MG 5 EV review: this electric estate is now a tempting option thanks to mid-life upgrades

MG5 EV - Richard Parsons
MG5 EV - Richard Parsons

If you want to buy an electric estate car, this is it. No, really – for now, at least, there’s no alternative to the MG 5 EV (unless you count the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo, which sits at the opposite end of the market in terms of its price, and whose estate credentials are somewhat questionable anyway).

It is, then, the car many families have been crying out for – a practical, sensibly priced battery-powered estate, with a usable range and decent energy efficiency. But until now, it’s fallen short of greatness for several reasons, chief among them the quality of its interior, an ungainly driving position and uncomfortable seats.

MG has been listening, though. The 5 EV has received a series of mid-life upgrades intended to rectify these issues and into the bargain it’s gained a more distinctive front end to replace the old, lose-it-in-a-car-park face. So, is this now the perfect electric family estate?

Pros

  • Great to drive

  • Smart interior

  • Good value

Cons

  • Fiddly, glitchy infotainment system

  • Still some cheap-feeling plastics

  • Range and charging speeds aren’t great

Under the skin

There are only two versions of the 5 EV to choose from: SE and Trophy, both gaining the long-range battery that first became available in 2021; the short-range version is no longer on offer.

The SE costs £31,000-odd, with the Trophy tested here costing £2,500 more. Both are pretty well equipped for the price, the former getting sat-nav, air conditioning, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and LED lights, the latter also gaining heated seats, automatic wipers, a 360-degree parking camera and faux leather upholstery.

Interestingly, both versions have vehicle to load (V2L) functionality as standard, which means they can be used to power external electrical devices or even feed power back into your home during a blackout – something that’s only an option on most EVs these days, and isn’t available at all on others.

MG 5 EV - Richard Parsons
MG 5 EV - Richard Parsons

Beneath the skin the 5 EV is unchanged: the official combined range is 250 miles in the SE, or 235 miles in the Trophy. So expect 175-200 real-world miles in the former, and 165-190 in the latter, although there’s no heat pump which means colder temperatures will affect the 5 EV’s battery more than those with one (in short, batteries don’t like being too hot or too cold).

You get an on-board charger capable of a maximum charging rate of 87kW, with an average of 60kW. That means a 10 to 80 per cent boost will take 35 minutes; it’s slower to charge, in other words, than a Citroën ë-C4 which, despite being a hatchback, is otherwise the 5 EV’s most direct rival.

The ë-C4 is more efficient, too, at 4.1 miles per kWh (mpkWh) versus the 5 EV’s 3.5, which means the MG will cost more over time, especially at today’s inflated electricity prices. That said, you’ll have to charge the ë-C4 more often due to its 217-mile official range, which might make it the less convenient of the two to own. Especially so if you’re heavily reliant on public charging.

Interior revamp

It might be the same under the skin, but once you climb in the 5 EV it’s all change. There’s been a huge uplift in both style and quality; from within, this car is markedly better than before.

Granted, there are still a couple of places where the plastics don’t feel very robust, but they have been kept to a minimum thanks to some neat use of materials; there’s a swathe of fabric that cuts across the dash, for example, and this extends onto the padded door pulls, giving you somewhere comfortable to rest your elbows while driving. The switchgear feels a bit cheap, too, but the buttons are at least big, and easy to prod at a moment’s notice.

MG 5 EV
MG 5 EV

There are relatively few of them, though, because the climate controls have now been included into the car’s infotainment system, which feels like a retrograde step given one of the old 5’s best features was its clear, easy-to-use climate control panel. In fact, it feels more like a blatant following of fashion than a judgement of good usability.

Given the infotainment system isn’t the greatest, this makes adjusting the temperature, fan speed or air direction needlessly distracting. And it’s compounded by the fact there’s no ‘back’ function, so to get back to where you wanted to be you must instead press ‘home’ first to return to the main screen.

As a result, each climate control adjustment takes a total of four on-screen ‘button’ presses (including turning the heated seats on or off – they’re controlled via the screen) – with proper switches, it would only be one.

Touchscreen tantrums

The rest of the touchscreen feels a little laggy to use, even though it’s been refreshed, and our test car developed an unusual glitch whereby when using Apple CarPlay the display would lag behind, so you’d press it and it would react several seconds later.

This extended to the sat-nav apps, so while audio prompts came through the speakers at the right time, the map would show you about 500 yards behind your actual location, which made life interesting when trying to work out which of two right-hand turns to take.

So the updates to the dashboard are a mixed blessing. Elsewhere, though, there’s better news.

MG 5 EV
MG 5 EV

The driving position is still a bit odd; you sit up high, with the wheel in your lap. The pedals are quite close, but the steering wheel’s reach adjustment isn’t extensive, so if you’re long of leg you feel as though you have to lean forward to reach the wheel.

Given the base of the driver’s seat is canted forward slightly and can’t be tilted back, you get a sense the seat is trying to spill you forward into the driver’s footwell.

Thankfully, the seats are an awful lot more comfortable than before, which is primarily a result of the addition of adjustable lumbar support. In fact, this is probably the most worthwhile and significant upgrade that the facelift has brought.

The old 5’s front seats offered so little lower back support that they caused serious back aches after about half an hour. While they still aren’t class-leading in terms of comfort, you can now spend long periods in them without feeling pain.

Space shuttle

It’s roomy inside, too. There are huge spaces to stash odds and ends in the front, and in the back there’s more than enough knee room for taller occupants to sit behind one another. And while there’s not quite as much space as in a diesel-powered Skoda Octavia or Seat Leon, the flat floor means middle-seat occupants are treated less like an afterthought.

MG 5 EV
MG 5 EV

The boot is vast, too, while a variable-height floor increases its flexibility. Raise it to create a flush load bay with the rear seats folded flat, or lower it to increase volume with them upright. This sort of space and versatility is on a par with petrol or diesel rivals – which makes it rare in an electric car.

And if you’re thinking this is all very well, but the 5 EV is going to be a bit soulless and wobbly once you get it out on the road, you’d be wrong.

On the road

In fact, its chassis is beautifully judged; it doesn’t flop over all the time, but it’s still soft enough that it blocks out most of the bumps and glosses over grotty patches of rural tarmac.

MG 5 EV
MG 5 EV

It can even feel quite sporty; the steering is direct and progressive and even delivers a little bit of weight as cornering speeds increase.

What’s more impressive, though, is the traction; where some front-wheel-drive electric cars get horribly scrabbly if you feed in the power too quickly, the 5 just grips and goes, with very little kickback through the steering. As with the old car, it feels almost as though the power is fed to the front wheels via a limited-slip differential (even though they aren’t) – and that means you can accelerate early and slingshot out of bends with surprising pace.

You’re helped in this by a nicely potent motor that delivers a big shot of grunt early on and keeps doing so right up to motorway speeds; no, it won’t match a Tesla’s acceleration, but the 5 EV will outdo pretty much any mainstream petrol- or diesel-powered family estate away from the lights.

MG 5 EV - Richard Parsons
MG 5 EV - Richard Parsons

All sounds pretty tempting, no? And what with the long warranty (seven years or 80,000 miles, whichever occurs first) and extraordinary value it offers, this is indeed a pretty compelling car.

A note of caution, however: in the last year, we’ve had a rude awakening as to the ramifications of certain unexpected geopolitical situations. In that context, and before signing on the dotted line, it might not be such a paranoid idea to contemplate what after-sales support for this Zhengzhou-built car would look like should relations with China deteriorate.

The Telegraph verdict

However, as it stands today, the 5 EV is now a very complete and well judged car.

By and large, this update has been hugely positive. It’s resolved several of the issues that previously took the MG 5 EV from a four-star rating down to three, and while it has introduced a few more niggles that prevent it from topping the class, they are vastly outweighed by the improvements.

The 5 EV is roomy, fun to drive and great value; you can now add “comfortable” and “smartly finished” to that list. MG has certainly been paying attention – and it has paid off.

Telegraph rating: Four stars out of five

The facts

On test: MG 5 EV Trophy Long Range

Body style: five-door estate

On sale: now

How much? £33,495 on the road (range from £30,995)

How fast? 115mph, 0-62mph in 7.3sec

How economical? 3.5mpkWh (WLTP Combined)

Electric powertrain: AC permanent magnet synchronous motor with 57.4kWh (usable) battery, 87kW on-board charger, Type 2/CCS charging socket

Electric range: 235 miles

Maximum power/torque: 154bhp/206lb ft

CO2 emissions: 0g/km (tailpipe), 39g/km (well-to-wheel)

VED: £0

Warranty: 7 years / 80,000 miles

Spare wheel as standard: no (optional extra)

The rivals

Citroën ë-C4 C-Series Edition

134bhp, 217 miles, £34,495 on the road

Citroën ë-C4 C-Series Edition
Citroën ë-C4 C-Series Edition

The ë-C4’s excellent value is what puts it on a par with the MG 5 EV – though you’ll have to make do with less luggage space as the Citroën is a hatchback rather than an estate. It’s more efficient and faster to charge, although the smaller battery means less range; it doesn’t feel quite as smart as the MG inside, though, and the entertainment system is similarly fiddly.

Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh Premium

134bhp, 189 miles, £33,800 on the road

Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh Premium - Jeff Gilbert
Hyundai Kona Electric 39kWh Premium - Jeff Gilbert

This really puts into context what brilliant value the MG 5 EV is. The Kona is much smaller inside, with a tiny boot and cramped rear seats by comparison; what’s more, it’s slower, it won’t go as far on a charge, yet it costs £300 more. Unless you’re really a fan of the Kona’s individualistic looks, the 5 EV is a no-brainer in this company.

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG

148bhp, 54.6mpg, £33,905 on the road

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG
Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG

It’s hard to argue against the fact that electric cars have reached parity with diesel-powered rivals when you see this particular comparison. Granted, the Octavia has four-wheel drive rather than two, but on paper these two are otherwise well matched. In the flesh the Octavia is even roomier than the MG, even more comfortable and feels even smarter inside – so it’s still a hard car to turn down.