MG 3 reinvented with bold new look and hybrid power

MG 3 reinvented with bold new look and hybrid power



Hybrid combines 101bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with 107bhp electric motor to give a combined 192bhp and 313lb ft

Chinese brand's all-new supermini claims 64mpg and quickest acceleration in class for around £20,000

The MG 3 has been reinvented for a second generation, adopting a bold new look and switching to full hybrid power in a bid for supermini sales supremacy.

Set to be priced higher than before, at around £20,000, the 3 is due in the UK in the coming months as a rival to the Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz, majoring on practicality, efficiency and compelling performance.

The new-look 3 is one of 20-plus new MG models launching globally in the next three years - half of which will be “new-energy vehicles”.

It was designed at the firm's Shanghai design studio, taking stylistic influence from the Chinese brand's current crop of crossovers and hatchbacks, and is slightly longer and wider than its pure-ICE forebear.

Its new Hybrid Plus powertrain – MG's first non-plug-in hybrid offering – combines a 101bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 107bhp electric motor to give a combined 192bhp and 313lb ft, making it markedly more potent than the Clio and Yaris hybrids - and quicker too, with a 0-62mph time of 8.0sec.

Whereas the old 3 offered a five-speed automated manual or four-speed automatic gearbox, from launch the new car drives its front wheels through a three-speed auto, with a manual option coming later.

MG touted the performance benefits of this system "over the commonly used CVT transmission often found in hybrids", claiming its three-speeder avoids lag to give more responsive acceleration.

For reference, the CVT-equipped Yaris needs 9.2sec to complete the 0-62mph sprint.

The extra poke doesn't come at the great expense of efficiency; MG claims the 3 will offer a combined 64mpg – almost 20mpg up on its predecessor – and have vastly reduced CO2 emissions, at 100g/km, both figures that stack it up neatly against its French and Japanese rivals.

A 1.83kWh battery gives the 3 enough juice to cover short distances at speeds of up to 50mph with the engine off, but it can also be driven in Series mode – with the engine functioning as a generator – or as a parallel hybrid, where the two power sources work in tandem to give the full 192bhp output. MG has confirmed a pure-petrol option will join the line-up in time.

The firm also said that its engineers in China and Europe have collaborated to ensure the 3's dynamics are fine-tuned for the requirements of various global markets and that as a result it "offers a refined drive but keeps MG's 'fun to drive' ethos at its core".

Precise details of its chassis are thin on the ground, but MG said it benefits "from the use of new ultra-high-stiffness components" and that the suspension has been made lighter and tuned to give higher grip.

It also delivers "new highs in refinement and noise suppression", apparently, courtesy of optimised engine mounts and new sound-absorbing materials throughout the chassis.

The 3's cabin is an all-out departure from its predecessor, ushering in new 'floating' twin screens – a 7.0in driver's display and a 10.25in infotainment touchscreen – that feature new-look graphics and are more responsive.

The 3 will be sold in two trim levels in the UK. Standard equipment on the SE includes smartphone mirroring, four USB ports and a rear parking camera. The Trophy adds faux-leather seats (heated in the front), keyless entry and a 360deg parking camera.

The 3's wheelbase is now 50mm longer, at 2570mm, which should free up leg room in both rows of seats. More significant is the increase in boot capacity that comes from the longer overall footprint: at 298 litres, the 3 now has one of the largest boots in the segment.

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