► Decent space, kit, driving range, value
► It's no thriller – and not trying to be
► Pragmatic, but not devoid of charm
You’re looking at the nichest of niche answers to a future pub question here; the MG5 EV is the first fully electric estate to be offered for sale in the UK.
Even now, approaching a year after its introduction, only Porsche has joined the battery-powered wagon fray with its significantly pricier Taycan Cross Turismo. Either this is an automotive dead end, or MG’s been very shrewd and is servicing the needs of space-thirsty, green-thinking early adopters.
Hang on, that’s an MG?
Well, it is. And it isn’t.
If you’ve not been following the script, MG is no longer a brand associated with twee roadsters and slightly fusty sports saloons – now it’s the value-focused, European market-friendly division of Chinese powerhouse SAIC, the group that bought the remnants of what was left of the old Rover Group.
While the rest of MG’s range shares a definite corporate look, the 5 EV looks different. Dowdy, dull and dated are all fitting descriptions for what’s sold in China as the Roewe Ei5, which can trace its roots back to 2017.
As the Roewe has recently been facelifted for the domestic market, there’s a good chance that 2022 model year MG5s will look sharper, especially at the front, and be rid of that gopping expanse of glossy black plastic that forms the grille.
Nevertheless, the visual mods will only make it look more contemporary rather than cutting edge.
I can’t say I’m wowed so far
Forget notions of what MG was, or what you think it should be. Instead, put yourself in the place of someone looking for a spacious, practical family car that’s inexpensive to buy and run.
It’s hardly an intoxicating highball, but it is slap-bang in the middle of what a large number of buyers are after. Except that it’s not an SUV, but MG caters for that crowd with the closely related ZS EV.
So, it’s worthy, generously kitted-out and, in an endearing kind of way, rather fun to go about your business in.
Okay, hit me with the electrical deets
Housed up front and driving the front axle is an electric motor, smoothly delivering 154bhp and 192lb ft of instantaneous torque. Acceleration 0-62mph is charmingly expressed as ‘just over eight seconds’, but it feels usefully swift, if not Tesla-esque in terms of neck-snapping thrust.
Sadly, there’s no clever packaging solution here, meaning the bag of charging cables lives in the boot, rather than in a dedicated slot beneath or under the bonnet.
Effectively, the MG5’s a compromised combustion-platform car rather than a dedicated battery-electric vehicle, so the 52.5kWh batteries are nestled under the rear portion of the car. Consequently, interior and boot space are passable, not palatial.
Stick entirely to urban driving and MG claims the 5 EV can silently travel 276 miles between recharges, but the more realistic combined figure is 214 miles. We tested one extensively while there was a noticeable nip in the air but still attained 190-200 miles of useable range in mixed driving.
A full recharge using a 7kW domestic wallbox will take 8.5 hours, while a faster public charger can take the MG from flat to 80% in 50 minutes, at a maximum rating of 50kW.
Nothing ground breaking, but handy numbers all the same.
Does it have a showy interior to offset the outside?
No, in a word. Presumably the grille’s glossy black plastic was bought in bulk as there’s plenty of that plastered about the rather austere-looking cabin, but as uninspiring as it looks, everything worked well and felt robust, if not exactly special.
Many functions are operated via the central multimedia touchscreen, which was largely lag-free, but lacked a bit in resolution and colour depth compared with what you’d see in a VW ID.3, for instance, but there’s a suite of easy-to-use physical buttons and knobs for the climate control, unlike what you’d see in an ID.3.
A particular shout-out goes to the steering column-mounted wand for the cruise control functions, which is intuitive to operate much in the way Mercedes’ similar system of yore was – buttons on the wheel are a retrograde step in this regard.
You said it was fun, though..?
It is, up to a point. There’s definitely been consideration put into the control weights, suspension arrangement and steering to ensure a genuinely appealing balance between fine handling and impressive comfort.
It’s not so agile as to put off buyers who simply want to trundle from one place to another, but for those of a more enthusiastic bent there’s an appreciable level of engagement to be enjoyed.
Combined with the swift acceleration when you want to press on, and the refined hush when you simply want to soak up miles, as compromises go, this is a good one.
MG5 EV: verdict
What the MG5 EV lacks in passion, it more than makes up for in pragmatism.
Okay, it’s not the roomiest of wagons – a 464-litre boot isn’t class-leading – nor does it feel desirable, because it makes a virtue of being value-focused. But it does most things you’d ask of it well, while also being cost-effective.
Plumping for the range-topping Exclusive over the entry-level Excite nets you extra niceties on the equipment roster, plus plastileather upholstery, but each has the assurance of a seven-year warranty.
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