- Incredibly good value
- Lots of boot space
- Quicker than you’d expect
- Some cheap trim elements
- Generic looks
- Some advanced safety features missing
Range (WLTP): 214 miles Top Speed: 115mph 0 to 60: 7.3sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 3.43p
The MG ZS EV was one of the standout electric cars of the last couple of years, setting a new benchmark for value. There were some corners cut, particularly with the jaded interior instrumentation and range, but it delivered incredible value. Now it looks like MG has gone one further with the MG5 EV. It arrives at a similar price as the ZS EV, but with more performance and range. It’s also unique. It’s the first electric estate car to arrive on the UK market.
Price and Options
MG hasn’t just taken the same electric drivetrain as the MG ZS EV and shoehorned it into an existing estate body. The battery is a little bigger at 52.5kWh and the motor more powerful at 154bhp. While SUVs may be the most popular body style in Europe now, the estate car is still an immensely practical format, whether for work or family usage. But this isn’t a brand-new design. The MG5 EV is essentially the Roewe Ei5, which comes from Chinese company SAIC Motor. So it has been around a while, just newly arrived in the UK.
Like the ZS EV, there are two trim levels – Excite and Exclusive. The Excite trim costs an incredible £24,495 with the £3,000 government plug-in grant, which is even less than the base Renault Zoe. But it still includes front and rear electric windows, although only the driver’s window has one-touch opening and closing in the Excite model. It also has a rear reversing camera, sat-nav, and even cruise control. A lot of this will be extras in other cars, so the value here is excellent.
Add another £2,500 and you can have the Exclusive trim, which adds “leather like” seats with electric adjustment for the driver. All the windows get one-touch opening. The front seats are heated, and the wipers add rain-sensing, with an auto mode for the air conditioning. You also get silver roof rails to facilitate tying cargo or connecting a box to the top, which may be something you’d want to do in an estate car. The electrically adjusted mirrors gain the ability fold and are heated with the Exclusive trim. The final Exclusive feature is smart keyless entry, where you press a button on the door handle to unlock, assuming you have the keys in your pocket.
The basic car colour is Arctic White, with a small selection of options. There are three metallic choices, which cost £545, including Piccadilly Blue (our loan car), Black Pearl, and Westminster Silver. The tri-coat Dynamic Red option is a bit more expensive at £695. And that’s it for options. You can buy accessories, but there is no long list of feature packs like the VW ID.3 or most other German cars. MG is much more like Kia and Hyundai in this respect, offering fewer options and a lot as standard, which is great in a car this cheap. We’re already seeing MG5 EVs discounted to as low as £21k for the Excite, and under £23k for the Exclusive, making this the cheapest mainstream EV on the UK market and an absolute bargain.
The MG5 EV is a pretty generic-looking car, however. You wouldn’t expect Maserati looks at this price, though, and the appearance is perfectly acceptable. The 16in alloy wheels are common across both trim levels, and there’s no option for any other wheel types. Slightly larger wheels might have filled the wheel arches in a more muscular way. But at least they’re alloys.
There really is very little sign that this is an EV from the outside. There’s a slight hint of a splitter at the front, and waved ridges at the top and bottom of the side panels provide a bit more flow to the length of the car. The door handles and wing mirrors are colour coded to the paint, with some silver elements to the front trim. But even the venerable MG ZT estate of yore is more eye-catching.
The standard Excite seats are black cloth and mechanically adjusted for both driver and passenger, although they are still six-way adjustable on the driver’s side, and four-way on the passenger’s side. The Exclusive’s “leather style” upholstery is presumably not actually leather. This also adds electric adjustment for the driver (but not the passenger), as well as lumbar adjustment for the driver, with heating for both seats.
They’re reasonably comfortable seats, but there’s a bit less headroom than on the SUV and crossover EVs we’ve reviewed, such as the Kia e-Niro, which will mean this car isn’t quite so appropriate for really tall people. There are a couple of cupholders in the central console and a small cubby under the armrest, plus a document pouch on the passenger’s side. You get a couple of USB ports for charging a phone, but no wireless charging and nowhere to actually rest your phone when charging, so you’d either have to rig up a holder or leave it in the cupholders. The glove compartment is a little on the small side. The overall finish is plasticky, but again we’re not expecting stitched Italian leather in a car you can already pick up for £21k from some dealers.
The rear seats, like the front ones, aren’t overly endowed with headroom, but they have decent space for knees. The middle seat is a little bit more comfortable than some middle seats we’ve sat in, and if you don’t use it for a passenger you can pull the back down to make an armrest with two cupholders. Amazingly for a low-cost car, there are two USB ports for rear passengers, and even an air-conditioning vent, although this is at the bottom and can’t be adjusted. It seems more like a foot warmer.
Storage and Load Carrying
Cargo carrying was an area that had to be good for the MG5 EV to make sense. You buy an estate car to lug stuff around, and fortunately this car excels in this area. The basic boot capacity is 464 litres, with the luggage cover in place, and if you retract this (which works like a blind), this extends to an extremely healthy 578 litres. That’s plenty of space for the bags of four or five occupants. There is a small space under the boot floor, but it’s already taken up by an inflator kit. It would be large enough for a space saver spare tyre if you wanted to add one in place of the kit, but not ideal for extra luggage.
Remove the cover entirely, and you can drop the rear seats forward with the traditional 60/40 split. The boot then extends to a sizeable 1,456 litres, which is larger than the Kia e-Niro, for example, and also more than an Audi A4 Avant, although beaten by the BMW 3-series Touring or Mercedes C-class estate. There is some space in front of the rear seats you could use for extra shopping bags, too. However, the rear seat backs don’t lie completely flat when forward, so this isn’t the perfect boot for some cargo types. But it’s long – you could fit a ladder in, for example. There’s no frunk on this car for additional luggage.
The general controls are very traditional. The steering wheel has the usual suite of buttons, with the left-hand side for volume and other audio controls, while the right is more for menus. The main stalk on the left operates the lights, while the one on the right operates the windscreen wipers, which can detect rain and go on automatically with the Exclusive trim. There’s a third, smaller stalk for the cruise control.
You turn the car on with a Start/Stop button when the key is inside the car, and then a knob can be rotated to select drive, reverse or neutral. You press the top of the knob to select Park. Usefully, although there is a separate electronic parking brake, this disengages automatically when you select drive or reverse, and re-engages in park mode. This is a small but welcome streamlining of the process. Next to the electronic parking brake is a button to enable Auto Hold, if you like having the car stop in Drive at lights without you needing to keep the footbrake depressed.
One of the three buttons above the drive knob lets you choose between Eco, Normal and Sport motor power modes. A “KERS” button alters the level of regenerative braking, although there’s no single-pedal driving with the MG5 EV. The third button is labelled Battery, but we couldn’t find any perceptible function that this operated, and MG didn’t seem able to tell us what this button does either.
The instrumentation behind the steering wheel is very old-fashioned looking, with an actual analog speedo on the left and an analog dial on the right for the power/regen indication. In the middle is a 7in screen with a large battery percentage gauge on the left but the readout of how many miles this equates to is a very small number at the bottom, which is hard to read if you have middle-aged eyesight. The symbols at the bottom of the middle section are also small and hard to see. There’s a large digital speed readout in the middle.
The air conditioning is blessed by physical dials for fan speed and temperature, and buttons for all the other functions, including the auto mode with the Exclusive trim. However, these buttons are not lit so in the dark they are impossible to see. You can see and easily operate the dials, but the switches are invisible, which is a shame when two of them are for clearing the front and rear windows when steamed up.
Perhaps the most obvious area where MG has cut costs with this car, however, is the 8in media control touchscreen. It gets the job done, and there is at least RDS-TMC traffic with the navigation, but the sat-nav interface is incredibly slow to respond, both when calling it up to start with and when entering addresses. The menu controls are reasonably well organised and easy enough to find, and you get DAB, FM and even AM radio to listen to. There’s support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto, too. But there doesn’t appear to be any kind connected app for the MG5 EV, although MG does offer this for some its cars.
Performance and Driving
The acceleration the MG5 EV is capable of belies its low price. It can reach 60mph in just 7.3 seconds, and has a top speed of 115mph, both of which are significantly ahead of the MG ZS EV. So you can unleash a surprising amount of straight-line thrust for such an innocuous-looking car. Despite being a front-wheel-drive vehicle, with only 154bhp there’s not noticeable torque steer, compared to (for example) the Kia Soul EV. The interior also remains surprisingly quiet – soundproofing is an area you would have thought MG might have cut costs on.
The suspension is rather soft, which is great for tackling terrible British road surfaces and interminable speed bumps but doesn’t provide such an involving drive. The handling is workmanlike, and the light steering is more about comfortable transport than fun. That’s what you want from a practical family estate, though. This isn’t an RS4 Avant, it’s a low-cost everyday station wagon. It’s also perfectly happy at motorway speeds, which matches well with the ability to last for over 200 miles on a single charge (although in reality probably more like 150 miles at motorway speeds).
Range and Charging
As much as we loved the value on offer from the MG ZS EV, its main weakness was that it only had a 163-mile WLTP range. The good news with the MG5 EV is that, despite not having that much larger a battery, it has a much healthier 214-mile WLTP range. This means that, where the MG ZS EV was better off for urban transportation, the MG5 EV will be more viable for longer-distance journeys. To help that out, on a 100kW DC charger the battery will take 40 minutes to hit 80% from zero, or 50 minutes on a 50kW charger. If you’re charging at home with a 7kW AC box, the car will require 8.5 hours to reach 100%, or 18 hours with a 2.2kW 13A granny charger. You’re not getting as many miles of range as the latest Renault Zoe, but you’re paying a lot less too. The CCS charging port is hidden underneath a very flimsy plastic door at the front that incorporates the MG logo.
Not only is the MG5 EV cheap to buy, it’s mostly cheap to run and maintain as well. With a 14p per kW power supply it costs 3.43p per mile in electricity. The warranty is almost as generous as a Korean manufacturer, stretching to seven years or 80,000 miles. This includes the battery, but MG doesn’t state a minimum capacity level for this period. The anti-perforation guarantee is the same duration, but paint protection is only 3 years or 60,000 miles. All versions of the MG5 EV are in insurance group 32, which is a little on the high side when you consider the top Kia e-Niro 4+ is only in group 29.
On the plus side, all versions of the MG5 EV come with cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, emergency brake assistance and electronic stability control. There’s also a reversing camera on all cars. These are great standard inclusions for a budget EV. But otherwise this is one area where the MG5 EV falls behind, because even with the Exclusive trim you don’t get any further safety features. There’s no option for front parking sensors nor lane departure warning and keep assist, nor blind spot detection. There’s no NCAP rating for the MG5 EV yet, either, but the ZS EV got five stars so we’d hope the newcomer will follow suit.
|Price:||Excite – £24,495; Exclusive – £26,995|
|Range (WLTP):||214 miles|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||8.5 hours|
|Charge time (50kW, 80%):||50 minutes|
|Charge time (100kW, 80%):||40 minutes|
|Battery:||52.5kWh (48.8kWh usable)|
|On Board Charger:||7kW|
|Cost per mile*:||3.43p|
|Cargo:||464 litres, 1,456 litres with rear seats down|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh