- It certainly looks new
- Has anything changed under the skin?
- So is it any good to drive?
- What’s changed on the inside?
► Facelifted estate still in a class of one► It’s no thriller – and not trying to be
► New face, updated interior, 250-mile range, from £30,995
Electric estate cars are a particularly rare breed – the MG 5 is, technically speaking, one of just two offered in the UK. Yet even the most tenuous of links struggles to connect this £30,995 load-lugger with the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo – for all practical purposes, the MG flies solo, as a pragmatic alternative to larger, flashier EV SUVs.
Launched in the UK a couple of years ago to not much fanfare, the MG 5 quickly found favour with private customers and fleets alike – you’ll find many operating as minicabs, for example, where plenty of space and low running costs offset a drab interior and styling so anonymous it could be one of those faceless models from a car insurance advert… from 2005. It’s obviously worked, as it’s now one of the best-selling estate cars in the country. All contributing to MG’s place in the sales charts – shockingly, above Skoda, Land Rover, and Citroen to name a few.
A light update in 2021 brought a longer range (up to 250 miles WLTP) and some equipment upgrades, but 2022’s facelift is significantly more substantial.
It certainly looks new
From the front, at least. It’d be charitable to say it’s goodlooking but it’s now at least more modern, with slim LED headlights, deeper bumpers and generally sharper edges all round. The side detailing’s still awkward, though, and the rear’s virtually unchanged save for a mildly tweaked bumper and new light clusters – partially LED, but the brake lights and indicators are still halogen.
It’s at least much more in line with the new MG 4 and facelifted ZS EV, giving MG a fairly cohesively styled range of cars.
The same goes for the interior, where the new dashboard has a higher centre console, better-quality materials and the same 10.25-inch infotainment screen as the MG 4.
Other particularly useful updates are the introduction of towing capacity – up to 500kg, if you don’t mind – and standard roof bars on all models. Less useful but quite flashy is V2L functionality – the ability to use the car’s 61kWh battery pack to power a 240V household supply. Handy if you’re camping, we suppose?
Has anything changed under the skin?
No, not that it particularly needed to. You get the same 61kWh battery as the previous Long Range model, powering a 154bhp electric motor on the front axle.
MG claims up to 250 miles of range – we saw about 220 miles indicated and over 100 mixed miles of testing that prediction remained very accurate. That’s not the longest range around, with even MG’s own 4 and ZS EV offering more miles per charge, but it’s still pretty competitive with most mid-sized EVs.
It’ll charge at up to 87kW, so a 10-80% topup can be completed in 35 minutes – not the fastest, but not bad. Annoyingly, though, the charge port is still located at the very front of the vehicle, meaning it’s not just vulnerable to careless rear-end shunts but it forces you to park nose-in.
So is it any good to drive?
206lb ft of instant electric torque put through skinny front tyres means the MG 5 is quite happy to light its tyres up out of junctions or on anything but a bone-dry road. Switch the traction control back on, though, and go for a less lead-footed approach and you’ll find the 5 quite quick.
It’ll reach 62mph from rest in 7.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 115mph. In practice, it’s swift up to the legal limit, with enough in reserve for safe overtakes if needed. You can select between three driving modes – ‘Eco’ puts a wet blanket over proceedings while ‘Sport’ makes the throttle response hyperactive. Standard ‘Comfort’ mode is the best of the three.
Perhaps surprisingly the 5 doesn’t disgrace itself in the bends. The car’s light steering doesn’t give a lot of feedback but weights up reassuringly where needed, body roll is well-contained and the suspension effectively deals with undulations in the road. It’s not as much fun as the MG 4 or even a VW ID.3, but it’s more than acceptable for the price.
You’ll find a switch on the dash labelled ‘KERS’ which ought to give F1 fans a titter on something so resoundingly unsporting. It actually controls the level of regen – at level 1, you can coast after lifting off the throttle almost undeterred, but level 3 offers a meaningful braking effect. It won’t take you down to a full stop for pure one-pedal driving, but it’s a start.
Included as standard is MG’s ‘MG Pilot’ system of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping aids. This works just fine on the motorway, but the lane-keeping’s very aggressive on country roads, so you’ll definitely want to switch it off as soon as you hit anything smaller than an A road.
What’s changed on the inside?
The interior upgrade is fairly substantial. The centre console’s higher up than before, and material quality’s seen a boost all round – you now even get an attractive fabric strip across the width of the dash. It’s still not up to Kia standards of solidity and plushness, with the latest Niro EV a lesson in how to screw together a mid-range EV, but it’s an improvement over the old car for sure.
The infotainment screen is a big step forwards too, and it’s now the same 10.25-inch display found in the MG 4. That means it’s high-quality and pretty responsive, albeit blessed with an interface that’s slightly too bogged down with tiny buttons. And given nearly all the car’s controls are now routed through here, that’s irritating.
The 7” driver display and LCD readouts for speed and power, meanwhile, aren’t as nice as the straight screen on the MG 4 – they’re pretty busy to look at and the graphics appear cheap.
What hasn’t changed is the space on offer, which is good but possibly not as capacious as you’d hope for from a car pitched as an estate. MG claims 578 litres of boot space, but that’s measured up to the roof – under the parcel shelf is a rather more modest boot. It’s still practical, as it’s a nice square shape and the seats go down easily, but don’t assume that just because it’s an estate there’s more outright room than in an SUV like a Megane E-Tech, with its deeper, taller boot.
The same goes for the rear seats, which are capacious enough for six-footers but not exactly luxurious. And you sit high up – a problem that extends to the front, where even at the seat’s lowest position you feel rather perched. Another issue are the seats themselves, which have very aggressive lumbar support that’s non-adjustable. Some might find it a boon for their achy backs, but we just found it outright uncomfortable.
The other change? The price tag. The MG 5 now starts at £30,995 for an SE trim car – that’s a £1300 price increase over the outgoing model. For that you do get the MG Pilot assisted driving features, Carplay and Android Auto, app functionality and LED lights – just about everything we’d want from a cheap EV. It does make the £33,495 Trophy car seem an unnecessary upgrade, since it only adds heated seats, climate control, a low-quality 360-degree camera and privacy glass to the package.
There was never anything truly wrong with the way the old MG 5 drove, so this facelift focusing on the styling and interior seems well-targeted. This is still a good EV and in a class of one if you’re after an all-electric estate car.
Plenty of standard equipment plus a seven-year warranty should keep those who bought the previous car just as happy, while the range is plenty long enough for most uses. Its biggest problem? The new MG 4…
While the 5’s starting price is still pretty cheap – it’s nearly six grand less than a more meanly-equipped e-Niro or ID.3, for instance – it still seems pricey next to the outstandingly good value 4, which undercuts it by £2,500 for a Long Range model capable of more miles per charge in a more modern, almost-as-practical package that’s better to drive. Even with strong residuals, finance packages have the same issue.
There’s plenty of supply of new MG 5s – the brand reckons you’ll only have to wait between 3-4 months for a factory order, in stark contrast to most of its rivals. And if you really want the load length and unassuming image that an estate car provides, nothing else will serve you quite as well. Just test drive a 4 before leaving the showroom…