This is a buyer’s guide for the MG3 model. It is not a review or complete list of faults but is intended to be a general guide of what to look out for on a used MG3, something you can print off ad take with you to a viewing.
What is it?
The MG3 is a 5 door supermini from MG. It focuses on being good value and is marketed as having a sporty driving experience. It is currently available with one engine and gearbox combination, a 1.5 VTi-Tech 4 cylinder petrol engine generating 105bhp. This is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. There is no automatic gearbox currently offered in the UK. A small capacity turbo model is rumoured in the near future as the current engine required more than a remapping of the current engine to make it Euro 6 compatible. As of January 2017 sales seem to be dropping as it becomes comprehensively outclassed. In better news it’s selling well in Thailand.
There are four models in the MG3 range, all are available with accessorise options.
The entry model MG3 3TIMEcosts £8399 and features a CD player with MP3 compatibility and Aux-in facility. It is also supplied with some very questionable plastic wheel trims.
The mid-range MG3 3FORM which is available from £9299. In addition to the standard specification it comes with air conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and audio streaming, leather MG-design steering wheel with red stitching and steering wheel audio controls.
The MG3 3FORM SPORT includes all the features of the mid-range 3FORM with the sports body styling pack and 16-inch Carousel alloy wheels at £9549.
The final specification grade available is the range-topping MG3 3STYLE which is offered with 16-inch Diamond alloy wheel and a sports body styling pack that includes the rear boot spoiler and side sill extensions. Standard features include cruise control, automatic lights and windscreen wipers and reverse parking sensors, all for only £9999.
What should I look out for?
In general the MG3 is well built but it does come with some niggling faults. The following is a list of things buyers should watch out for and check.
Front LED ‘Hockey-stick’ lights: These can fail without warning. Usually one rather than both fail on new models. It doesn’t appear to affect all cars but it is worth checking that they have been replaced under warranty. Make sure there isn’t a colour difference between the two lights. They should be replaced in pairs to avoid this.
Clutch: Due to the failure of a small rubber seal near the bulkhead the clutch can appear to fail. Symptoms generally involve the clutch pedal going to the floor however it can be intermittent. This is easily rectified by dealers however not all appear to be aware of the fault which makes it difficult to identify the cause.
Sub frames: These have been known to be misaligned on new cars. This causes excessive tyre wear. It has also been known to cause a knocking noise in the front which can be hard to trace.
Brakes: Front brake pads can wear quickly due to poor quality pads being used. Discs appear to wear well. The rear brakes can suffer from a slight unbalance in braking due to iffy quality of the brake shoe linings, leading to rapid wear in the rear shoes on one side. A number of owners have reported that their cars have been in for wheel cylinder replacement due to seal failure. Check for leaks around the rear drums.
Door seals: These can leak and allow water in. They are replaced under warranty but the fix does not always work. Check for evidence of leaks.
Rear parking sensors: The sensors on the rear bumper are poorly weather sealed. This can leak to them staying on or not working at all in wet conditions. So far these have been fixed under warranty or by owners sealing them better. Either way, make sure they work.
Stereo: Some owners have reported issues with the radio, from not picking up reception, not turning off and not picking up Bluetooth devices. Again these seem to be rare but be aware they do happen.
Interior: There are a number of reports of ill-fitting trim on new cars however most dealers rectify this once it’s brought to their attention.
Warning lights: There are reports of cars showing erroneous warning lights including the engine warning light. Some require a dealer visit to reset them while others disappear themselves. While this doesn’t stop the car from functioning it has proved a great annoyance to owners and a head scratching issue to resolve for dealers. It has also been known to affect the fuel gauge leading it to give a false fuel level reading.
Over-Rev between 1st and 2nd gear: Some cars are known to suffer an over-rev between 1st and 2nd gear. This affects earlier cars and appears to have been cured on later cars. There are no ill effects from this other than it can cause annoyance to some owners. The fix for this being employed by owners is to stick a pound coin to the back of the clutch pedal (seriously this isn’t a joke). It cures the over-rev with no other issues.
British or Chinese built? There is a healthy debate whether the cars are British or Chinese built. While most of the assembly of cars takes place in China they are mostly finished in the old Longbridge factory however some MG3’s have been imported fully complete from China. This has been blamed on the fact the Longbridge plant cannot keep up with demand. Chinese built cars can be identified via the 11 digit VIN which will read “SDPZ1CBDADSxxxxxx” while Longbridge cars completed from CKD kits will read “SDPZ1CBDADDxxxxxx”.
Engine Issues: Reports are beginning to emerge from multiple owners of cam chain failure. Chains are slipping a cog and this leads to poor running and starting and will ultimately lead to engine failure. MG are slow to honour warranty repairs however this appears to be a localised dealership issue being caused by MG being slow to pay out on warranty claims. Always check the car starts easily and runs smoothly.
Most owners appear to have positive experiences of the MG3 despite niggling faults. They report fuel efficiency of between 36-40mpg in general depending on usage conditions. Owners praise the nimble handling offered by the MG3, the low list price, high specification and graphics packs. However owners bemoan the amount of niggling faults hit and miss dealerships, poor backup, fuel economy and finally residuals.
It must be noted that the resolution of these niggling issues often depends on the dealership involved. Some are excellent and knowledgeable while others are not as willing to resolve issues in a timely manner.
This is simply a guide of all issues I have encountered on owners forums. It is not a complete and comprehensive list of faults. As with all used cars please ensure you run appropriate background checks and ensure all necessary servicing has been carried out.