The MG5 EV all-electric estate gets a sharper vibe. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
MG continues to specialise in providing budget brand buyers access to full electrification at super-affordable prices. In 2020, the company announced its second zero emissions model, the MG5 EV estate, added Long Range capability to it shortly afterwards, then in mid-2022 updated the styling inside and out to create the car we're going to look at here. This, the UK's first and cheapest EV estate, offers a 249 mile combined driving range and sells at a reasonably conventional price.
In recent years, MG has been making a name for itself, profitably riding the EV revolution by offering those ready to switch a range of more affordable options that make increasing sense as rising living costs take their toll. This lightly Anglified Chinese brand would have done even better had not its earlier products been not only cheap but deathly dull. But all that is changing. The new MG4 EV small hatch is one sign of that. Another comes with the makeover we're looking at here for the MG5 EV estate.
The MG5 has done quite well for the brand - it was the U.K.'s fifth best selling EV in 2021 - but was rarely chosen in its bland original form by anyone below retirement age. So more than a mid-term wash and brush-up was required for this facelifted version. And that's exactly what we've got. A sharkey front-end highlights a complete change of bodywork, plus there's more equipment and improved towing capability. Sounds promising.
There aren't any engineering changes with this revised MG5 EV. For the time being, the brand is only offering the Long Range version, which has a 61.1kWh battery which powers a 154bhp electric motor on the front axle. Range is rated at 249 miles. At some point, the marque may also offer a more affordable version with a smaller 50kWh battery which manages 199 miles of range. Either way, performance is much the same, with 62mph from rest occupying 8.3s and 280Nm of torque allowing for swift, easy overtakes on the way to a rather un-EV-like top speed of 115mph.
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
Here's an EV estate that you don't need to be drawing a pension to want to consider. It just shows what a difference a visual update can make. In this case, that's been achieved by a front bumper that chunkier and sportier, while at the rear, smarter slimmer LED tail lights gain a more distinctive night time signature. As before, the MG5 is properly family-sized, 4.6-metres long (0.6m longer than before), which makes it about the same size as a Ford Focus Estate, though this MG's 2,659mm wheelbase is a fraction shorter than that Ford's.
The interior of the original version needed more than a light overhaul too - and it's got it. A 7-inch digital instrument cluster features, alongside a 10.25-inch centre touchscreen that runs MG's latest 'iSmart Lite' infotainment system. And cabin material quality has also taken a useful step forward, the fit and finish now close to volume brand standards, though still without feeling especially plush. The top 'Trophy'-spec variant that most will want enhances things with niceties like leather upholstery and powered, heated front seats.
On the rear seat, there's ample headroom and legroom, even for taller occupants. There's comfortable space for a couple of adults, with room for three without too much of a squash. You'll want to know about boot space, which is the same as with the previous version of this model, 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 1,367-litres.
Market and Model
There are two trim levels, base 'SE' and plusher 'Trophy', both with the Long Range 61.1kWh battery. Respective asking prices start at around £30,500 for the 'SE' variant and rise to around £33,500 for the 'Trophy'. 'SE' trim gets you the main things you'll need - the cabin's 10.25-inch Colour centre Touchscreen with navigation and 'Apple CarPlay' / 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring, a 7-inch Colour Driving Information Display in the instrument binnacle and use of the MG iSmart app. Top 'Trophy'-spec adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, rear privacy glass, heated front seats with electric adjustment, rain-sensing wipers and a 360-degree Parking Camera. Both variants now feature vehicle to load charging capability allowing you to charge or power other electrical items using the car's battery pack.
Safety features fitted across the range include a range of 'MG Pilot' camera safety features. These include Active Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, Lane Keep Assist with a Lane Departure Warning System, Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Intelligent High Beam Assist and adaptive Cruise Control. Passive safety systems include 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 249 mile WLTP-rated driving range in Long Range form (24 miles less than a ZS EV Long Range). Charging an 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 (up to 87kW in Long Range form), the car can charge from 0-80% in 40 minutes from a 50kW charging station (if you can find one).
At home, the car can recharge itself using a standard 7KW wallbox in around eight and a half hours. That's two and a half hours longer than is needed by a ZS EV but overnight charging should still be easy. In emergencies, the car can also be charged via a standard 3-pin plug. The Long Range model's 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 2% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Insurance is group 32D.
Here, maybe just maybe, is the market's most sensible family car. You'd still 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 in this much improved form, 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?