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.