What is it?
Despite 2020 being a wash out year for the automotive sector (new car sales being down 29 per cent year-on-year), a firm that managed to somehow benefit was MG – being the only one to grow its sales, outside of Tesla, and by a remarkable 41 per cent.
There are a few reasons behind why Chinese-owned and built MGs are finding favour with buyers – value for money being high on that list, along with a hefty seven-year warranty, a growing dealer network and also the fact it has the right cars for the right time. We’ve seen this with its low-priced ZS EV, and now there’s a second battery-powered option for buyers to choose – the MG5. But is it a new electric car you should pay attention to?
The new MG5 is quite an interesting one, as it’s the UK’s first electric estate car – this being a body type many manufacturers have shunned up until now – and bringing a big boot, roomy interior and still an attractive price.
And though it’s a new model for MG in the UK, it’s actually a European version of the Roewe Ei5, a model that’s been sold in China by SAIC Motor (who owns MG) since 2017. That said, British versions get more power and a longer range. This rebadging helps to explain why the MG5 doesn’t really look like any other models in the line-up, though.
What’s under the bonnet?
Though MG had a ready-to-use powertrain from its ZS EV, the MG5 actually uses a tweaked setup that gets more power and range than the other car.
Pairing together an electric motor and 52.5kWh battery, it produces 154bhp and 260Nm of torque, but allows for a surprisingly zippy 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. It’s the range that will impress here, with MG claiming it can do 214 miles from a single charge – one of the longest ranges from any sub-£30,000 electric car. In real-world settings, expect around 190 miles, but that’s still impressive and should be plenty for most journeys.
Thanks to 50kW rapid charging, the battery can also be topped up in 50 minutes, while plugged in at home using a 7kW wallbox, expect it to take 8.5 hours.
What’s it like to drive?
Though the MG5 won’t be a driving enthusiast’s choice, it’s actually quite pleasant behind the wheel. As with other EVs, due to the instant torque available, there’s a real immediacy to the way it behaves – meaning you can jump away from the lights in a flash and overtake with ease.
The regenerative braking system – which MG calls KERS (kinetic energy recovery system), just like in F1 – can be varied and in its harshest setting allows for hassle-free one-pedal driving. Though the steering is light and numb, it’s well-suited to town driving, while small 16-inch alloy wheels with thick tyre walls allow for a compliant and comfortable ride on most surfaces.
The MG5 is also pretty happy to sit at motorway speeds, with decent refinement when you consider its affordable price. There’s also the sense that it has more to give at 70mph – some EVs feeling like they’re running out of steam (sorry, charge) at these sorts of speeds.
How does it look?
The rest of the MG range has become quite handsome in recent years, but bizarrely the MG5 doesn’t really share many styling cues with the rest of the line-up – making it look somewhat anonymous and lacking in identity. Take off those MG badges and the average person wouldn’t have a clue who made it.
That said, it’s not especially a bad-looking car, with a neat closed-off front grille that houses the charging port, along with LED daytime running lights, but with its small alloys and oddly high ride height, it’s not a car that you’ll ever rate for design.
What’s it like inside?
The inside of the new MG5 is really the area that helps to explain this model’s more affordable price as it lacks the quality and finesse of pricier rivals. There are certain touches that appeal, such as the rotary drive selector, which feels quite upmarket, while the digital dials are clear. The touchscreen is disappointing, though, being dim-witted to use and also quite small as well, though it can mirror your smartphone and features satellite navigation as well.
An area where it impresses, though, is interior space. Though this MG is one of the more compact estate cars you can buy today, its 464-litre boot (or 1,420 litres with the rear seats folded) is still larger than any other EV available for the money. Rear space is also plentiful for adults.
What’s the spec like?
With prices starting from £25,095 (after the government grant), the MG5 is one of the more affordable new EVs you can buy today – undercutting smaller electric models like the Renault Zoe and Vauxhall Corsa-e for price.
It gets a decent amount of equipment in the entry-level Excite trim, too, including alloy wheels, keyless entry, digital dials, an eight-inch touchscreen and rear parking sensors. The top-spec Exclusive versions, priced from £27,595, bring roof rails, heated front seats, leather-style upholstery and keyless entry.
Though prices are very attractive, it’s worth noting that the MG5 misses out on many driver assistance aids that are fitted to just about every other new car on sale, such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
So far, electric cars have broadly fitted into two categories; they’ve either been big expensive SUVs or small city-aimed models with a weak electric range. The MG5 feels like an EV that is the bridge between those two groups, proving that these models can still be practical, have a decent range and remain affordable.
Though the MG5’s dull styling and uninspiring interior are never going to win over plenty of buyers, if you’re less fussed about the badge and want a good no-nonsense EV, this new electric estate car is a refreshingly solid option.