MG 5 EV could well become the mainstream electric car of choice for drivers in Singapore
A new electric car has arrived in Singapore, and at a very reasonable price too. It was only a year ago that the idea of buying a ‘cheap’ electric car was something of a gamble. Remember the BYD M3e?
Well forget about that, because now for just under S$130k with COE, you can get behind the wheel of an MG 5 EV, a properly robust and well-specified family car. We’re slightly confused by the body style however. Is it an estate, or crossover SUV? No matter, as genre pigeonholing aside, this is a vehicle that’s actually quite good in what it promises to do.
MG is no longer the British sports car brand that it once was, and these days is Chinese-owned and built, but designed to be Euro-friendly in style and specification. We reviewed both the MG HS crossover SUV and MG ZS electric vehicle in 2020, and were pleasantly surprised by how good the cars were.
The MG 5 EV looks to be more of the same, with a faintly Volkswagen-esque design slant, but first, you’ll have to adapt to its idiosyncrasies.
The cabin is quite spacious, and very well fitted together. It’s almost Germanic in feel and texture, with great sound insulation. There’s even a full suite of LED lights at the front and rear. What’s bewildering is that the touchscreen and control surfaces have buttons in different places from where you would expect them to be.
The starter button is tucked away on the right side of the console behind the steering column, rather than the usual place in other cars nearer to the centre of the dashboard.
The MG 5 EV’s touchscreen is also slightly laggy, and the lack of a distinct ‘home’ button makes going back to the main menu a bit of a mystery until you figure out how to toggle through the menus.
We were searching for the air conditioning controls in the touchscreen options until we realised that they were linked to the two chrome dials on the centre console. We thought carmakers had largely abandoned rotatable dials for climate controls, but here, they’re convenient and so simple to use.
It’s important to note that this front-wheel drive car with a 495-litre luggage capacity was not designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle. It’s essentially a traditional automobile platform with the internal combustion engine replaced by an electric motor and petrol tank replaced with battery packs.
The batteries are laid out flat under the passenger compartment, in a big reinforced slab under the car. The ‘engine’ compartment is completely covered with a huge, clipped-down plastic cover. You can undo the plastic clips with a screwdriver, and there’s actually a lot of space in here as the electric motor package is much more compact than a petrol four-cylinder engine.
As is usual with electric drives, there’s no multi-speed transmission, just a single forward drive gear.
The specifications claim a 0 to 100km/h time of 8.8 seconds, but it feels much, much faster. A flat eight seconds would probably be closer base on our estimates. The electric motor’s torque allows for plenty of zingy, quick overtakes, plus the car is dynamically more entertaining than you might expect. It costs a lot more than a Kia Cerato, but is a lot more fun to drive too.
Reasonably sized wheels means that there is enough tyre sidewall for good rolling comfort in the car, and the suspension tuning is well-judged for good handling ability.
The specifications claim a power efficiency of 17.5kWh/100km, but after 150km of driving we had the car at 14.5kWh/100km. Very impressive indeed. A full battery’s driving range is quoted at 403km on the WLTP cycle, but in Singapore you can realistically expect to cover around 350km safely. Drive with a light right foot the whole way and a 390km range is actually within reach.
The way we look at it, it’s a car that is very similar in spirit to the Skoda Octavia Combi, which sports a mild hybrid drivetrain and costs nearly S$20k more. It even undercuts the Subaru Outback by around S$40k. The MG 5 EV doesn’t feel cheaply built either. It has a solidly constructed vibe from inside the cabin, and has a driving confidence that feels like it was lifted from a continental car.
There’s two variants of the MG 5 EV on sale in Singapore. The one driven here is the longer ranged MG 5 EV Exclusive, while the MG 5 EV Excite is the base model which is S$6,000 cheaper. It gets a smaller battery with less range, and also does away with active safety features along with the all-important electronic stability control program, and adaptive cruise control. For what it’s worth, the little bit extra is well worth paying for to get the Exclusive variant.
The car is a very logical step up from drivers of a car like a previous-gen Toyota Camry, as long as you have figured out a good routine to charge up the car. The SP Group’s 50kW DC fast chargers will take the car from 0 to 80 percent in 40 minutes, so it’s a matter of deciding if you’re really ready for an electric car now, and whether it can fit into your lifestyle without disruptions.
MG 5 EV Exclusive
|Electric Motor||154hp, 280Nm|
|Battery||Lithium ion, 61.1kWh net|
|Charge Type / Time||7kW AC wallbox / 8 hours|
|Max Fast Charge Type / Time||50kW DC / 40 mins to 80 percent|
|Electric Range||403km WLTP|
|VES Band||A1/ -S$25,000|
|Price||S$129,888 with COE and VES|
|Verdict||One of the best value EVs you can buy now, and it’s dynamically very impressive too|