The MG 3 was dreamed up and developed at the SAIC Design Centre at Longbridge. The pen strokes and proficiency of about 60 designers and 300 engineers vault the first critical hurdle with room to spare: the 3 looks good.

Unencumbered by a direct forebear to tediously reference, the company has sought (and found) a clean, snappy look. At 2520mm, the car gets a slightly longer wheelbase than the class norm, but it doesn’t render an oversized presence in the flesh. From the outside, the 3 appears every bit the modern supermini.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The designers have done well to make the MG's daytime running lights stand out for the right reasons

Underneath, it’s more indebted to conventionalism. Like most small cars built to a strict budget, the MG is stock-standard hatchback fare. The all-new front-drive platform is underpinned by MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion bar at the rear, with different, sportier damper and spring settings applied for the UK.

Likewise, the throwback hydraulic rack has been tuned for a little less assistance than would be found on the Chinese-spec model, and the disc front/drum rear brakes benefit from uprated components.

Continuing the rather rudimentary theme is the imaginatively named four-cylinder VTi-Tech petrol engine. The chain-driven 1.5-litre unit, tuned for Euro 5 compliance, is the sole choice and produces a modest 105bhp of naturally aspirated power at 6000rpm and 101lb ft of peak twist at 4750rpm.

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A five-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission yet offered with the motor. Bolting the engine to the car is done at Longbridge as well, but it would be stretching matters to describe the 3 as British built.

At the moment, each example arrives in the hallowed halls direct from China as a knocked-down kit to be reassembled by a smaller workforce. Although it might seem a somewhat convoluted process to an outsider, the current MG Motor system of building 3s allows it the flexibility to build a European-spec model without the need to replicate the really expensive parts of the construction process.

This primary phase of production occurs at SAIC’s facility in Lingang, China, on a line capable of producing both fully built cars and the semi-knocked-down versions of the sort that are shipped to the UK at approximately 65 percent of final assembly.

At Longbridge, the final 35 percent is completed on a duplication of the remaining production line, with the engine, gearbox, front assembly, rear assembly, wheels and all optional parts yet to be added to the painted shell.

Depending on the specification, MG Motor allows two months for shipping, plus another month for completion in the UK.

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