As a little bit of background, the R3 range consisted of the MG ZR, Rover 25 and Streetwise at the time of MG-R’s crash in 2005, you can learn more about the cars interesting history since 1995 from this wonderful site
. It seems that NAC envisaged constructing the entire range on the modern 75/ZT production line, which they began shipping over as fast as they could manage, into a factory that was not yet constructed. Meanwhile R3s started appearing with NAC’s trademark duct tape disguises, along with 75s and TFs. However unlike the later two cars the R3s weren’t instantly accredited to NAC, at the time there was much speculation on the Rover 25 being revived by SIAC-Roewe, however this was later proved not to be the case.
In March 2007 the hurriedly constructed factory got its grand opening with the MG7
present, but no new MG ZR in sight. It wasn’t until the following month that news of the MG3 got out from people who had seen them inside the new factory. Specifically the car that was seen was the Rover Streetwise, rather than the MG ZR you may have thought was more likely to be launched by NAC-MG. In November 2007 it was made official, the car appeared much the same as the original streetwise. Aside from the obvious addition of MG badges the car also received the headlights from the facelift ZR (Which the original streetwise never had) along with the optional tail lights from the facelift ZR. Much like the MG7 this car was a strange mix of pre-existing parts, while the interior was mildly refreshed, getting new HEVAC and a few other slight alterations.
After this, much like with the TF, things went quiet for a while. NAC had pretty much spent all their money and in asking the Chinese government for help found themselves in forced talks with SIAC. The outcome was that in early 2008 SIAC were at the helm of NAC, while this was going on the pricing for the MG3SW was announced, starting from less that £6,000 and featuring a 1.4 manual or 1.4/1.8 CVT Auto. A release date was set for March and by this point the car had reverted back to the four headlight styling of the original streetwise. It was not until June that the car finally started rolling off the production line.
The MG3 seemed like it found a niche in the Chinese market, while the market generally prefers large saloons, perhaps the tough look of the MG3 SW compensated for that, initial sales were higher than first expected, not bad for a car that was 13 years old at its launch, before the MG6 it was accounting for over 75% of MG’s sales. The car also some racing success in Chinese rallying, as well as entering Chinese touring cars, it can only have done well to cement MG’s image as a sporting brand. It wasn’t to be a long production run however, SIAC had other plans in the form of their new MG3
, as of 2011 the Rover R3 based MG3SW has been discontinued for the launch of the newer MG3. At least its legacy lives on; there will be a ‘crossover’ version of the newer MG3 as well.