Updated MG 5 estate remains practical but flawed

MG’s electric load-lugger gets a new look but still lacks polish


You remember that priest from Father Ted, the one who really, really loves a good Mass? Yeah, that’s me with estate cars. I just kind of adore them. And with good reason – estates are, in general, usefully practical but also usually handsome, and almost certainly at least as dynamically talented as the saloons and hatchbacks upon which they are based.

They are also much, much, much better to drive – almost across the board – than any equivalent SUV. However, there is an issue. If you want to be Eamon Ryan’s golden child and buy an electric car (actually, to be Eamon’s golden child you’ve really got to give up cars altogether and just trudge around in the drizzle like an 18th-century peasant, but anyway…) there isn’t much of a choice of electric estates.

If you’ve just won the Lotto, you could get yourself a Porsche Taycan Turismo (in either low-slung Sport or high-riding Cross forms) and you absolutely should do that if you have the necessaries. Awesome car.

If you’re thinking a bit more sensibly and have a much, much smaller budget with which to play, then your only estate EV choice – at least until Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda get their fingers out – is this, the MG 5 EV.


This is a car which has been on sale for a while already, since 2020, in fact. When it came out first it was really the last of the ‘first generation’ new MG models, as the brand started to re-enter Europe under Chinese ownership (there is absolutely no real connection between this MG and the MG of 1960s sports car fame, beyond some signatures on a contract somewhere). Now, to bring its electric estate more into line with its modernised showroom offerings, MG has updated the 5.


There’s a new ‘face’ with a sleeker nose, blanked-off grille, slim headlights, and a faintly sportier air. Look down the sides and at the bootlid and you can clearly see that the 5 EV’s body is basically the same as before, but the new nose certainly looks smart.

Inside, the cabin has been given a thorough going over, with a new free-standing infotainment screen with dramatically updated software, better quality for pretty much all of the materials, a new dashboard design, and new digital instruments.

There’s a lot of good stuff going on in here. The majority of the materials used both look and feel good, and are easily the equal of what you might find in a European or Korean rival. The new seats are firmer and more supportive than before, and feel less like they’re going to collapse when you sit on them (in fact, they don’t feel like that at all – the old ones did, though).

There’s enough space in the back for a six-footer to get comfy behind the driver (although the high-set floor means your knees will stick up more than is ideal) and, again, quality seems very good. The boot, the car’s USP really, is very good. There’s a fraction less than 500 litres of luggage space under the load cover, and if you fold the back seats down there’s a very useful 1,367 litres of maximum load space. That’s excellent.


What’s not excellent are the details that MG seems to have forgotten about. Actually, it’s detail – singular. That detail being installing an infotainment system that actually works. The new software, pretty much the same as what you get in the deservedly popular MG 4 hatchback, looks smart enough but the buttons for all of the major functions are so small as to be impossible to use when the car is in motion. It’s literally hit or miss.

That would, in itself, be frustrating enough but then the screen seems to decide at random that it doesn’t want you to hit any buttons at all, and switches itself off. Not in a way that you can switch it on again – there’s no on/off switch. It just, on a whim, bricks itself, denying you access to functions such as sat-nav and infotainment, but also, and far more significantly, the air conditioning and climate controls. No amount of parking up and switching the car off and on again seemed to work. The screen, like a 1970s unionised car factory employee, just will not work if it doesn’t feel like it.

The battery range and efficiency is also not great, although closer to a ‘middling’ rating than the dreadful touchscreen. With a 61kWh battery, with about 57kWh of that usable. That gives you a claimed range of 403km. Which is fine, but not so great when you realise that the likes of Peugeot’s new e-2008 offers you the same (actually slightly greater) range from a battery that’s 54kWh gross, 51kWh usable capacity.

The MG 5′s power use is also a little on the poor side. On our test drive we managed to equal the claimed energy consumption of 17.9kWh/100km, which is good, but that’s a figure we’ve equalled, or bettered, over the same route in less clement conditions in larger, more powerful cars such as a Ford Mustang Mach-E (honestly, a seriously unsung electric car hero, that Mustang), and the Hyundai Ioniq 6.

It means that on our usual motorway run from south Dublin to Belfast, about 180-200km, depending on detours, the MG 5 struggled just a little. It will do the journey in one go, no bother, but it used 70 per cent of the battery’s capacity to do so, and as we started with just less than a full charge, it meant that the range was running seriously low by the time we got home. (Equally, the car failed to charge at all from the first ESB charger we stopped at, necessitating a longer run to a Maxol charger which, thankfully, worked fine – the charging network, if it still needs saying, is simply not fit for purpose).


To drive, the 5 EV is fine at low speeds and low efforts. The ride quality is really pleasantly soft, and deals well with urban speed bumps and ragged surfaces. It’s a comfy cruiser on the motorway too, although you do get a bit too much tyre noise unless the road surface is glassy-smooth. The adaptive cruise control works well, helping to keep you a safe distance from the car in front, but the lane keeping steering is a bit hair-trigger at times.

On a twisty road, there’s initially good turn-in, and the MG 5 feels eager, like an MG ought too, but press harder and there’s a slight shimmy from the back end, which doesn’t fill you with confidence.

As the only affordable electric estate car right now, it would seem churlish not to recommend the MG 5 EV, but it does still feel like a car that lacks the last layer of polish that the more accomplished MG 4 hatchback received.

If it weren’t for the awful infotainment system, I’d probably be more upbeat about it, but something like that just ruins your experience of a car, so the MG 5 loses a star, sad to say.

I still love the fact that it’s a useful, practical little thing, but the recent price increases (it now starts at €37,395, and this top-spec Exclusive model is €40,645) behoves MG to prove that it can do more than bargain-basement stuff, and the 5 EV really needs to be more efficient than it is. And you need to be able to see the screen, too.

Lowdown: MG 5 EV Exclusive Long Range

Power: 115kW e-motor developing 156hp and 279Nm of torque, powering the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission.

CO2 emissions (annual motor tax) 0g/km (€120).

Electric consumption: 17.9kWh/100km (WLTP).

Electric range: 403km (WLTP)

0-100km/h: 7.7 sec.

Price: €40,645 as tested, MG 5 EV starts from €37,395.

Our rating 2/5.

Verdict: You’ll love the price and the practicality, but the screen and the overall efficiency still need work.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring