MG has had something of a chequered history in recent years.

Formed in 1924, it was a much-loved brand which produced exciting sports cars at relatively affordable prices.

After various ownerships (BMW, British Aerospace among others) it all went belly-up in 2005 until the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) came to the rescue.

Now, slowly but surely, the MG is enjoying good times again. It now makes the MG3 and the bigger MG6 and MG6 Magnette models, which are becoming respected for their style and quality.

It’s the MG3 that we are testing here and it’s something of an eye-opener. The first thing to note is that it is a good-looking hatch which is important as most of its key rivals are rather eyecatching, too.

This is the first B-segment effort from a brand which has been well and truly rejuvenated. What you get is a well-priced package in four trim levels priced from just under £8,400 to a pound less than £10,000.

Tested here is the £9,999 model, where you can find Bluetooth, exciting alloy wheels, leather trim details with red stitching and handy tech such as parking sensors.

On top of the list prices you can add a wide choice of graphics for the bonnet, roof and sides, plus swapping out the interior air vent surrounds for different colours.

I guess that’s the influence of MINI, Vauxhall Adam, Citroen DS3 and co, where being bespoke is king.

You can choose a combination that suits you, and playing around with the look must be a lot of fun. To the younger iPhone generation it’s second nature.

But even a top-spec MG3 with every option still weighs in at less than £11,500, which is cheaper than the cheapest MINI.

There’s just the one engine choice, a splendid 1.5-litre petrol unit with a healthy 105bhp. Like any normally-aspirated petrol engine it needs lots of revs to perform well, but extracting its performance is good fun. And it’s not too hard on the pocket either.

It’s a good chassis too, and but for a set of slightly budget-feeling dampers the MG3 handles well enough to entertain. The steering is set up more to dial out any unpleasant kick-back from bumps rather than deliver textural feel from the road surface.

The engine responds to pedal inputs quickly, with the revs leaping away from idle at the first sign of accelerator.

I’m surprised to discover how likeable the interior is, too. As a five-door the MG3 has a typical boot for the B-segment, but it has good rear legroom and a neat centre console arrangement that emphasises style without going overboard.

The plastics aren’t fancy but it’s a simple, effective arrangement with cool touches on this high-spec model, like digital displays within the dials for air movement control – not to mention the optional red air vent surrounds.

The combination of style, customisation options, genuine driving talent and value for money is impressive. Factor in insurance ratings no higher than 4E and the MG3 looks very tempting, especially for young buyers.

I must confess I expected the MG3 to be dated. I was surprised just how with it this car seems to be.

Modern MGs are designed, engineered and have final assembly at MG’s historic home in Longbridge, Birmingham.

SAIC Motor is the first Chinese car manufacturer to exceed five million sales a year, and 230,000 units of this figure can be attributed to sales of the MG and Roewe marques worldwide.

l You can get more personal with an MG3 as MG launches its first ever E-Brochure. Hosted at, MG hopes to demonstrate the supermini’s character and style in an online brochure with video content. A section allows you to personalise the car. With more than a million options to choose from, the configurator shows all the roof and bonnet graphics, wheels and mirror caps available.

MG3 Style five-door PRICE: £9,999. The range starts at £8,399 ENGINE: a 1,498cc, four-cylinder unit generating 106ps via five-speed gearbox and frontwheel drive PERFORMANCE: Top speed 108mph and 0 to 60mph in 10.4 seconds COSTS: Town 37.7mpg; country 57.6mpg; combined 48.7mpg EMISSIONS: 136g/km INSURANCE: Group 4 WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles