MG5 EV review: What’s the catch?

Budget British brand offers an intriguing mix of practicality, range and value for money

Recently I reviewed the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon which epitomised the “heart not head” school of car buying. Now, I think I’ve found the diametric opposite - a car that, on paper, is hard to argue with but you’ll never love.

The MG5 is unique in the EV market in being a good old-fashioned estate car. There’s no plastic cladding or faux-4x4 styling here, just a (very) simple five-door body with passenger space for four (five at a push) and a decent amount of luggage space.

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It looks ungainly. Thanks, I suspect, to the thick floor that houses the battery, it sits awkwardly tall and the 16-inch alloys look a little lost. A cruel observer might say it looks like a cheap rip-off of a VW Passat, a more generous approach would be to say styling was perhaps less important than practicality and value when the MG5 was being developed.

Because, beneath the plain Jane styling the MG5 is a full-size family car with a 200+ mile range and pretty much all the equipment you could ask for that costs less than £30,000 once you’ve claimed the plug-in car grant.

In a world where the Honda e costs £32,00, for what is essentially a two-seat city car with a 100-mile range, the MG5 seems like great value.

First of all, there’s the space. There’s plenty of room for four passengers and you could squeeze in five if you really needed to. We’re not talking luxury levels of room but the MG5 is comparable with something like a Ford Focus or Suzuki Swace as a mid-sized family estate.

Behind the passengers, there’s a 464-litre boot. That’s around 100 litres less than in the Focus or Swace and a long way behind behemoths like the Skoda Octavia. It’s also hampered by a pronounced load lip. However, it’s still a more practical space than several similarly priced hatchbacks and still offers a decent amount of usable luggage space.

The MG is also surprisingly strong when it comes to its drivetrain. Don’t go expecting Tesla-like performance for your £30k but the MG5’s 154bhp motor is good enough for 0-60mph in just over 7 seconds. That oomph runs out at higher speeds but it’s perfectly adequate for this type of car.

More importantly, the “long-range” car (actually the only version on sale) comes equipped with a 61kWh battery - a useful amount more than more expensive family EVs like the Citroen e-C4 and comparable to more expensive versions of the Nissan Leaf.

The official range is 250 miles, with WLTP consumption of 3.6 miles/kWh. Pleasingly that’s actually achievable too. Across a week of mixed driving I managed 3.5 without any real effort to be economical, resulting in more than 200 miles of real-world range from a charge.

The MG name used to be associated with nimble sharp handling machines but the 5 is a very different beast that feels stable but uninvolving. It at least rides fairly well, with a composure that some far more expensive models can’t match.

Value has been one of MG’s biggest selling points since the badge was resurrected around a decade ago and, once again, the 5 is loaded with the kind of kit you wouldn’t necessarily expect for £30k. Adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, heated seats and steering wheel are all standard, as are dual-zone climate control, keyless entry auto-dipping headlights and lane keep assist. There’s also an eight-inch infotainment system, although the less said about that, the better. The MG OS is pretty woeful but thankfully Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported so you can easily avoid it.

After a week with the MG5 I was struggling to find the catch. It’s not perfect. It’s a bit odd to look at, dull to drive, the boot could be bigger and the infotainment system stinks. But... it’s a sub-£30k EV with a realistic range of at least 200 miles, a practical estate body style and most of the gadgets the modern driver wants. If your head rules your heart, it makes a lot of sense.

MG5 Long Range Exclusive

Price: £29,995 (including PiCG); Motor: Single 115kW; Battery: 61.1kWh; Power: 154bhp; Torque: 192lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed, front-wheel-drive; Top speed: 115mph; 0-62mph: 7.3 seconds; WLTP range: 250 miles; WLTP consumption: 3.6 miles/kWh; Charging: Up to 77kW