Design Director, Anthony Williams-Kenny, today emphasized that the MG3 is an example of British design.

"We believe good design is honest design," Williams-Kenny told those assembled, during a presentation in which British design icons including the Spitfire, 2012 Olympic Cauldron and Norman Foster's Gherkin were projected onto the screen. Were the audience not already familiar with the MG3's appearance, it might have been forgiven for expecting a radical rethink of the automobile. As it was, when the covers were whipped off, the MG3 beneath was identical to that shown off at this year's Shanghai Auto Show, which, as Angus MacKenzie noted at the time, is actually quite conservative so far as form factor is concerned.

That said, there are some fun touches, albeit superficial ones, which suggest that MG has learned from the launch of the MG6, regarded by some as a good car which under-performed in the market. This time round, MG is making a big thing of the MG3's customizabilty, the idea being that the car is as fun to buy as it is to drive. Not only will the hatchback be offered in 10 colors (including bold choices like "Cherry Bomb" and "Orange Marmalade"), buyers will also be able to choice between a range of decals. These range from the obvious (Union Flag roof) to the dubious (tire tire skids as a racing stripe), to the relatively tasteful (classic racing stripe). Particularly attention has been paid to the headlights, with the actual lamps branded and shaped into MG's octagonal logo.

The MG3 isn't the first car to have branded headlamps, but it's a nice touch all the same ...

The MG3 isn't the first car to have branded headlamps, but it's a nice touch all the same (Photo: Gizmag)

To find out what was under the hood, Gizmag spoke to MG engineering director Alan Anderson. Anderson confirmed that the MG3 is packing a 1,498-cc four-cylinder petrol engine with multi-point fuel injection. What does that mean for mileage? "We're still working on getting every last bit we can get out of that," Anderson says, adding that its mpg count will be competitive. Anderson did tell Gizmag that the MG3 achieves a top speed of 110 mph and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a shade over 11 seconds.

Under the MG3's hood (Photo: Gizmag)

Under the MG3's hood (Photo: Gizmag)

In terms of on-board gadgetry, the MG3 will include USB and auxiliary ports for connecting iPhones and the like. These are concealed in a stowage compartment where, Anderson surmises, drivers will naturally put their phones in any case. Music from the device can be routed through the car's audio system using the aux connection or via Bluetooth. Anderson also highlighted a smoothed-off area of the dash designed to take the suction cup of a tablet, phone or sat-nav mount.

By way of driver assistance the MG3 does come with a hill start assistance system and electronic brake and stability controls. Braking is also helped by a system which will wipe the discs in wet weather.

The MG3 has plenty of room in the back, as these two strapping 6-footers attest (Photo: Gi...

The MG3 has plenty of room in the back, as these two strapping 6-footers attest (Photo: Gizmag)

But how does one go about creating a design icon? "I think you have to wait for the public opinion on that, to a certain degree," Anderson says. "I think what we've really tried to do is to create a car which has got an elegant design, and as such will age very well, but at the same time we're giving people the opportunity to personalize it to their own taste. That's the key thing that this car offers."

In truth, MG has set about designing a hatchback that is customizable rather than iconic, and judging from what Gizmag saw today (such as a roof decal composed of computer smilies), the company has delivered in spades. You won't like all the options – that's the whole point – but provided you like the car itself, selecting a final appearance to suit your tastes shouldn't be difficult. Whether this will prove sufficient to make the MG3 a success, and reverse the fortunes of a company not long back from the dead, remains to be seen.

The MG3 is set to launch in the second half of 2013. Price is yet to be confirmed, but expect a starting price around the £10,000 (US$15,600) mark in the UK.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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8 Comments

I loved my 77 rubber bumper MGB. Will wait for the convertible.

JimD
12th June, 2013 @ 05:03 pm PDT

An econo-box that has adult sized back seats is always nice to see.

Slowburn
12th June, 2013 @ 05:26 pm PDT

I wish them every success ... too many brands have disappeared over the years, often not due to anything done by the company, just market (and the public) vagaries.

The Skud
12th June, 2013 @ 07:03 pm PDT

That car is so bland. The last time I saw something that bland was when those nutters at "Top Gear" tried their hand at making an OAP car by painting it the same colour as a Hearing Aid. I think it will be a short time indeed between this car going from "British Design Icon" to "Don't blame us, the Chinese did it".

Womp
13th June, 2013 @ 08:56 am PDT

What a pity. I was hoping for a bit more inventiveness. An other hatchback to. Boring. He will be as unrecognizable as so many other hatchbacks today. All of them look more or less the same. Is there nobody who has the courage to design something different ??????????

ikarus342000
13th June, 2013 @ 09:08 am PDT

As the erstwhile owner of an MGA (one of the loveliest cars ever built, in my opinion) and a long-time admirer of the MGB-GT and the full line of MG T-types, I'm terribly disappointed that this is the best MG can come up with, as if the world needed another Honda Fit.

DavidB
13th June, 2013 @ 09:42 am PDT

re; ikarus342000

Because practicality is so overrated.

Slowburn
13th June, 2013 @ 08:21 pm PDT

Toured much of the U.S. in my TF-1500 - back when MG stood for something different - and exciting. It appears that now it just stands for 'More Grist' - how sad.

OuldBill
16th June, 2013 @ 02:28 pm PDT
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