MG adds another full-electric model to its range in the shape of this MG5 EV compact estate. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
MG continues to specialise in providing budget brand buyers access to full electrification at super-affordable prices. Here's the company's second zero emissions model, the MG5 EV, a compact estate that offers a 214 mile driving range and a spacious cabin seemingly little compromised by this model's advanced battery tech. All for a reasonably conventional price. Exciting? Possibly not. Clever? Definitely.
Another fresh MG model - and it's not an SUV. The MG5 EV is electrified though - which is up to the minute, even if the genre of this car, a compact estate, is quite traditional. Basically, what's on offer here is an alternative to these compact SUV electric models that are now springing up, but at a much lower price and with more interior space. This MG5 is basically a European-ised version of a model from MG's Chinese parent group SAIC, the Roewe Ei5. Over 63,000 examples of that car have been sold to Chinese folk since it was launched in back in March 2018. So MG hopes the auspices are good for the chances of this car establishing a little niche for itself in our market.
It's a sign of the times that you can't have any sort of combustion engine in an MG5, not even a plug-in hybrid one. And it's a reflection of the needs of the European market that the single EV model we do get is quite a lot more powerful than the version offered to the Chinese. Output has been raised by 42PS to 156PS reflecting the fact that family folk here have been conditioned to expect their EVs to be quite quick; so this one gets to 62mph in just over 8 seconds, on the way to a rather un-EV-like top speed of 115mph. Those family folk will be expecting a reasonably long driving range too, hence the installation of a gutsy 52.2kWh lithium-ion battery that's WLTP-rated at 214 miles. As usual in a full EV, the battery is mounted centrally under the floor in a manner that gives a low centre of gravity. This, to some extent, offsetting the inevitable downsides of the EV powertrain's extra weight. MG claims very similar handling characteristics to the conventionally-fuelled Chinese market model.
MG already sells the market's most affordable family-sized EV contender, the ZS EV. But while that model won't be quite big enough for some families, this contender might well be. It's 4.54m long, which, to give you some perspective, is about 100mm shorter than a Ford Focus Estate, though this MG's 2.6m wheelbase is only 43mm shorter than that Ford's. This MG5 is 1.82m wide and 1.54m tall too. The exterior styling is restrained and conservative, though not particular suggestive of a budget brand. You'll want to know about boot space, which is 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 1456-litres. Up-front, the fit and finish is close to volume brand standards, without feeling especially plush. The top 'Exclusive'-spec variant that most will want enhances things with niceties like leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof. On the rear seat, there's ample headroom and legroom, even for taller occupants.
There are two trim levels, base 'Excite' and 'Exclusive', with respective asking prices starting at around £24,500 for the 'Excite' variant - that's after the government's £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant has been deducted. 'Excite' trim gets you 16-inch 'Meteor' alloy wheels, remote entry with push-button start, air conditioning, four electric windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, smartphone compatibility, an eight-inch colour touchscreen and seven-inch driver information display, cruise control, a leather steering wheel, a rotary gear selector, speed-sensing locking, three driving modes, rear parking sensors and follow-me-home headlights, as well as a 7-year warranty. The top 'Exclusive' version adds leather-style upholstery with heated front seats featuring six-way electric adjustment for the driver. Plus at this level there's one-shot electric rear windows, silver roof rails, electrically adjustable folding heated mirrors, smart keyless entry with push-button start, an automatically dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and satellite navigation. Safety features fitted across the range include mostly passive systems - there's not much in terms of camera-driven tech. You do though get 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.
Earlier we mentioned this car's 214 mile WLTP-rated driving range (51 miles more than a ZS EV) - which rises to 276 miles on the WLTP city cycle. 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, the car can charge from 0-80% in 50 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 52.2kWh 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 0% Benefit-in-Kind tax during the 2020-21 tax year, or 1% in 2021-22. Insurance is group 32D.
As MG's sales grow, its model range widens. The brand's last family-sized model that wasn't a crossover was the MG6, a car that struggled to find any sort of sales traction at all in the UK market. This MG5 has much more to recommend it for sensible family folk wanting to take the plunge into full-EV motoring. For the price of a planet polluting mid-range Focus or Astra estate, you could have one of these, a car just as practical with 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?