MG 5 EV overview
MG's range continues to improve and impress with each new model that it launches. The 5 EV is somewhat caught in the midst of this change - it's still a relatively new model, but one that's not as new as the just-refreshed ZS electric crossover, and indeed one with a major facelift in the offing (albeit one that has not yet been 100 per cent confirmed for the Irish market). You can sort of tell that it's an 'old' MG thanks to the prominent grille that the 5 wears at the front, something that's being phased out in favour of a slimmer, beakier, more modern interpretation on the facelifted model. It's also slightly odd that in its Irish price list, MG refers to the 5 as being a 'crossover SUV' in its body style. We can only assume that this is in place to fool people into thinking that the 5 is not an estate - because that's actually what it is and it's all the better for it. So, how does this MG perform on Irish roads?
The MG 5 EV model range
The MG 5 EV's model line-up is pleasingly simple. You get a single battery option, with a likewise singular 156hp electric motor driving the front wheels. There are two trim levels, and optional extras are limited to either metallic paint (yours for €700 extra) or a more lustrous tri-coat paint (an extra €900).
With a starting price of €30,645, the MG 5 EV Long Range Excite models come with the 'MG Pilot' driver assistance package, which includes active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistant (which creeps the car forward in heavy, trickling traffic) and a nine-inch touchscreen, which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a rear parking camera and navigation. Alongside all that there are adjustable driving modes, selectable brake energy recuperation, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, leather steering wheel, an instrument panel that mixes analogue dials with a seven-inch digital screen, all-round electric windows and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Spend a little extra on the €33,895 Exclusive model that we're testing here and you get keyless entry and ignition, imitation leather upholstery, heated front seats (with the driver's seat getting electric adjustment), automatic air conditioning, heated door mirrors, rain sensing wipers and silver-coloured roof rails.
MG also offers a seven-year, 150,000km warranty that covers both the car and the battery. There's currently an offer of €72 per week repayments for a 5 EV on a 2.9 per cent APR PCP plan. You can check out the MG Ireland website for up-to-date offers.
The MG 5 EV interior
The MG 5's interior is a somewhat mixed bag. Some parts look and feel very good, and work well, but a few bits and pieces are rather old-school, and disappointingly so.
We should start with the practicality levels, though. At the MG 5's price point of just over €30,000, there's no other EV currently on sale that can compete with its mixture of practicality and range. The back seats are roomy (and rear-seat occupants get two USB sockets, the same as those in the front) and the boot out the back is hugely roomy - 454 litres up to the luggage cover, and MG points out that you can squeeze 578 litres of stuff in there if you load it to the roof. A Nissan Leaf is similarly roomy, and similarly priced, but can't get near the MG's range figure for the money. It just goes to show, not for the first time, what a sensible buy a compact estate can be.
Up front, you get a neat, sporty-looking three-spoke steering wheel (that's just faintly reminiscent of the one used in the old MG TF sports car from the early 2000s...) and a pretty tidy dashboard layout. The analogue dials look a little old-fashioned perhaps, but they're clear and straightforward. So too is the layout of the centre console, where you'll find the rotary gear selector, the buttons for selecting the driving mode and the brake energy recuperation settings, plus the heating and air conditioning controls. Everything looks smart and works just fine.
In the centre of the dash is the nine-inch touchscreen, and this is a little disappointing. The software looks rather old-fashioned in its graphics, and it's too-often slow to respond. That said, if you hook your phone up to the screen, it all works just fine using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Overall quality is pretty good - you'll find plenty of cheap plastics without looking too hard, but in general the 5's cabin seems well put together, aside from a driver's seat that felt slightly wobbly at times during our test drive.
The rear seats get ISOFIX anchors on the outer two seats, and there's a flat cabin floor that makes the centre rear seat just a touch more useable. Comfort levels are good, so the 5 should be kind to your back and bottom on a longer journey.
One thing to note; our Exclusive model comes with a quoted 75kg roof-rack load. MG initially said, when the 5 was launched, that the roof rails were 'decorative' and not actually for use, but this appears to have been a homologation issue, and they now can be used. Basic Excite models can take a 35kg roof load.
The MG 5 EV driving experience
MG quotes a WLTP one-charge range for the 5's 57kWh battery of 403km, which seems entirely realistic judging from our test. Obviously, that will drop if you're on the motorway all the time, but even here the MG pulls out an advantage - its sleek estate shape means that it cuts a smoother hole through the air than crossover rivals, so the drop-off in range seems less precipitous when you're on a multi-lane road. We reckon that you should be able to stretch the 5 to 300km at minimum between charges, with 400km and maybe even 450km doable if the majority of your mileage is in town, or on low-speed rural roads.
Actually, it's in the cruise that the 5 really performs best. Overall refinement is good, with well-suppressed wind and tyre noise. Seat comfort, as mentioned, is good too so you can sit back and relax quite nicely. The MG Pilot driver assistance system also works well, picking up other traffic early and clearly, with the active cruise control slowing and accelerating again smoothly, rather than suddenly smacking on the brakes.
Around town, the adjustable brake energy recuperation means that you have a bit of one-pedal driving available, although you'll need to use the physical brakes to come to a complete halt. The 5's large glass area means that visibility is excellent, which combines with its relatively compact size to make it really pleasant to drive along city streets.
It's a little less impressive to drive on the open road. Initially, the 5 impresses with fleet performance (it helps that it has, in EV terms, a trim kerb weight of 1,565kg) and quite sharp, responsive steering. The downside is that the softly-sprung suspension lacks rebound control, so on a bumpy road it starts to bounce around a little too much, which kind of precludes any enthusiastic driving.
Then again, that's not really what the 5 is for. In the main-road-to-city-road-and-back-again world that most EVs will inhabit, it's actually very decent. The battery charges from a combined Type 2 and CCS plug, and will take 26 hours to fully charge from a domestic three-pin socket. From a 7.4kW home wall box charger, you're looking at around nine hours for a full charge, while from a DC public charger, the 5 will take in a charge at a maximum 100kW, which gives it a flat-to-80 per cent charge time of 40minutes.
Our verdict on the MG 5 EV Long Range
I think we can chalk the MG 5 EV Long Range up as a pleasant surprise. Yes, you're dealing with the quality and finish limitations of having a bigger car for a smaller price tag, and it needs some suspension re-education for more challenging roads, but drive it in the way that most people will, and the 5 impresses. It's roomy, tolerably well-made, has good performance and pretty much unbeatable range and practicality for the money. Kind of hard to argue against...
What do the rest of the team think?
This really is a great-value, no-nonsense and rather practical electric car. As Neil mentioned, it feels in places like it's built to a tight budget (which it is), but that's what enables MG to sell it for such a good price.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor