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MG’s brave foray into EV territory will be great if the price is right, as it’s a very accomplished vehicle

Our Verdict

MG 3
The MG 3 is a sharply styled supermini

MG Motor’s first supermini has price on its side, but what else?

  • First Drive

    MG EV concept UK first drive review

    MG’s brave foray into EV territory will be great if the price is right, as it’s a very accomplished vehicle
  • First Drive

    MG 3 UK first drive review

    Sharper and better mannered than you’d expect, and neatly styled. Noisy, dated engine lets it down, but it's good value for money
24 June 2014

What is it?

A concept version of MG’s planned electric vehicle. It’s part of the firm’s continued revival under Chinese SAIC Motor ownership, and is based on that company’s Roewe E50, a car which is already on sale in China.

MG is being coy about a launch schedule and price for this EV concept, but allowed us to drive an example around the Silverstone circuit.

MG’s UK designers have taken their pens to the Roewe’s body to up its appeal to a European market and the net result is tidy. It’s a good-looking EV outside, the neat detailing particularly good at the rear.

Inside is fine too, albeit nothing like as premium as, say, the BMW i3’s cabin. There is plenty of space for four six-foot tall adults; a nice central touchscreen controls the infotainment; and some light panels in the door cards ensure the interior feels airy.

However, even allowing for batteries underneath, the floor feels unnaturally high and while there’s plenty of knee- and shoulder-room in the back, a passenger’s legs have to be at an odd angle due to the relative height of their feet. Also, the boot is ridiculously small and has a very high loading lip, making it next to useless.

What's it like?

The MG team on hand for our drive at Silverstone made it clear the car’s suspension settings and combination of 15-inch wheels and economy-orientated tyres were not signed off and would not necessarily make it to production. But the great news for MG fans is that, even in a non-finished state, the EV concept is an accomplished city car already.

The ride, for instance, is excellent. The surface we tested the car on was pretty uneven, but the MG soaked it up with little complaint and plenty of aplomb. It also felt good in the corners, resisting roll well and possessing plenty of grip, with well-weighted steering that offered more feel than expected. The EV concept’s kerb weight of slightly more than a tonne probably helps here.

As with all EVs, maximum torque is available instantly and the modest 0-62mph time is probably less relevant than the car’s 0-31mph time, which is an impressive 5.3 seconds. The MG concept certainly feels quick enough for zipping about congested UK conurbations, although the regenerative braking effect is minimal when lifting off the throttle.

MG claims a range of between 50 and 71 miles. If this doesn’t sound a lot, it’s because the manufacturer says this is a ‘realistic’ range for someone who is driving the car with lights, wipers, the heater and radio on in winter months, draining the battery quicker. It’s also more than adequate for most UK commuting needs.

Should I buy one?

The key to the MG EV concept’s success will be time to market and also how much the British marque will charge for it. MG’s bigwigs won’t confirm when the car will go on sale, chiefly because they’re awaiting European consensus on a universal charging socket design, although it seems very near production-ready otherwise. Given that the development costs for the Roewe should already have been swallowed, anything in the £10-12,000 ballpark would make this a genuine marvel.

Its main rivals would be Volkswagen’s e-Up and Nissan’s Leaf, priced at £19,270 and £16,490 respectively. The MG would need to be considerably cheaper than both, but that’s not because it’s a bad machine – it’s pleasant to drive and attractive inside and out. We sincerely hope it goes on sale soon and that the cost of owning one isn’t too high; if it isn’t, this could be MG’s greatest product.

MG EV concept

Price TBC 0-62mph 14.6 seconds Top speed 81mph Economy 50-71 miles CO2 0g/km Kerbweight 1080kg Engine Permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM), electric Installation Front-mounted motor, front-wheel drive Power 70bhp at 8000rpm Torque 114lb ft Gearbox CVT

Join the debate

Comments
17

A34

24 June 2014

"Also, the boot is ridiculously small and has a very high loading lip, making it next to useless." - was that the front or back boot? Most electric cars have storage space under the bonnet too...

Meanwhile good luck to MG in persuading their Chinese overlords about productising this for a low retail price. I don't share Autocar's optimism that this would be a cheap car (unless they've done some calculations from the Chinese price) as most of the cost is in the batteries...

24 June 2014

I do like this MG, just wish they'd look at the Smart packing and follow that. A modern small petrol engine like the original Smart's 700cc unit in the boot in a lightweight car would be more than enough and would bring prices down (and probably undercut some of the rivals in the city car class) and they could even call it the MG1. Also, at £12k the MG isn't going to be as good to sit in as a £30k BMW so why the need to compare this to the i3?

24 June 2014

"MG's brave foray into EV territory" ... Perhaps MG should concentrate on making a "brave foray" into mainstream car territory first ... Neither the MG6 or MG3 have made any significant impact in the market because, design aside, they've been released with old technology into a market packed with the new (even Dacia cars use modern engines!) ... Maybe, as C2_Matt suggests, if their EV taster had been engineered to take on the likes of city cars like the VAG and PSA triumvirates, the forthcoming Smart ForTwo/Renault Twingo and the i10, MG would've had a winner ...

24 June 2014

I resume the projected £10-12k price includes the £5000 grant, otherwise this would be a ridiculous bargain. I can certainly see a small market for this car which looks to be quite a useful urban runabout at a price that could be justified. It also works well as an "MG", in that this is a specialist and rather interesting product outside of the mainstream. A bit like earlier MGs were in fact.

289

24 June 2014

I really think it is time for MG to 'call it a day' in Europe.
Two years and they have completely failed to make a mark on the UK market for example....its just not going to happen for them...Qoros has a far better chance than them despite not having a once famous British name.

24 June 2014

So the high floor giving the odd seating position and potentially extremely uncomfortable journey makes for a 4 star review now? Seems like MG has taken the trouble to tune the car's dynamics so journalists like it but passengers don't fit properly. No thanks!


24 June 2014

As per most of the domestic Chinese vehicles (regardless of being 'tweaked' for Europe) it does look like the designers have just ripped off other vehicles.

front bumper has a very similar look to the Cee'd GT, with a Nissan Leaf plug cover. The car itself , a Mitsubishi Colt.

At least the back end is 'different'

Dash looks alright though. Get that in the MG3. Just read about the update to the diesel 6, good car, rubbish interior. At least it looks like they are moving in the right direction.

24 June 2014

and go for a complete rebrand. It's got to appeal to the masses rather than the Steven Taylors of the world. This is where they could geuninely get a foothold if it genuinely is cheap and they can make the numbers work for them. Ditch the crap they are making now. For such low numbers they may as well turn to alternative technolgy at a value price makes more sense.

24 June 2014

Sorry, what continued revival?

24 June 2014

The interior and exterior styling looks well resolved and nicely detailed, and unlike other posters above, I don't think it's a rip off of other car designs. In fact, I think MG may be shooting themselves in the foot a little here by making this an electric car. Drop a small economical petrol engine under the bonnet and sell it from less than £10k - providing the quality is acceptable, I can see a market for it.

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