MG 5 long-term test

The MG 5 is one of the cheapest electric cars on sale, and the only electric estate, but is it any good? We're living with one to find out...

MG 5 lead image

The car MG 5 EV Exclusive Long Range Run by Kiall Garrett, senior videographer

Why it’s here To see whether an electric estate car can support the practicality needs of What Car?’s videographer while getting him around the country with relative ease

Needs to be Spacious, have enough range to travel to far-flung film shoots, and be comfortable to drive

Mileage 9592 List Price £31,995 Target Price £31,679 Price as tested £30,495 Test range 167-189 miles Official range 250 miles Dealer price now £25,780 Private price now £22,915 Running costs (excluding depreciation)  Electricity £577

4 November – Power cut

It’s 9pm on a Wednesday night at Corley services. The rain is pouring down, and I’m staring at a charging unit that's delivering very little juice into the depleted battery of my MG 5.

I run into the nearby Welcome Break Days Inn hotel, glance back at the car, and ask the person at the front desk for a room. It's by far my worst moment with this electric estate car, which I’ve been running for the past six months.

MG 5 at charging point

When I first got behind the wheel of my MG 5 back in May, I had one simple question that I wanted to answer: can you happily live with an electric car without being able to top it up at home?

At the time, I was very much an electric car novice. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that the real issue with charging is that achieving your car's maximum quoted charging speed is far from a given; it depends on a range of factors, including how powerful the unit that you're plugged into is and how many other cars are charging at the same location.

In the MG 5’s case, even its maximum speed of 80kW is low by class standards, but with a real-world range of about 190 miles I was able to cover 90% of journeys without stopping (assuming I started with a full battery).

On those occasions when I couldn't, I tended to set off early so I could stop on the way and have breakfast while I waited 40 minutes or so for the car to charge.

Working out of the MG 5 boot

This wasn't ideal, but there were aspects of the MG 5 that did suit me almost perfectly. It has a very smooth and comfortable ride, for example, while offering the kind of instant acceleration and rapid performance which make getting up to motorway speeds a breeze.

In addition, I found the space the MG 5 offered was perfect for my needs. The boot easily took all my camera bags, tripods and equipment cases, and none of my friends or family ever had any issue with the amount of space on offer in the rear seats.

But back to the start of this report, and how I ended up in a hotel at Corley services. Well, it was on a journey to Anglesey in Wales, part way through a 310-mile round trip that I encountered an issue.

I got to Rugby services to charge the car and have some dinner. Impressively, the service station had a total of 15 chargers. However, despite me trying every one that was available, I wasn't able to get any electricity.

MG 5 at Shell Recharge

I decided to push on and give another service station a try. And that's how I ended up in Corley, where there were seven more CCS rapid chargers, none of which the car wanted to accept electricity from. Clearly something was very wrong.

The one bit of good news was that I could still use the MG 5's type 2 charging port, but that meant a slow 7kW charge and a nine-hour wait.

Sadly, my problems didn’t disappear overnight, so much of the next day was spent trying to get someone out to fix the car, at which point it became clear that even the AA recovery service wasn’t able to help, because of the CCS charging port's high voltage.

Instead, I ended up having to take the car to an MG dealer in Wales and go home in a diesel rental car. And two weeks later, my MG 5 is still at the garage; they've not been able to fix it or even tell me what the fault is.

MG 5 on MG Pilot

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about the MG 5. It is staggeringly well priced and a really comfortable car. If you are a low-mileage driver after an electric vehicle that is big on space and comfort, then it's worth considering.

If, however, you are a high-mileage driver with no charger at home, then I fear a stress-free electric future, either with an MG 5 or any other battery-powered car, is still some way off.

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