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by Matt Campbell

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MG is a venerable British brand… wait, wait. MG was a venerable British brand, once upon a time. But it isn’t that any more.

The latest offerings to bear the MG badge simply don’t live up to anything that you would expect of such an iconic marque.

I mean, they are kind of cute. And I guess most MGs that have come before them have been cute, too. But if you delve beneath the attractive styling (and outlandish sticker packs on the cheaper MG 3 model – pictured below), you will find a pair of vehicles that fall short of what we’ve come to expect in this day and age.

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That’s partly because the now-Chinese-run MG brand kicked off with these models years ago, and there haven’t been any massive changes since then.

Back when they launched, they were globally considered behind the times … so imagine what they’re like now, when they’re launching as all-new vehicles in what is regarded to be the most competitive automotive market on the planet.

The MG 6 (pictured below) was launched in Australia back in 2013 and only a few vehicles were sold. That’s mainly because there was no presence for the brand – nobody knew that it was coming back (maybe some people they were targeting had never even heard of MG before?) and those who may have cared were likely polarised by the brand’s new turn.

But it’s also partly because the cars were crap. There was no automatic option – although that has changed with this updated model that arrived in late 2016 – and it fell short in many other ways, including fit and finish, and value.

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It’s still too expensive as well, starting from $21,990 plus on-road costs for the base model, up to $25,990 plus on-road costs for the high-spec.

I reckon, for this sort of vehicle, you shouldn’t be paying more than $22,000 for the top-spec. It’s a ‘new’ brand for many, and there is simply no brand awareness out there. Even if you could get it at that price, it’d be a $22,000 bargain.

The cheaper model, the light MG 3, is also too expensive despite starting at just $13,990 plus on-road costs. Yes, that’s right – a sub-$14,000 car is too expensive, so that tells you just how the MG 3 really stacks up.

Look, I’ll be fair – these cars corner okay. The 3 in particular is quite fun – in a perverse kind of way, because it’s so underpowered that it feels like the chassis is up for whatever you’re gonna throw at it.

But, as with the MG 6 that came a few years ago, the MG 3 arrived with a big handicap – there is no automatic transmission option available, in a part of the market where about 85 per cent of buyers choose automatic. Bup-bowwww.

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It’s not just that, either: there is no rear-view camera option on the cheaper car, and the asthmatic 1.5-litre four-cylinder is probably the worst engine on sale in any car today. And, while most modern manual transmission vehicles are easy to drive, this thing will have you bunny-hopping and driving like an amateur.

Oh, and did I mention that the MG 3 managed just a three-star score in the Euro NCAP crash test in which it was entered way back in 2012? Keep in mind that the crash test authority has made it tougher to score higher since then, so it may not even manage those measly three stars if it were tested today.

I understand that there are people out there who love the MG brand and will appreciate a new, modern take on it. Just consider that the cars that are on sale here in Australia right now are neither new, nor modern.

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If there’s a redeeming feature of the new MG in Australia, it’s that the brand is under the control of the company that builds it – SAIC Automotive – rather than a distributor, and the company is backing its vehicles with a six-year warranty and six-year roadside assist program.

That’s not bad. It’s better than the warranty offered by big brands like Ford, Holden, Honda, Suzuki, Nissan, Mazda and Toyota. But is that really enough to make you lay down your hard-earned cash on a risky new brand? Probably not, unless you really like the cutesy looks…

I personally don’t think the MG badge deserves this kind of treatment. And I don’t think Australians deserve this calibre of car.

If you’re after a budget car, there are literally dozens of better options than either the MG 6 or the MG 3.

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