Six months into the year and I already have a hot contender for car of the year.

MG might not be a fashionable choice but its new supermini has everything it needs to wear the crown. The MG3 is a giant leap over the outgoing model and is teaching the rest of the pack a thing or two when it comes to affordable driving, economy, performance and safety, along with a string of equipment that will embarrass many rivals.

Let’s look at the SE starting price of £18,495. Given everything on offer that is more than competitive, you would be lucky to find another supermini with navigation, parking sensors and rear camera on an entry model.

Another two grand gets the Trophy where the highlights are keyless entry, leather trim, heated front seats and steering wheel, all round camera and LED headlights.

This second generation model is a smidge bigger with sharper front and rear end styling. It does not have the ooh la la looks of a Peugeot 208 but is sleeker than before and all the better for it.

Likewise the interior. No it does not have the wow factor of the 208 but important improvements have been made. The previous model was a bit budget with a sea of black plastic. This time we have some pleasing textures with slightly better quality trim and bang up to date digital screens. You cannot expect a premium finish for this price but it is hardly worth complaining about.

Ahead of the driver is a seven inch screen where you can toggle through a variety of information and a couple of steering wheel buttons for quick entry into the heating and central screen.

There is a bank of quick keys along the centre console including one for heating controls but you still have to dab the screen to make selections. I prefer physical switches but we have to accept that this is the new normal so get used to it.

My main irritation is having to scroll through the driver aids in MG Pilot to switch off the lane departure function which defaults to ‘on’ every time the engine is turned off. A simple button would be very welcome.

At 4113mm the MG is longer than most rivals and interior space is good enough for a family. On that basis you would expect the boot to be class leading but is anything but. We are talking small margins compared to Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 but it is way off the whopping 380 litres available in the Skoda Fabia, although that car’s boot is exceptional.

Still, not enough to turn you away from the showroom.

While still in the cabin there are a couple of cost cutting features we could do without. There is no reach adjustment on the steering wheel, just up and down, but the one that really needs to be addressed is the single piece rear seat back. In a car this size a split rear seat is essential.

No doubt about the biggest leap forward. The new engine has eliminated the one reason for turning your back on the MG3. From below par performance and lousy economy we have gone to sparkling and outstanding.

The petrol hybrid has 100bhp backed up by a 134bhp electric motor boosted by a bigger than average 1.83kWh battery. The car jumps between all electric, hybrid and engine power, not that you would notice any change as the transitions are completely smooth. That bigger battery allows the car to spend a bit more time in electric driving around town speeds while the self charging hybrid system performs most of the open road duties.

Plant the accelerator and the engine joins the fray, it gets a bit harsh at higher revs but again, nothing to complain about.

The step change, and it is a big step, is the economy. My average over a week’s driving was 58.9mpg and there were a number of trips where the MG returned high sixties. Most of the time I was in economy mode, which did little to dent performance, although there is also the option of middle of the road ‘normal’ or all in sport mode.

As with most hybrids suspension has to be tuned to cater for the extra weight of the battery and the MG’s ride is a tad hard, though not uncomfortable while the handling is pretty tidy. Another hybrid trait is overly sharp braking because of the sensitive pedal but this is something a driver should be able to adjust to pretty quickly.

Given the high levels of value for money, performance, economy, you name it, I would buy this car tomorrow.

Fast facts

MG3 Trophy


1.5 litre petrol; 100bhp

Electric motor; 134bhp

0-62mph 8secs; 106mph

64mpg combined

100g/km. 1st tax £175

Boot: 293-983 litres

Insurance group 24