With 214 miles of range and 578 litres of boot space, the MG5 EV estate represents genuine value for money on paper, but is it any good?
MG has boldly declared that 2021 will be the tipping point for them, with over 50 per cent of cars sold either EV or PHEV. At the moment the brand has three cars which fall into this bracket, the MG HS plug-in hybrid, MG ZS EV and the all new MG5 EV, which is the subject of our review. There are currently very limited options if you’re looking for an electric estate car, in that you’ll have to settle for a plug-in hybrid (the most relevant being the Kia Ceed Sportswagon, SEAT Leon Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate) with a typical range of 20 to 40 miles – after that a petrol or diesel engine will take over. In that sense, MG has the market all to itself with its 5, so just how good is its budget conscious all-electric family estate? We find out!
The powertrain is slightly different to that in the ZS EV, in that the front wheels are driven by a 154bhp electric motor that allows for 0-30mph in 3.2 seconds (taking a further 3.5 seconds to reach 62mph), before going on to a top speed of 115mph – which isn’t too shabby for a big heavy (not to mention innocuous looking) car. With 192lb ft of instant torque, in terms of straight-line speed, it definitely qualifies as a sleeper car.
With the battery mounted beneath the floor of the car to help give it a lower centre of gravity and a slightly higher than normal seating position compared to a conventionally powered estate, MG say that it helps it to feel more assured on the road. In our opinion the chassis lets it down with massive suspension travel which means it has a tendency to pitch and roll in the corners, and the steering is too light and vague.
There are three driving modes (Normal, Eco and Sport) and, like the ZS EV, the 5 offers three different levels of regeneration for when you take your foot off the not-so-loud pedal, controlled by a button labelled KERS on the centre console. Sadly the system isn’t quite a one-pedal operation, the transfer between the regen and hydraulic brakes isn’t very seamless, and the brake pedal itself is quite woolly.
That all said, for an affordable EV the electric powertrain in this car makes for a relaxed driving experience and one that’s better controlled than the ZS EV. It’s easy to drive around town and has plenty of performance on tap on the motorway. Let’s face it, this isn’t a car that’s designed to be pushed hard, it’s a load-lugging wagon and the lack of communication and body lean will be fine for most drivers.
The battery pack has a total capacity of 52.5kWh giving it a claimed range of 214 miles on a full charge, stretching to 276 miles when just used in cities. One of our main criticisms of the MG ZS EV was that the range was totally unrealistic – thankfully the MG5 is a lot better. Our test car showed 191 miles of range after a full charge, and we were managing between 160 and almost 180 depending on whether it was driven on motorways or around town. That’s probably down to the fact almost 49kWh of that energy storage is ‘usable’, which is nearly 20 per cent more than the ZS EV offers.
As well as a usable driving range, the reasonably large battery pack also endows it with good charging ability too. In fact, it can be charged from 0-80% charge in 50 minutes at a 50kW charger while a full charge at home using Type 2 fast charging can be attained in around eight and a half hours.
In terms of cost – this is one of the most affordable EVs on the market with prices starting at just under £25,000. With £3894.25 down as a deposit, the Excite trim costs just £249pcm on a 48 month PCP deal, which is an extremely affordable way into electric motoring. For company car drivers, the incentives are even better with zero per cent BIK tax in the 2020/21 tax year, rising to 1 per cent in 2021/22 and 2 per cent in 2022/23. Fleet managers also have the added peace of mind with a 7 year manufacturer’s warranty that’s transferable to the next owner which should help with residual values at the time of resale.
MG is owned by SAIC, so the 5 is a restyled version of the Roewe Ei5 estate that's currently sold in China, but it was originally designed from the outset to appeal to buyers in global markets. To that end, MG says it has given it a ‘classical silhouette’, but as its a few years old now the styling is not exactly cutting edge. Drab it may be, but it’s also inoffensive and not suggestive of a budget brand (or an EV for that matter), with the front end reminding us of a Volkswagen Passat. A total of five colours are available including Piccadilly Blue, Westminster Silver, Dynamic Red, Black Pearl or Arctic White.
Inside, the centrepiece is an eight inch colour touchscreen with smartphone mirroring capability, compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The infotainment is one of the worst we’ve sampled – the UI is laughably slow and on top of that it isn’t very intuitive. On the plus side, despite the overuse of plastic materials, it still feels fairly premium in terms of overall fit and finish. At this price point you can’t expect plastic bottles recycled into a suede-like fabric and sustainably harvested rattan for the floors and dash. Mysteriously, there’s a button labelled Battery, but it didn't seem to do anything.
Front and rear seat passengers alike are very well catered for with plenty of head and leg room and its pretty comfortable on long journeys. There’s also decent storage, with sizeable door pockets, a pair of cup holders in the centre console ahead of the armrest cubby, and two more in the back. This car’s USP, of course, is its large, versatile boot. With the rear seats up there is 578 litres of boot space, but drop them down and the load capacity increases to an extremely tip friendly 1456 litres. Our only complaint is the sill is higher than the boot floor which makes getting heavy cargo in and out unpractical.
To make things simple there are just two versions, with prices starting at just £24,495 for the Excite. It comes with 16 inch ‘Meteor’ alloys, remote entry with push-button start, air conditioning, electric windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, USB ports in the front and rear, eight inch colour touchscreen and seven inch driver information display, cruise control, leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors and follow me-home headlights. The Exclusive version is an extra £2500 and adds leatherette upholstery with heated front seats (and six-way electric adjustment for the driver), silver roof rails, electrically adjustable folding heated mirrors, smart keyless entry, automatically dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and iGo In-Car navigation, which is slow to react and won’t allow you to type in a specific place first, such as in our case St Thomas’ Hospital – you have to put in the location first. We’d recommend saving the money and going for the Excite trim which still has a decent amount of kit. Sadly there is a distinct lack of safety systems with no front parking sensors, lane departure warning and keep assist, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control or emergency braking assist.
MG is taking a bold step into a brand new area of the market and one which we hope will spearhead a movement for other car makers to follow suit. It may not have the driving dynamics of estate offerings from other brands, but it is highly practical and seriously good value. For budget brand buyers that don’t care about driving and want a cheap-to-run electric estate, the 5 is perfect and to that end we think MG will win over many fans. Over 63,000 examples of this car have been sold to Chinese drivers since it was launched in March 2018, and we reckon MG has a good chance of it establishing a nice little niche for itself in our market, too. That is until other battery electric estate cars come on sale. What was Elon Musk saying about offering an electric car for the price of £25,000 a few years from now…
Price (RRP OTR): From £24,495 (including plug-in grant), £27,540 (model as tested)
Top speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Driving range (combined): 214 miles
Charging time: 8.5 hours (7kW, 0-100%); 50 minutes (50kW 0-80%)
Insurance group: 32
Vehicle and battery warranty: 7 years/80,000 miles