NEW MGs COME TO TOWN: It may not be the 'same' MG of old but the automaker's new stylish hatchback is worth a second look if you're on the hunt for something different in the SA car market. Image: Quickpic
CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – One has to wonder what it takes to convince South Africans who are searching for a new car how good their range of vehicle choice really is - whether for business, leisure or simply in which to get around.
There’s no longer a place for sub-standard or mediocre vehicles from ANY automaker – such products just would not be considered by South African buyers. I assume one still makes a list of priorities when looking for that new set of wheels, with build quality, driver appeal and standard safety features uppermost in one’s mind.
BRAND'S 90-YEAR PEDIGREE
There’s amazing power with potentially huge fuel savings available from smaller engines these days along with superb built-in safety (passive and active) and creature comforts about which we could but dream only five years ago.
Take heart if you’re struggling to find a suitable replacement for the old family hatch – or if you’re a first-time buyer looking for something different: the new MG3 super-mini could be just the ticket from a car brand that has real pedigree and will be celebrating its 90th birthday in 2014!
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 MG3 in SA
Yes, I know it’s not quite the same MG car company with which older generations will be familiar – largely due to the parent company now being Chinese – but there’s very little wrong with that. Consider this and the relevance of it all (if you’ve just crawled out from under a rock you might be a little confused about who owns what in the world of car brands):
Volvo, that ultra-safe and conservative automaker, is now Chinese-owned (Geely); Tata, an Indian industrial conglomerate, owns Land Rover and Jaguar; while another Indian company, Mahindra, owns SsangYong; Hyundai owns Kia; Renault owns Nissan; Fiat owns Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati and Ram; Subaru is owned by Fuji Heavy Industries/Toyota; while the above-mentioned MG3 is designed and styled in Longbridge in the UK but owned by Chinese car company SAIC*.
A closer look at the MG3 which has just arrived at 15 MG dealers across South Africa (with another 10 to come through 2014) reveals a compact, eye-catching and spacious four-door hatch to be sold through Mandarin Motors as part of the Combined Motor Holdings group of companies.
Derrick Bishop, MG South Africa’s general manager, told Wheels24: “Now the wait is over – but it’s all been worth it.” [He was referring to the long delay in getting the vehicles into South African showrooms since they were showcased at the 2013 Auto Africa show nearly a year earlier.]
THREE SPEC LEVELS
Three MG3 models have made the final cut though the basic model (±R145 000, arrives November); Wired (±R165 000, also arrive November) but the flagship Style is in stock now at R179 000.
This is a smallish car but with a big cabin. Perhaps one that’s a little austere thanks to a penchant for black plastic – albeit of seemingly good quality; it all nevertheless seemed to be well screwed together remaining rattle- and squeak-free throughout the 90km test run over some really bumpy terrain.
The new MG3 definitely stands out from the crowd thanks to its sporty exterior, with its full-width black mesh grille incorporated into the colour-coded front sport design bumper, black A and B pillars, ‘wraparound’ windscreen and sleek lines.
The designers and engineers seemed to have combined well to create an exceptional amount of space for all occupants – especially rear. The hatch, doors and bonnet feel solid; lots of sound-deadening material is fitted throughout the cabin to keep engine/wind noise, vibration and harshness levels as low as possible.
Standard equipment on the Style - the only model show at the launch in Cape Town on September 10 2014 - revealed good-looking 16” alloy rims with the central octagon MG motif proudly prominent; aircon, power-assisted steering and power windows, remote control for the central locking, a good sound system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity and hands-free phone integration. There’s also a multi-function steering wheel, trip data computer and day-time running lights.
'TO HAVE FUN WITH THEIR MG'
All derivatives have the same 78kW 1.5-litre engine and five-speed manual gearbox. Factory fuel consumption figures suggest an “average use” fuel consumption of 5.8-litres/100km.
MD Bishop told us: “MG became world-famous for building distinctive British small fun cars at a remarkably affordable price that owners could personalise. The MG3 is the new small modern MG that allows a new generation of people to have fun with their MG.”
Current MG models, including the MG3, are sold with a three-year or 100 000km warranty with a two-year or 60 000km service plan and a year’s AA membership.
For the traditionalists among us, modern MG cars are designed and engineered at MG’s historic home in Longbridge, near Birmingham in central England. Today, MG is owned by the SAIC Motor Corporation, 103rd on the Fortune 500 and which in 2013 achieved record global sales of more than 5.1-million vehicles – an increase of 13.71% on 2012.
SAIC Motor is the first Chinese automotive manufacturer to exceed five-million units in a year and 230 000 units of that can be attributed to MG (and SAIC’s domestic Roewe brand) worldwide.