Forget the string-back driving gloves, classic car image you may associate with MGs of old because the brand has since evolved into a Chinese-backed builder of affordable everyday cars delivering excellent value for money and a no-nonsense image. MG’s big sell now is offering an affordable route into electrification, which is proving very popular among buyers with cars like this MG5 estate. If not especially glamorous, it’s efficient, cheap to buy and run and – as the dog owners who voted it their favourite in the 2022 Free Trader UK New Car Awards will attest - is as dependable and unflashy as a favourite pair of wellies. At the time of writing a revised MG5 with updated styling and improved tech is reaching showrooms, which we’ll review as soon as possible. For now, we’ll focus on the outgoing one, which is fundamentally similar under the skin.
“Value for money is, of course, a key motivation for choosing an MG but the brand’s advantage here narrows when compared with some other big-name EVs”
All the usual running cost advantages for electric cars of course apply to the MG5, including cheaper VED/road tax and Benefit In Kind, not to mention the attraction of much reduced ‘fuel’ costs over a petrol or diesel car if you have scope to get a home charger installed and can top up the battery overnight on an off-peak tariff. Value for money is, of course, a key motivation for choosing an MG but the brand’s advantage here narrows when compared with some other big-name EVs, with cars like the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Kia Soul either priced comparably or a temptingly short stretch away on monthly finance costs. There's no escaping the fact the MG looks and feels a bit cheap in comparison with these more desirable rivals, making the case for the MG5 perhaps a little less convincing than it its for others in the range.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a MG MG5
“It’s a smart decision to demonstrate the faith in its products by including a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty”
Although the name has been around for years MG recognises its current range of products are a bit of an unknown quantity, while the Chinese heritage may (unfairly) be seen to count against it. So, it’s a smart decision to demonstrate the faith in its products by including a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty that can be carried over to any subsequent owners for both peace of mind and to preserve resale values in the medium to long-term.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a MG MG5
“Under the MG Pilot branding this wraps up the kit modern drivers expect, including brakes that engage automatically if you don’t respond to a hazard in front of you”
Early versions of the MG5 were pretty basic in terms of their safety kit and driver assistance functions but that improved considerably with the introduction of the Long Range model reviewed here, and carried over into the facelifted one arriving soon. Under the MG Pilot branding this wraps up the kit modern drivers expect, including brakes that engage automatically if you don’t respond to a hazard in front of you, steering tweaks to keep you in your lane and automatic cruise control to maintain a safe distance to the car in front in busy traffic. If, perhaps, a little over-sensitive it all seems to work well enough, though if you’re buying a used MG5 be aware that if it’s not the Long Range version the safety aids are pretty much limited to rear parking sensors!
Expert rating: 3/5
How comfortable is the MG MG5
“We struggled to find a comfortable position, despite power adjustment for the seats and a steering wheel you can tweak for both height and reach”
The estate stance of the MG5 is, no doubt, one of the reasons it’s so popular with dog owners, the lower boot sill making it easier for four-legged friends to jump in the back. Same goes for loading shopping or whatever else you may want to sling in the spacious luggage area. It’s also a benefit on the road compared with an SUV or crossover, given the suspension doesn’t have to be stiffened up to cope with the extra ride height. Indeed, MG has clearly prioritised comfort over handling and the 5 rolls around quite a bit in the corners, the trade-off being good isolation from lumps and bumps. From the driver’s seat we struggled to find a comfortable position, despite power adjustment for the seats and a steering wheel you can tweak for both height and reach – even with the latter it always felt too far away for us while the trim on the rim felt rough to the touch. The cushion material on the seats isn’t especially supportive either, the manual lumbar adjustment meanwhile feeling like someone behind is jabbing their knees into the small of your back. Truth be told, it’s details like this where the MG starts to feel its price and spending a bit more on the Soul, Leaf or other big-name alternative might seem worthwhile.
Expert rating: 3/5
Features of the MG MG5
“With just two trim levels to choose from the higher one with its faux leather, heated front seats, keyless start and other features is probably the one to go for”
It’s again worth noting we’re reviewing the outgoing version of the MG5 here, the new one getting some significant improvements, including an app where you can manage charging through your phone and a much bigger 10.25-inch central screen. Going by the basic graphics and functionality of the 8-inch screen on our test car that’s badly needed as well, though to be fair it’s a simple system to get to grips with and the comforts of your phone’s apps are never far away via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as suits. With just two trim levels to choose from the higher one with its faux leather, heated front seats, keyless start and other features is probably the one to go for, the new range following a similar structure and featuring fresh tech like a ‘vehicle to load’ system where you can use your car as a mobile power bank with a mains socket for powering garden appliances, charging e-bikes or even plugging in a fridge on a glamping trip. That’s not on the car you see here, but is something we look forward to trying on the revised version.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a MG MG5
“In our hands the MG5 would go about a quarter further for each kWh you put into the battery than the likes of a VW ID.3”
The MG5 launched with a smaller battery capable of just over 200 miles on a full charge, the Long Range version tested here capable of more like 250 miles or, MG claims, well over 300 in stop-start city driving. Certainly, it seems to make very efficient use of the power it has, which suggests MG’s electric tech is more sophisticated than the rather old-fashioned looks suggest. To put that into context, in our hands the MG5 would go about a quarter further for each kWh you put into the battery than the likes of a VW ID.3, proving the MG makes your money literally go further both in terms of purchase price and running costs. It’s also surprisingly fast, with an impressive turn of pace when you need it. A pity then the motor powering the windscreen wipers seems louder than that driving the car, somewhat spoiling the otherwise impressive refinement you’d expect of an electric vehicle!