If you need a practical, functional car but you’ve been put off all-electric models by high prices and fussy looks, look no further than the MG 5 EV estate. Despite costing less than a Renault ZOE or Nissan Leaf, it has more space, an impressive turn of speed and a decent range.
Based on the Roewe Ei5, a car available in China, the MG 5 EV has a 52.5kWh battery that means it can travel up to 214 miles on a single charge and can be topped up to 80% in 50 minutes using a 50kW rapid-charger. While it’s certainly no sports car, a 154bhp electric motor means it can dispatch the 0-62mph run in 7.7 seconds, beating most of its conventionally powered rivals off the line.
Thanks to its practical, elongated shape, the 5 EV has a 464-litre boot that expands to 1,456 litres with the back seats folded down. There’s also plenty of room inside for up to five passengers, with two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the back.
The interior is distinctly ‘no-frills’, with quite a few hard plastics and a traditional design, but it’s not spartan either. There are only two trims, and the entry-level Excite includes an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 16-inch alloy wheels and air-conditioning. Spend just under £27,000 (after the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant) and Exclusive trim adds leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry and navigation.
While many electric models are out of reach because of their high prices, the MG 5 EV will appeal to buyers who value boot space as much as neck-snapping acceleration. It also offers a surprising diving range and plenty of kit.
A decent battery pack results in a useful range
Despite its budget billing, MG hasn’t skimped on the 5 EV’s battery. At 52.5kWh, it’s larger than the 40kWh pack fitted in a standard Nissan Leaf and gives the MG a range of up to 214 miles, which is also more than the 163 miles the MG ZS EV can manage.
During our test drive, we found the MG had a range of 191 miles on its readout, or 205 if we switched into Eco mode. This limits the power available to help preserve range but the car is still perfectly usable. The driver can also choose between three levels of regenerative braking, which ramp up the deceleration as you come off the accelerator, putting more energy back into the batteries.
50kW rapid charging is also standard, which is rather impressive for such an affordable model, as some manufacturers charge extra for this hardware. It’s claimed to take the charge to 80% in 50 minutes, while a full charge from a home wallbox takes around 8.5 hours. Using a three-point plug is possible but best saved for emergencies, as a full charge will take around 18 hours.
One of the biggest benefactors of the 5 EV could be the company-car crowd, because its zero emissions mean it qualifies for 0% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) in 2020/21 and 1% BiK in 2021/22. Private buyers will also benefit from free car tax – a saving of £150 a year.
Buyers should be more than happy with the 5 EV’s straight-line performance. Thanks to its 154bhp electric motor it can get from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, making it faster than most petrol and diesel rivals like the Ford Focus Estate and Kia Ceed Sportswagon. We doubt most drivers will use its hot hatchback acceleration very often, but it’s there if you need to nip in front of someone at the lights or overtake on a country road.
Handling is less of a strength, with soft suspension resulting in a fair amount of body lean and numb steering. It will be fine for most drivers who are concerned with preserving range, but try to push the car hard and it struggles.
The MG 5 EV’s handling doesn’t quite match up to its straight-line speed
3 / 5
Costing less than a Renault ZOE despite being the size of a family estate car, it’s clear the MG 5 EV has been built to a budget. This is most obvious inside, where there are some hard plastics on display. It all feels rather traditional, with none of the widescreen displays of the Honda e, a partly analogue instrument cluster and a distinct lack of the more cutting-edge gadgets.
What’s more impressive is the standard kit on the Excite model, which includes an eight-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors and cruise control. Costing around £2,500 more, Exclusive adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, sat nav, automatic air-conditioning, keyless entry, automatic wipers and a dimming rear-view mirror.
Despite the MG 5 EV’s soft suspension, some road imperfections are still transmitted inside the car, so you’re likely to feel motorway expansion joints and potholes through the bottom of your seat.
The MG 5 is functional and traditional but the kit count isn’t bad at all
MG knows it has to persuade customers away from brands with more established reputations and it’s offering a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty to help do this. Electric cars should inherently be more reliable than petrol or diesel models because they have far fewer moving parts under the bonnet. We expect MG’s electric motor and battery pack will prove tough and resilient.
The MG ZS EV could only manage a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and we aren’t expecting the 5 EV to do much better. It’s fitted with front, side and curtain airbags, an auto-hold handbrake and a tyre pressure monitoring system. However, some of the latest active safety technology isn’t present, presumably to keep production costs down. This means it doesn’t have autonomous emergency braking, designed to automatically apply the brakes to help prevent a collision.
A long warranty impresses but safety may not
The MG 5 offers plenty of space inside
One of the MG 5 EV’s main strengths is its size – it’s the first affordable electric estate car on sale in the UK. Needless to say, there’s lots of room in the front and back seats, so four adults can travel in comfort.
There’s 464 litres of space behind the rear seats up to the parcel shelf, or 578 litres to the roofline. That’s not too far behind the hybrid Toyota Corolla Touring Sports with a 581-litre boot. It’s a shame there’s a loading lip to lift items over but the impressive space for such a cheap EV helps make up for it. Folding the rear seats down frees up 1,456 litres of storage room.