MG's second full-electric model is this MG5 EV compact estate. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Even with the aid of the government's Plug-in grant, a budget at or around £30,000 doesn't get you much these days if you want your next car to be a full-EV - certainly not much that's family-sized. Unless you opt for one of these, the MG5 EV, a rather different kind of estate and one that's a lot easier to justify now that MG has re-launched it in the 'Long Range' 61.1kWh battery form we're going to look at here.
You might not have yet registered the existence of the MG5, basically a European-ised version of a model from MG's Chinese parent group SAIC, the Roewe Ei5. The brand first launched it in 2020 with a 52.2kWh battery that offered a modest 214 mile driving range. Customer interest was also, well, modest. But this car's now worth a second look, not only because of its longer 250 mile potential between charges but also because it gains MG's 'Pilot Driver Assist' system that offers extra camera safety tech.
It's a sign of the times that you can't have any sort of combustion engine in an MG5, not even a plug-in hybrid one. And it's a reflection of the needs of the European market that the single EV model we do get is quite a lot more powerful than the version offered to the Chinese. The output of this 'Long Range' 61kWh model (unchanged over the original 52kWh version) is set at 156PS. That's 42PS more than the Far Eastern 'Roewe Ei5' version of this design, reflecting the fact that family folk here have been conditioned to expect their EVs to be quite quick; so this one gets to 60mph in just 7.3 seconds, on the way to a rather un-EV-like top speed of 115mph.
Those family folk will be expecting a reasonably long driving range too. They didn't really get it with the 214 mile figure offered by the original model, but this 'Long Range' version's 250 mile combined figure is a bit more like it. To get close to that, you'll need to have selected the most frugal of the three available drive modes - 'Eco'; and made proactive use of the three 'KERS' regenerative braking settings, the most powerful of which slows the car noticeably off-throttle.
You won't be expecting much from the drive dynamics - and you shouldn't - but the steering is reasonably well weighted and the ride soaks up sharper bumps and speed humps quite well. You'll need to be careful with your right foot - it's easy for the power on offer through the single-speed auto gearbox to quickly overwhelm the front tyres modest reserves of traction.
Pushing on a bit offers the opportunity to switch out of the default 'Normal' drive setting into 'Sport' and, as with most EVs, body roll is controlled by the low placement of the battery in the chassis floor. Longer trips in particular are aided by the inclusion of 'MG Pilot', a package of active safety features including adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking.
Design and Build
MG already sells the market's most affordable family-sized EV Crossover, the ZS EV. But while that model won't be quite big enough for some families, this contender, the market's most affordable EV estate, just might be. The exterior styling, unchanged with this 'Long Range' model, is restrained and conservative and not particularly suggestive of a budget brand. It's 4.54m long, which, to give you some perspective, is about 100mm shorter than a Ford Focus Estate, though this MG's 2.6m wheelbase is only 43mm shorter than that Ford's. This MG5 is 1.82m wide and 1.54m tall too. The exterior styling is restrained and conservative, though not particular suggestive of a budget brand.
You'll want to know about boot space, which is rated at 578-litres with the rear seats in place. That's about 200-litres more room than you'd get from an EV hatch like the Volkswagen ID.3. Fold the rear bench flat in this MG5 and you can extend your storage space to 1456-litres.
Up-front, the fit and finish is close to volume brand standards, without feeling especially plush. There's an 8-inch central infotainment screen and a further 7-inch screen flanked by analogue gauges in the instrument binnacle. The top 'Exclusive'-spec variant that most will want enhances things with niceties like leatherette upholstery and auto air conditioning. On the rear seat, there's ample headroom and legroom, even for taller occupants.
Market and Model
There are two trim levels, base 'Excite' and 'Exclusive', with respective asking prices starting at around £25,000 for the 'Excite' variant - that's after the government's £1,500 Plug-in Car Grant has been deducted. The alternative 'Long Range' version is priced from around £26,500 in 'Excite' form - allow another £2,500 for top 'Exclusive' trim. 'Excite' trim gets you 16-inch 'Meteor' alloy wheels, remote entry with push-button start, air conditioning, four electric windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, smartphone compatibility, an eight-inch colour touchscreen and seven-inch driver information display, cruise control, a leather steering wheel, a rotary gear selector, speed-sensing locking, three driving modes, rear parking sensors and follow-me-home headlights, as well as a 7-year warranty.
The top 'Exclusive' version adds leather-style upholstery with heated front seats featuring six-way electric adjustment for the driver. Plus at this level there's one-shot electric rear windows, silver roof rails, electrically adjustable folding heated mirrors, smart keyless entry with push-button start, an automatically dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and satellite navigation.
Safety features fitted across the range include mostly passive systems - there's not much in terms of camera-driven tech. You do though get front, side and curtain airbags, electronic brake assist, ABS with EBD, twin ISOFIX points in the rear, a tyre pressure monitoring system, Hill Start Assist and seatbelt warnings for front and rear passengers.
Cost of Ownership
Earlier we mentioned this car's 250 mile WLTP-rated driving range (23 miles less than a ZS EV) - which rises to 334 miles on the WLTP city cycle. The Long Range version has the advantage that it can charge at up to 100kW. Charging any MG5 EV is straightforward thanks to its combined CCS and Type 2 port, mounted within the front grille for easy access from either side of the car. The CCS plug is an enhanced version of the Type 2 plug, with two additional power contacts for the purposes of quick charging and supports AC and DC charging power. Featuring rapid charging capability, the car can charge from 10-80% in 40 minutes from a 100kW charging station (if you can find one).
At home, the car can recharge itself using a standard 7KW wallbox in around nine and a half hours. That's an hour shorter than is needed by a ZS EV and overnight charging should be easy. In emergencies, the car can also be charged via a standard 3-pin plug. The 61.1kWh battery pack is managed by MG's Intelligent Battery Temperature Control system and insulated from external temperature variations so that it can deliver the optimum power and range whatever the weather. As with all MG models, you also get one of the longest fully transferable warranties in its class, a 7 year/80,000-mile package being standard across all variants. Rivals such as SsangYong, Hyundai and Toyota only provide 5 years. Users will benefit from 1% Benefit-in-Kind tax during the 2022-23 tax year. Insurance is group 27A.
Here, maybe just maybe, is the market's most sensible family car. You'd have to be free from the affliction of badge snobbery to consider it and have no particular interest in the joy of driving. But if that doesn't bother you, then an MG5 EV might have plenty to recommend it as an ownership proposition if your next family car simply must be an EV.
For the price of a planet polluting mid-range Focus or Astra estate, you could have one of these, a car just as practical but offering zero tailpipe emissions and a model that you could run without ever having to visit a filling station again. Makes you think doesn't it?