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Car reviews - MG - MG5


We like
Great looking car, plenty of standard equipment, long warranty, zesty turbo engine in top-spec, great ride comfort, spacious second-row seats
Room for improvement
Minimal active safety technology, engine and dual-clutch auto aren’t great at low speeds, short service intervals

Australia’s cheapest sedan - or should that be ‘best value’?

1 Sep 2023

THE all-new MG 5 compact sedan is a big deal, in a few different ways.


It’s big on value, with a sub-$25,000 drive-away price tag for the entry-level model. It’s fairly big in terms of its physical size, at nearly 4.7 metres long, and that means it’s big in the back seat, with ample space for adults. And it’s making a big statement by offering the bare minimum in terms of active safety technology for a new model launching at this point in time.


Scant likely competitors include: Hyundai i30 base hatch at $24,000, base i30 sedan at $26,000 and Kia Cerato 2.0 S hatch and sedan at $26,290, all excluding on road costs or you could drop a segment to the light car class.


MG makes no bones about the fact that it wants to offer affordable cars to people who are on a budget, and if you’re the sort of person who thinks ‘but at what cost?’, then you’re not alone. For some, the lack of a suite of active safety tech like lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring / rear cross-traffic alert will be a deal breaker. For others, it will be a welcome deletion of those potentially distracting (and, if badly calibrated, possibly dastardly) safety nannies.


Whatever your take on the situation, this car offers a lot for very little money, considering the inflated state of the market.


The entry-level Vibe grade is $24,990 drive-away, with a host of standard equipment on offer such as 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, keyless entry and push-button start, fake leather interior trim, a 10.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, a digital instrument cluster and a reversing camera with rear parking sensors. It comes fitted with a 1.5-litre aspirated four-cylinder with a modest 84kW and 150Nm, teamed to a CVT automatic transmission and sending drive to the front wheels.


The top-spec Essence ($28,990 drive-away) tested here enlists a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, for a huge power bump over the base car (119kW and 250Nm). It only uses 0.2L/100km more than the entry car, but adds a bunch of extra gear for the $4000 increase, including 17-inch alloys, driver’s electric seat adjustment, a sunroof, leather steering wheel with paddle-shifters, and a surround-view camera with 360-degree view.


The interior of both models is almost identical, aside from the steering wheel (plastic in the base model, leather with paddles in the top-spec) and the seat adjustment options for the driver. And in either instance, it feels as though you’re getting into a pretty nicely finished and high-tech space, but a practical one with USB ports (2x front, 1x rear), eye-catching material finishes including patterned plastics and red-stitched seats with very fake leather trim, and – oddly – just one directional air-vent in the back seat.


Space is very good, with enough room for an above-average-height male to sit behind their own driving position, and the requisite child-seat securing options on offer as well (2x ISOFIX and 3x top-tether). There’s a 401-litre boot capacity, with a single-piece fold-down backrest for stowing longer items.


The MG 5 is backed by a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan for private buyers (or seven years/160,000km for commercial users), with roadside assistance included for the same period provided the car is serviced at an authorised MG dealership. Servicing is due every 12 months or 10,000km, and the costs are reasonable ($395 on average for the Essence).


Fuel consumption is officially listed at 5.7L/100km for the Vibe and 5.9L/100km for the Essence.


Driving impressions

There are some surprising elements to the drive experience of the MG 5, both good and bad.

The good first and we find the 5’s ride is well sorted, with the suspension able to dispose of pockmarks, lumps and bumps with ease. Over some treacherous back streets around Orange in the NSW Central West, the MG 5 was very well sorted.


The steering offers a nice feel and weighting to it, too, and you can adjust the resistance if you wish by way of a three-mode controller in the media screen, with Urban, Normal and Dynamic available. I found Normal to be a lovely consistency and still parking-friendly in its weighting.


The overall handling of the car is also good – it feels well balanced and, apart from a bit of wiggle from the torsion-beam rear-end over mid-corner bumps, it changes direction nicely and is poised and controlled in twisty conditions.


The Essence’s turbo-petrol engine is good at higher speeds, and has ample grunt when the car is moving, it’s just when taking off from a standstill that the engine and dual-clutch transmission hamper progress to a surprising extent.


There’s significant lag from the gearbox when moving away from a halt, and as the clutches actuate and the engine exhibits turbo lag, it can be a matter of moments before things happen. It’s enough to make you second-guess whether you will make the gap in traffic.


There is a sport mode for the transmission, and paddle-shifters to take matters into your own hands, but the lag is still an issue. So for urban drivers who spend a lot of time in traffic, at intersections or starting and stopping constantly, it could be frustrating. However, for those who jump in the car in the morning and drive an hour without really stopping until they park the car, it could be perfectly fine.

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