MG’s 5 is a half-way house – but it’s a pleasant one

Compact electric estate has an excellent mix of practicality and price

While it might lack for modernity, the MG 5 does have that big-ish 57kWh (useable) battery up its sleeve.

Make: MG

Model: 5

Year: 2022

Fuel: Electric

Date Reviewed: April 13, 2022

Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 07:00

   

Take a look, for a moment, at the price list for the MG 5 EV on MG’s Irish website. Peruse it carefully enough and you’ll notice that MG defines the 5’s bodystyle as a “crossover SUV”. Now, this is either (a) a typographical error, or – more likely – (b) an attempt by MG to convince customers that this car, utterly undeniably a compact estate, is actually a far more fashionable type of vehicle.

Now, this depresses me somewhat. Not MG’s obvious obfuscation – such things are more or less excusable, in a marketing sense. No, what upsets me is that someone in MG figured that there’s no way in heck nor hell that any self-respecting Irish car buyer is going to lay down cash on a car that’s blatantly an estate. Unless, that is, they can be convinced that it’s actually some sort of 4x4.

Such are the wiles and whims of fashion, and the pressure to keep up with next door’s Qashqai, and two-doors-down’s ID.4. The thing is, I don’t think MG really needed to do this, to tell bare-faced lies about its car in an effort to entice. I think that it could have done as well, if not better, by appealing to that greatest of all Irish urges – getting one up on one’s fellow citizens.

Interior.
Interior.

You see, if you’ve got a circa €30,000 budget to buy an electric car, then you’re probably going to be looking at three potential purchases. There’s the big-selling Renault Zoe. There’s the enormously successful Nissan Leaf. And there’s the gorgeous Peugeot e-208. All are excellent cars, but frankly for the same or similar cash, the MG has them well and truly done up like kippers.

The Zoe looks smart, drives pretty well, and has similar one-charge range to the MG, but it’s much, much smaller inside, to the point where you’re rubbing shoulders with a fellow front-seat occupant. The Leaf hits back with a cabin and boot that’s similarly roomy to that of the MG, but it’s lacking badly for range. The 40kWh version of the Leaf, comparable in price to the MG (actually undercutting the Anglo-Chinese car a little) can go for a mere 275km on a full charge, and much less than that in real life.

The Peugeot is wonderfully stylish inside and out, which the MG – which looks somewhat like a VW Passat that shrank in the wash – is not. But the Peugeot is tiny. The MG, by contrast, has a family-friendly 454-litre boot (578-litres if you pack it to the roof) so is wildly more practical.

All of which, with a 403km claimed one-charge range, can be yours for a mere €30,645 in basic form, or €33,895 for the upscale (relatively …) Exclusive model that we’re testing here.

The thing is, this isn’t the latest MG 5. There is actually a major facelift of this model in the pipeline, which has already been revealed in official photos. It gets a sleeker nose, that’s far more attractive than the stuck-on plastic grille of this model, along with a much-improved interior with a new infotainment system which surely can’t help but be better than the fiddly, awkward, slow system in this MG 5 (at least you can sidestep that by plugging in your phone and using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto).

Driver’s position.
Driver’s position.

Still, while it might lack for modernity, the MG 5 does have that big-ish 57kWh (useable) battery up its sleeve. Well, under its floor. That gives it the 403km range that we’ve talked about, and MG says that will stretch to beyond 500km if all your mileage is urban. Up on the motorway, it will drop, of course, but probably only to around 300-350km, which is slightly better than we recently squeezed out of a Citroen e-C4 (yet another car that the MG is more practical than …).

As ever, you don’t get something for nothing. The MG’s battery, and its 156hp electric motor, which drives the front wheels, are both pretty well cutting-edge. The rest of it isn’t. The dials are old-fashioned analogue units. Many of the cabin plastics are of sub-Lidl-spec. The driver’s seat is comfortable, but it felt ever so slightly broken in our test car. Small quibbles, to be sure, but they may be enough, for some, to upend the ownership experience.

Then again, MG is prepared to back itself with a seven-year, 150,000km warranty, so maybe we shouldn’t be put off by a wobbly seat bolster. On the road, the 5 is actually pretty decent. It’s at its best on the motorway, where a loping ride quality, those comfy seats, and decent refinement make it a pretty painless commuting tool.

It’ll charge at up to 100kW from a DC public charger, to you can refill the battery to 80 per cent power, from flat, in 40 minutes. It almost certainly helps that, being an estate, and therefore lower-slung than a crossover or SUV, it loses less range to aerodynamic resistance on longer runs, which is helpful.

On twisty roads, the 5 comes a touch unglued – that soft suspension runs out of ideas once you start putting bumps and corners together, so you’ll spend your time backing off and hoping that you’re not going to clatter into the bump-stops. As I said, it’s for commuting, really, not for back-road fun.

Which is fine. There’s nowt wrong with an honest, hard-working, simple car and that’s exactly what the MG 5 is. Yes, it would probably be smarter to wait until the more sophisticated, updated version arrives (assuming that it actually will, in right-hand drive – MG isn’t able to 100 per cent confirm that as yet) but for now, why not upset your neighbours with a bit of a bargain?

Lowdown: MG 5 EV Long Range

Power: 57.7kWh (net) battery with an 115kW electric motor developing 156hp and 260Nm of torque, driving a single-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive
CO2 emissions (annual motor tax): 0g/km (€120)
Electric consumption: 17.5kWh/100km
Range: 403km (WLTP Combined)
0-100km/h: 7.7sec
Price: €33,895 as tested; MG 5 starts at €30,645
Our rating: 3/5
Verdict: Cheap and actually cheerful