As the only electric estate car in the market, the MG 5 fills a handy niche because, as the brand is very aware, there’s a real shortage of choice for companies wanting a practical car with which to take their fleet electric.
On the road
On the road
The MG 5 has plenty going for it, with a very reasonable P11D of £27,540 for the lower of the two trim levels, which is called Excite. This rises by £2500 for the Exclusive, a specification that brings a significant equipment improvement.
1. The KERS switch toggles between three levels or regeneration, with pronounced differences between each setting.
2. The electronic handbrake auto-engaging when you switch off the car is a useful touch sometimes missing on budget brands.
3. The speedo is positively tiny, and you really need to set the main dash to the digital speed display, which means you can’t have any of the other functions displayed.
The battery-range figure is also one that will inspire a degree of confidence among the higher-mileage job-need community, with an official figure of 214 miles that should convert to something not too far from 200 in the real world.
MG, which claims to be the UK’s fastest-growing brand, expects its electric and plug-in hybrid models to account for more than half of its sales in 2021, and this is a company that says it was the UK’s fourth-most-popular EV brand last year.
Dimensions-wise, the MG 5 is slightly shorter than the likes of the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra estates, but it’s in the right area, and despite packaging the batteries, it is within 100 litres of those two internal-combustion-engined cars for boot space. Indeed, its 464 litres of capacity to the parcel shelf is more than that offered by the plug-in hybrid estates from Kia or Renault, for example. That space extends to 578 litres by filling to the roof, or 1456 litres by dropping the 60:40 split rear seats. The only gripe about the luggage area is the big drop down from the lip into the boot – this isn’t an estate where heavy loads can be slid in and out; they will have to be lifted.
Rear passenger space is impressive, and there is plenty of head and legroom for four full-sized people, although a small practicality frustration is the nose-mounted charging socket, requiring the non-textbook front-entry to charging spaces, and therefore reversing out into traffic.
The cabin on our higher-spec Exclusive test car is a contrasting tale. The seats themselves are big and comfortable sports seats that are at odds with a) the rest of the cabin, and b) the MG 5’s whole electric-workhorse nature. They feel like they belong in something much more focused on performance, but are lovely in terms of comfort and support. Unfortunately, they don’t make a non-sporty car any sportier to drive.
They also seem a strange fit in a car where the cabin looks good quality, until you get a little closer and find that the softer materials aren’t soft for long, and there’s a hard surface close beneath, while other surfaces are just hard plastic to begin with. It seems that MG has made few attempts to hide the 5’s budget car position.
The infotainment looks good, if not the most modern of systems, but there are lengthy delays with entering or searching for a navigation destination, with significant pauses between each letter as you type.
But equipment levels are pretty good, particularly on the higher of the two trims. The entry model is reasonable, with the likes of rear parking sensors and camera, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto fitted, along with an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, but the £2500 increase to the Exclusive trim adds silver roof rails, folding and heated door mirrors, leather upholstery, an electric heated driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, climate control rather than air-conditioning, keyless entry (although only the front doors) and satellite navigation, as well as illuminated mirrors on the sun visors. It’s certainly a lot of kit for the extra cash, especially with sat-nav, but does take the MG 5 to a touch over £30,000 before the Government’s £2500 grant off the list price, although not the P11D value.
The MG 5 has a neat turn of pace, especially off the line where all electric vehicles tend to offer an immediacy you don’t get with petrol or diesel power, and it feels quicker than the numbers suggest. The powertrain is definitely MG’s best electric effort so far, massively surpassing the early-EV feel of the ZS model, and providing a more fluid and flawless experience than the plug-in hybrid HS when running on the battery alone; the HS suffers the occasional unseemly splutter.
There are three regeneration levels adjustable via the KERS switch in the middle of the car, each offering a marked change in the car’s deceleration when you lift off the accelerator. The highest level offers the potential for almost one-pedal driving with the amount it slows the car when the driver lifts, while the other two settings are significantly milder.
While the ride isn’t perfect, it absorbs bumps nicely and doesn’t feel heavy the way some EVs can because of the weight of the batteries. However, there is a surprising amount of wind and road noise to be heard at higher speeds.
It’s not unfair to say the MG is a car that puts substance over style. It’s certainly not an ugly car, but it’s not a design that will live long in the memory of anyone that it silently cruises past. The looks are bland but inoffensive, and it’s definitely an electric car that doesn’t come across as desperate for people to notice its environmental credentials. Or notice it at all, which fits with the reoccurring theme of a car that just gets on and does the job.
Looking at the rivals, there are no EV estates, so as a job-need sort of company car, the choices are diverse, but generally congregate in a more SUV-shaped body style. The cheaper EVs to buy are generally smaller and have a much lower range – looking at the likes of the Mini Electric, Honda e or Mazda MX-30, as well as Fiat’s new 500e. The nearest sensible competition includes the entry Nissan Leaf or Kia e-Niro models, as well as MG’s own ZS small crossover, which are within a close enough price bracket, given the sparsity of options at present, despite the rapid acceleration in number of EVs on sale.
All have their respective strengths, but none has the sheer load-lugging ability or out-and-out practicality of the MG estate.
The only issue from a running costs point of view is the surprisingly high insurance group of 32 for either trim level, while any conventionally fuelled petrol models, or the car’s electric rivals, are all 21 or below. That means the MG 5 will cost around £1300 more in insurance over three years than any of its nearest EV rivals, hampering its whole-life cost.
It may not be particularly stylish, but the MG 5 will succeed in an environment where the ability to do the job is paramount, and no-one else is offering a budget electric model that’s quite so focused on getting things done.
The MG 5 is the second production electric vehicle from MG, the classic British brand that has been under the ownership of Chinese company SAIC Motor since 2006, following the collapse of MG Rover.
UK sales have grown from 133 in 2008 to more than 18,000 in 2020. The model range now comprises the MG 3 small hatchback launched in 2013 and revised in 2018 (pictured), MG ZS small crossover that followed in late 2017 and the MG HS larger crossover that was launched in late 2018, and to which a PHEV powertrain was added in 2020. The brand had also sold a MG 6 lower-medium model, but dropped it in 2016 ahead of a second-generation car still sold in Asian markets.
At present, the UK is still MG’s only European market, and its new car share for the first four months of this year has grown from 1.13% in April 2020 to 1.46% at the end of April 2021, driven by its latest plug-in products.
The ZS model became MG’s first electric car when it launched in 2019 with an official range of 163 miles, and the plug-in hybrid HS larger crossover joined the range at the same time as the estate 5 electric model.
What they said
What They Said
"There are multiple reasons why MG5 EV is the ideal fleet car. Whether it’s for multi-drop urban work or commuting to and from an office or to visit clients, MG5 EV’s combination of range, efficiency and ultra-low fleet running costs make it a very difficult prospect to ignore."
Geraint Isaac, national fleet sales manager, MG Motor
Need to know
Three things we like...
There’s a lot of EV info on the dashboard trip computer
The seats are big, comfy and look good; a cut above the rest of the cabin
The estate body shape is unique to the EV sector at the moment
...And one we don't
The loose fit to the charge socket is a sign that build quality isn’t at premium levels
The MG 5 has a good turn of pace, and handles tidily enough for a regular estate car.
The official range figures are always a little out of reach, but not far off 200 miles is realistic.
Peerless in terms of EV load-lugging ability, and the MG will comfortably take four adults.
Decent equipment levels, although there isn’t the ability to add optional extras. Higher trim level brings plenty of equipment for the £2500 extra cost.
The styling is inoffensive but rather on the bland side. There’s not a lot to make the car stand out – it’s function over form.
Comfort and refinement 7/10
The ride is perfectly acceptable with little complaint, especially taking into account that it’s an EV with extra weight over a petrol model, it’s more impressive. Wind noise is less impressive.
Aside from the lovely seats in the higher-spec model, the cabin is all a bit on the budget side. Even the softer bits of the dash have solid material just below the surface.
Reaction time isn’t the best, but it’s all perfectly functional otherwise, and everything is logically laid out.
Whole life costs 7/10
RVs are good for a budget brand, but SMR costs aren’t the best and the insurance group is very high.
CCT opinion 8/10
It’s not the most exciting car on the surface, but MG has opened up a niche that wasn’t previous served, and in a decent fashion.
An acceptable range, plenty of estate practicality and a fair amount equipment for the price, the MG 5 is the most sensible of sensible cars. In a good way.