Can the MG3 bring MG back to Britain? (China People's Daily)

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    patpending

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    Can the MG3 bring MG back to Britain? (China People's Daily)

    Post by patpending on Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:00 pm

    Thanks to David Knowles for spotting this:

    http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/n/2014/0730/c98649-8762665.html

    Can the MG3 bring MG back to Britain?
    By Sam Sheehan (People's Daily Online)    09:13, July 30, 2014

    MG must be mad. Despite Chinese owners investing millions in the reborn brand, UK sales halved between 2012 and 2013. A dismal 156 cars were sold across the whole of last year, representing just 0.01 per cent of the UK car market share. But for some reasons the MG Motor Longbridge plant is full of smiling workers, excited for the future. How then, can a carmaker that has come through such tough times be so optimistic? The answer comes in the form of its new MG3.

    The small B-segment hatch represents the second car to come out of Longbridge since it reopened in 2007, and it’s the car employees hopes will kickstart the return of MG. Priced from as little as £8,399, the five-door hatch is amongst the very cheapest new cars in Britain. As promising as it may be however, can a little car really carry the weight of an entire brand on its shoulders?

    On first impressions, it certainly looks that way. Already MG has experienced record levels of sales growth, rising by a staggering 574 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the year before. That represents a respectable 361 car sales, most of which will be MG3s. And the groundwork has been put in place for MG to continue with that growth, as the brand recently announced it has opened its 16th new UK dealership in 2014, pushing the total nationwide figure beyond 50.

    These decisions have been made with support from parent company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). As the largest automotive company in China, it knows a thing or two about selling cars, and further evidence for that comes from the brand’s international sales outside of the UK. A total of 5.1 million vehicles under the SIAC banner were sold in 2013, representing a significant 14 per cent increase on 2012.

    Success, clearly, could be right around the corner for MG, with experience from its successful Chinese parent and all of the right ingredients in place to maintain strong sales growth. All of these things were missing from the MG Rover Group - the last time the MG brand was used - before its demise and acquisition by SIAC in 2005.

    MG3 Driven

    We decided to sample the car that carries the hopes of MG’s UK success, in order to better understand what chances it has at tackling a very picky British market. Swamped with choices of established brands from Europe, British car buyers are often accused of ‘badge snobbery’ - buying a car based on its manufacturer’s reputation as opposed to the car itself.

    But with top of the range MG3s coming in at just £9,999, or monthly payments as low as £99, even high nosed Brits couldn’t ignore the affordable new Chinese-English hatch. And especially not when painted in the contrasting red and black colour scheme of the car we were handed. With sporty gloss black 16-inch alloy wheels matched by black accents across the red body, the little 3’s exterior should appeal to many young drivers.

    Inside things aren’t too bad either. A surprisingly low seating position (a nice change from the usual upright hatch seats) is accompanied by a leather steering wheel, digital radio and contrasting red trim, making the 3 a pleasant place to be.

    The chassis is great too, with Longbridge’s experienced engineers clearly working their magic on the suspension to give the car a playful yet balanced setup. The steering is light but very accurate, partly thanks to the fact it uses a hydraulic system - a rarity these days.

    The MG3’s achilles heel comes in the form of its 105bhp 1.5-litre VTi Tech engine. Whilst the peak power figure suggests the car could perform like a warm hatch, the real world usability of the engine mean it feels far slower. Anything below 4,000rpm and the engine feels very sluggish, making joining motorways and dual carriageways a serious effort.

    Efficiency isn’t great either, with our long motorway journeys returning less than 40mpg at 70mph. Since the engine has to work so hard to produce anything close to significant acceleration, fuel usage is high in town too.

    Having said that, aside from what’s under the bonnet, the car is a real star. And given that this is the new MG’s first entry into the world of B-segment hatchbacks, potential for future models is seriously high.

    Will It Bring MG Back To Britain?

    Despite having its strengths, the MG3 doesn’t even feel remotely connected to the iconic sports cars that bore the MG badge back in the mid 20th Century. Does that matter though? It depends what your beliefs are, but with the re-opening of Longbridge and the birth of 400 jobs, bringing MG back is certainly no bad thing. After all, the closure of the plant’s doors in 2005 caused a substantial 6,000 jobs to be lost directly, with many more indirectly lost from external suppliers and dealers. Potential to restore at least some of these jobs must surely be good.

    Though SIAC’s MG Motor is a long way away from returning to Longbridge’s once impressive levels of production, we must acknowledge things are at least moving in the right direction. And with the might of China’s largest automotive brand behind it, the MG brand may find itself on the nose of cars in more countries than ever.

    Whilst they’re not the open top sports cars that the brand was once synonymous with, they are at least connected directly to designers and engineers based in Longbridge. Think of MG Motor today not as the MG you knew before, but as an entirely new brand. Because if you do, you realise how many positives it can bring back to Britain.

    Magnette

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    Re: Can the MG3 bring MG back to Britain? (China People's Daily)

    Post by Magnette on Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:17 am

    They need to sort that engine. Imagine how even the sniffiest reviews would read if they couldn't moan about the engine.

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