Andrew Brady | June 2014
Put aside images of tweed, country pubs and chrome-laced convertibles. Say hello to MGs of the future – and they’re electric.
The MG EV Concept is, well, a concept. There are just three in existence, and we bagged a brief drive of one at MG’s 90th birthday celebrations at Silverstone.
The company says it’s testing the public’s reaction to the MG EV Concept, but if it’s positive, it won’t take a lot to put into production. It’s already being sold in China as a Roewe E50, so won’t take a lot to rebadge it as an MG and tweak it for the UK market.
What’s the 2014 MG EV Concept like to drive?
The MG EV Concept is surprisingly good to drive. While the current crop of MGs may be lacking in many areas (including safety), the firm prides itself on making cars that are enjoyable to drive. And we can’t deny that the MG EV Concept certainly ticks that box.
We drove it on Silverstone’s Stowe circuit and were told not to push it due to the prototype tyres fitted. Driving it like most would in urban areas, first impressions are positive. It handles nicely, its skinny blueprint tyres providing adequate levels of grip and giving plenty of feedback when you start to ask a little too much.
In typical electric car fashion, it’s sprightly at town speeds, hitting 30mph in 5.3 seconds. 60mph takes a little longer, but it does get there, in 14.6 seconds. It’s quiet, too – of course, there’s no conventional combustion engine, but that provides more of a challenge for engineers to keep NVH levels to a minimum.
Unlike the BMW i3, the regenerative braking is barely noticeable. Lift off the accelerator, and it doesn’t slow down any more than a conventionally-powered car.
From what we could tell from driving it on a smooth track, it seems to ride particularly well. Better than a BMW i3, we reckon.
How does the MG EV concept compare to other city cars?
In fact, the 2014 MG EV Concept very much feels like a kind of Fisher Price BMW i3. It takes a similar shape to that of the i3 – and the cabin feels much more futuristic than that of the Nissan LEAF or Volkswagen e-Up!.
The interior does seem a little bit on the cheap side, however it will seat four people in relative comfort. Rear-seat passengers may find the seating position a bit peculiar as the under floor battery means the rear seats are raised, but there’s plenty of room.
The same can’t be said about the boot, which is tiny, but in a budget electric city car, you’re unlikely to be carrying four passengers and loads of luggage.
Drivers of MG’s electric car will be able to charge it using a standard 240V charge over six hours, and expect a realistic range of 70 miles in summer, dropping down to 50 miles in winter.
Alternatively, a rapid half-hour 400V charge will boost power from 15% to 80%.
MR VERDICT: 2014 MG EV Concept
The price is likely to make or break the 2014 MG EV Concept if it ever goes on sale. Even with the £5,000 government grant for electric cars, none are particularly cheap. The Nissan LEAF starts at £16,490, while the BMW i3 will set you back at least £30,680. And, unless you buy something like the BMW i3 Range Extender (which uses a motorbike engine to boost range to 186 miles), you’re probably only going to use the electric car as a second vehicle for driving around town.
While MG won’t name figures, it is looking like the pricing could be very competitive. MG’s engineering director Alan Anderson told us it would “be cheaper than its rivals”. If MG can introduce a futuristic electric car such as this for less than £15,000, it could be on to a winner.
- Renault Zoe
- Volkswagen e-Up
- BMW i3
- Nissan LEAF
- Volkswagen e-Golf
The MG EV Concept feels very much like a bargain basement BMW i3, so hopefully it’ll be half the price. The Renault Zoe is likely to be its closest rival, and offers a similar range to the MG. The LEAF is one of the most popular EVs, and offers a great deal of practicality, but at the same time its larger than most of the compact, urban electric cars. For those wanting a solid little hatch, that offers the benefits of an electric car without shouting about it, the Volkswagen e-Up is ideal. For those with similar requirements but more practicality, there’s also the Volkswagen e-Golf.
Engine Front mounted motor, under floor lithium ion battery
Price from n/a
0-62mph 14.6 seconds
Top speed 81mph
EV range Around 50 miles in winter, to 70 miles in summer