We test the affordable electric estate that’s proving to be a surprise sales success
MG may not be the iconic British sports car maker that it once was, but it’s thriving as a bargain brand under Chinese ownership.
In September 2021 MG Motor UK achieved its highest ever monthly sales in the UK, passing 5,000 registrations for the first time ever with sales up 61.2% year-on-year.
Much of the success was driven by MG’s pure electric models, the ZS and MG5. And even though it was only launched in late 2020, the MG5 was the seventh best-selling pure EV in the UK in September.
As an all-electric estate, the MG5 currently occupies a unique niche in the zero emissions market.
It may not be the most handsome load-lugger on the market, but just like its crossover-styled sibling, the ZS, it’s a spacious, seriously affordable family car.
Priced from £25,095 (after the Government’s £2,500 plug-in grant) it’s available with two battery sizes (52.5kWh and 61.1kWh), giving a claimed range of 214 and 250 miles respectively. Both have a 115kW (154bhp) electric motor.
And while the MG5’s range isn’t nudging the 300-mile range mark, it’s way ahead of many similarly priced cars, some of which are unable to reach 150 miles on a single charge (eg MINI Electric, Honda E and Mazda MX-30).
The MG5 sits much lower than most EVs, with the water-cooled battery pack integrated into the car’s chassis, giving it a surprisingly sleek profile..
Some may find it slightly nondescript from the front, but plenty of buyers have no problem with its styling judging by the amount I’ve seen on the roads in and around London.
It’s perfectly acceptable inside too, if slightly dated, but there’s no debate over the space on offer. The large boot, accessed via a wide tailgate opening, delivers 464 litres of capacity with the rear seats up and load cover in place, expanding to an impressive 578 litres with the load cover retracted. Fold the 60:40 rear seat and the load capacity increases to a mighty 1,456 litres.
Additionally, there’s also plenty of room inside for up to five passengers, with two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the back.
The interior design isn’t flash and there’s no shortage of hard plastic surfaces, but it’s well equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen (inc Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) as standard, plus automatic headlights, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and air-conditioning. Move up a grade and you get leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry, navigation and electrically folding and heated door mirrors.
The flagship ‘long range’ version (starting at just £26,495) gets MG Pilot as standard, featuring a selection of safety and driver assistance goodies, including Active Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent High Beam Assist and Intelligent Speed Limit Assist.
I tested the entry-level 214-mile range MG5 EV. And with a 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds, it’s no slouch, so you’ll surprise many a hot hatch driver on the road.
It can be fully charged overnight at home or to 80% at a 50kW fast charger in 50 minutes, or in 40 minutes via a 100kW rapid charger.
Needless to say, there’s no engine noise, and the MG5 does a good job of keeping the outside world outside with little tyre, traffic and wind noise penetrating the cabin.
However, it’s no match for a conventionally-powered estate like a Ford Focus in the handling department. Thanks to its soft suspension, it will lean in fast corners and even become a little unsettled if pushed hard on challenging country roads.
But then, it isn’t meant to compete with the Tourings and Avants of this world – the MG5 is all about value for money.
It’s also easy to drive and comfortable – just select ‘D’ on the dinky dial in the centre console and away you go. The steering is light too, making town driving a doddle, while long journeys are effortless and relaxing.
There’s a choice of Eco, Normal and Sport, but I found that Eco was just fine. There are also three levels of regenerative braking to choose from, so adding the odd mile when coasting, braking or on downhill stretches is very possible.
I didn’t quite manage the claimed range, but I’d say 180-190 is realistic, which is more than enough for most drivers.
As with all MG models, there’s peace of mind too because it comes with a generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.
Verdict: The MG5 EV may not be the sexiest estate car on the market today, but it does offer honest, practical, electric motoring at an affordable price.