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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

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 Volkswagen e-up and Nissan’s Nissan 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.

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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

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kowalski99 25 June 2014

calm down everyone

For those that mock the badge, they just filled Silverstone over the last weekend for the MG 90 event. Many people, not everyone has a fondness for MG. They have always been cars cobbled together on a budget that are generally good to drive (although not always). And before you go on about the MG metro, all manufacturers produce duff cars BMW x6 or 5 series hatch anyone?

And the top spec MG 6 and MG 3 are not bad cars- and far more interesting than a Dacia or a run of the mill bogo basic silver Focus/Golf that everyone else has.

Before you ask, I drive an r32 golf so id like to state my impartiality here.

John O'Groats 24 June 2014

This could be MG's greatest product

...this could be MG's greatest product..hmm, given the dire range of dross currently produced under the MG badge, that would not exactly leave SAIC Motor shittin in high cotton.
PRODIGY 24 June 2014

If you don't like MG, why read the article and then comment ?

Winston Churchill, you're the only one who's wasted your own time by clicking on an article you had no interest in. There are some, like me, who are interested in Autocars impressions of this car.

I saw this on Saturday as I was at the same event. It probably won't make it over here for a while, if at all; but it shows that MG are serious about looking into this segment. Another car revealed at the event was the MG3 trophy racer with a 200bhp+ 1.5 turbo.

Love the fact that the MG haters come out in force. If they don't move forward then they're criticised, if they do then they are also criticised.