The changing of the guards
by Andy Bryenton
There was a time when the classic British sports car was the epitome of style and grace.
When names like Jensen, Allard, Austin-Healey and Sunbeam were right up there with Aston Martin when it came to conjuring images of wire spoked wheels, dark green paint and wood-panelled interiors. These were small, spirited cars, often with an open top, and they retain their popularity in owners clubs all over the world.
A big name in that world was (and is) MG. Founded in 1924 as Morris Garages by Cecil Kimber, the marque produced some long-lasting favourites such as the Midget, the MGA and MGB, and even the latter-day MGF, which shared its tiny size and rear mounted four-cylinder engine with another Brit sports classic, the Lotus Elise.
Now, after a hiatus from Longbridge since 2011, the MG brand is back, and it’s on the front of a new kind of machine. A supermini for the modern city.
That means that it’s all about style, and the MG 3 makes a spirited attempt at doing what the new Beetle, Mini and Fiat 500 have achieved, while not looking anything at all like MGs of the past. It’s certainly a good looking little beast, with the heritage appeal of that badge supported by a well-appointed interior with all the tech-savvy bells and whistles, crisp lines and two one alloy mags. It’s definitely sportier looking than many of its tiny competitors, and there’s a surprising amount of space inside. With this kind of funky presentation, it’s up against cars like Suzuki’s Ignis or Kia’s Picanto.
The 1.5-litre engine under the hood will not set the world on fire with sheer power, but it is likely to be ferociously economical and reliable, seeing as MG is now actually a part of auto giant SAIC, out of China.
The same SAIC who has been impressing us with another ex-English standard, the LDV brand. Their utes and vans have built a reputation for ‘bulletproof’ hard work, and that bodes well for the little MG. It’s cool, quirky and has a heritage. It’s also amazingly inexpensive to buy.
Nevertheless, you can’t help but wish that the new MG would go right back to their roots and build a tiny little drop-top roadster as well. Go on. Do it.