Try as he might, Iain P W Robertson has lost whatever empathy he felt for the rebirth of the MG brand, which remains one of the most enthusiastically supported of almost any car brand in the world.

mg3-1It was one of the regal ‘Georges’, who suggested that Bognor Regis ought to be buggered (if you can pardon the loosing of such an expression, while Operation Yewtree is still progressing). Yet, it was at the British south coast resort (at Butlins, no less) that the Chinese variation on the once-famous MG brand launched its all-new ‘3’ to Her Majesty’s Motoring Media.

No amount of celebrity chefery, or outstanding South Downs driving routes, basking in Indian summer glory, could hope to raise an aspirational tone for what might be one of the least worthy recipients of a ‘3’ badge ever. BMW has earned its ‘3’ spurs, a factor highlighted by its consistent top-ten showing in the British new vehicle registration charts (outselling Ford‘s otherwise superb Mondeo, yet again), while even the Citroen DS3 is a deserving recipient of the nomenclature, as is the truly excellent mid-size Mazda3.

According to the bods at the UK end of the present day MG, which appear to be the same 300 personnel that occupy sales and admin, as well as the design centre and the production facility in Birmingham (the company surely moves these human resources around to wherever the expectant snapper’s camera happens to be), the MG3 offers ‘an exciting, contemporary style’. mg3-2This is true, as long as you are prepared to accept that the original drawings were laid down, in China, some four to five years ago, thereby almost matching the gestation period of the blue whale.

However, with a snout that has been robbed from Renault, a tail-end filched from Fiat and flanks that are as Bohemian as a Skoda Fabia’s, there is scarcely an original element to the ‘cheeky’ and catchpenny styling of the 3. There was a period, when we, in the west, believed that the Japanese were the consummate copycats. That soubriquet now belongs almost exclusively to the exponents of Sino-manufacturing.

Yet, these chaps can reproduce stuff at truly low cost rates, thereby increasing the potential of making some profit, at least within one or two of the intended markets. Packed to the gunwales with goodies, the least expensive example of a 3 on MG’s list weighs in at a stupendously cost-efficient £8,400, with even the most ‘luxurious’ version just scraping the five-figure no-no of £9,999. mg3-3A compelling argument in favour of purchase?

Apparently not the case. Young buyers in the UK, a sector that MG believed existed for its new model, are reluctant to drive a ‘blue-rinse special’ and the ‘blue-rinsers’ are already well enough served by brands they both know and trust. Does MG have a chance of survival in our market? Nope. Not a cat’s chance in hell. If you desire a bargain, buy a small VW, or invest in a Romanian Dacia.

Conclusion: It was the James Bond organisation that gave us ‘Live and Let Die’, yet some carmakers just do not know when to stop flogging the deceased donkey. The time has come to remove the defibrillator and switch off the life support. Long live MG (as a classic car brand)!

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).