But, MG didn’t put any on the press fleet for unknown reasons.
Although as a guess, they weren’t sure how we would react to a brand new car not launching with all the latest and greatest in active safety tech.
You know, the likes of lane keep assist, speed-sign recognition, etc.
How wrong they were.
Consequently though, I thought there might be something really bad about the MG5. Maybe the interior feels terrible? Maybe the seats are uncomfortable? Maybe it drives like a turd?
But after spending a week behind the wheel, I genuinely don’t think any fear of negative press was warranted - this thing is surprisingly fantastic in just about every way.
Perfect though? No, of course not. But the people who want to spend not much more than $20,000 AUD on a car aren’t looking for perfect, but rather ‘good enough’.
And the MG5, I’m happy to report, is not only ‘good enough’ but ‘really good.’
Let’s talk about why in today’s review!
How much does the MG5 cost?
The MG5 is cheap, at least it is in 2023 as of writing this review.
Today we are testing the top-spec MG5 Essence.
There is one caveat to this review, which is to say - if you can - stretch for the more expensive MG5 Essence. You’ll understand why when we talk about how it drives.
However, here’s what an MG MG5 will cost you:
MG MG5 VIBE - Priced at $24,990 (Driveaway)
1.5L Naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine
10" touch screen with Apple CarPlay & Android AUTO
Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB)
Rear view camera & tyre pressure monitor
4 speaker audio system & Bluetooth® connectivity
Push Button Start & synthetic leather seats
3 Steering modes (urban, normal, dynamic)
Automatic LED headlamp
MG MG5 ESSENCE - Priced at $28,990 (Driveaway)
All features of MG5 VIBE, plus:
Turbo Charged engine with 7-speed DCT
Sunroof & 360 View Camera
6 Speaker audio with 3D Sound Effect
Driver's seat electric adjustment
Steering wheel paddle shifters
What’s the interior and connectivity like of the MG5?
In one word, nice.
However, let’s get the bad out of the way.
In some places, the MG5 does feel inexpensive. The interior is filled with stylised but still hard and scratchy materials.
This isn’t great for road noise, which is one of the MG5’s biggest drawbacks. It’s not horrendous, but certainly the lack of sound deadening soft touch material is noticeable.
Thankfully, it is soft touch in the places that count - the centre armrest, the door arms and of course the steering wheel.
Speaking of, it’s a familiar steering wheel if you’ve spent any time in other MG products, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a nice leather unit, with an intuitive button layout - this can’t always be said of some other Chinese competitor brands.
What strikes me most about the interior is just how well laid out it is. Similar to the Hyundai i30 Sedan or Elantra as it’s known outside of Australia, you get a ‘driver focused’ design where everything is within good reach from the drivers seat.
Including, very impressively, the 10” infotainment display. It’s snappy, has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has far fewer bugs than we’ve experienced in previous MG’s.
Unfortunately however, air-conditioning controls are still within the infotainment display which although works okay, is never preferable to physical buttons.
Speaking of physical buttons, the array of controls under the MG5’s display is where I really saw attention to detail. And that’s because MG have used mechanical, tactile switches instead of membrane switches.
I have not seen that in cars outside of Audi’s and other high-end German automakers. It’s a more expensive process that most manufacturers leave out for cost saving measures. Clearly, I’m really impressed with that.
In terms of other tech, you do get a basic digital instrument cluster up in front of you - which has some of the most performance pages I think I have ever seen. Not a bad thing, just curious.
Getting into a good driving position is relatively easy, in-part due to the nice faux-leather seats with plenty of cushioning for underthigh support.
And even though the steering wheel does not telescope outwards, it does tilt and I was able to find a good driving position at my average 5’11” height.
Storage too is surprisingly plentiful, with Jacob noting that the interior felt oddly ‘spacious’.
And for those wondering, the MG5 has 2xUSB-A ports up front and a 12v socket, but sadly no-wireless charger - which would be pretty unexpected at this price point anyway.
Did I mention the Essence trim also gets a sunroof? It’s not huge, but it’s certainly welcome.
What about the back seats of the MG5?
You would think the very sloping ‘coupe’ style roofline would ruin the rear seats, but at 5’11” I had plenty of room behind my drivers position.
Honestly, the weirdest quirk about the back seat is that you get a single air-vent which I have never seen before.
Again, at this price point you HARDLY ever see any air-vents, but I definitely would have preferred 2 smaller ones over the 1 large one.
You also get 1xUSB-A port and storage area below that.
No center armrest sadly, which could lead to tired arms over longer journeys.
How much can fit in the boot of the MG5?
At just under 4.7m long, the MG5 is deceptively long.
Subsequently, you get 401L of boot-space which is very useable in most applications.
You can also drop the rear seats and get even more room, though its worth noting the backrest falls as one unit - so you can’t have anyone sitting in the back while trying to load a longer item.
What’s under the bonnet of the MG5?
Here’s why you will want to buy the Essence trim unless your budget is an absolute no-movement affair.
The Essence trim nets you a turbocharger on the 1.5L engine, which gives you 40% more power and 60% more torque for a 16% increase in price.
In the base Vibe trim, you get a 1.5L engine with 84kW of power (6000rpm) and 150Nm of torque (4500rpm).
It’s also paired with a CVT, so essentially the drivetrain you’d find in the MG3.
The Essence gives you that same 1.5L engine but adds a turbo, providing 119kW (5600rpm) and 250Nm (3000-4000rpm). It also swaps out the CVT for a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which by most accounts is the better transmission.
It’s also not like the Vibe get’s much better fuel economy despite its much less power and torque. It sits at 5.7 litres per 100km, whilst the Essence’s Turbo engine is rated at 5.9 litres per 100km.
Over the week of testing for the MG5 in urban and rural settings, we returned a real world rating of 7.3L/100km - which isn’t too bad.
All MG5s are front-wheel drive.
How does the MG5 drive?
I think it’s fair to say no one expected the MG5 to drive just as well as it does.
Without sounding like an MG shill, it’s terrific - keeping in mind its price.
The worst part of the driving experience is still the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Although on the move it’s fine, providing quick-enough shifts, on takeoff it can feel clumsy.
This is a common flaw to dual clutch transmissions that manufacturers like Volkswagen took years to iron out, but to their credit have mostly done so.
However, when you do get the transmission out of 1st gear, the MG5 truly shifts. It’s not going to blow your mind with its outright speed, but we timed the 0-100km sprint at just 8.52 seconds.
That’s at least 20% faster than any other new car we’ve tested under $30,000. It’s unreal.
The next biggest thing is its comfort. The ride is certainly on the softer end, but that’s exactly what you want out of a city car.
And when taking rural roads and twisties with aggressiveness arguably above what any MG5 was designed to tackle, it did a phenomenal job at not body-rolling off the road but rather keeping sporty-ish dynamics with a soft and compliant ride.
The biggest issue for daily liveability is the NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) that enters the cabin. Although wind-noise is minimal, it’s the general road noise that makes its way into the cabin.
We found though at regular volume through the Yamaha sound system, that the road noise was not too intrusive over long distances.
Is the MG5 safe?
The MG5 has not been crash safety tested in Australia.
However, it is unlikely to ever receive a 5-star ANCAP safety rating due to its lack of Active Safety Technology, including Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Speed Sign Recognition, etc.
Like most modern cars, the passive safety features of the MG5 - like 6-airbags and body crumple zones - however it is those modern active safety features that would hold it back from receiving a high score.
Some might see this as a benefit though, considering the poor calibration of some modern safety systems in some Chinese cars like the recently reviewed GWM Tank 300.
How much can the MG5 tow?
The MG5 has a 500kg towing capacity.
How much does the MG5 cost to run?
The MG5 comes with a 7-year, unlimited kilometer warranty. However, if you use your MG5 for commercial purposes (like Uber) then you will receive a 7-year, 160,000km warranty.
Servicing occurs every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
MG5 Vibe 1.5L CVT
Year 1 or 10,000km - $266 AUD
Year 2 or 20,000km - $427 AUD
Year 3 or 30,000km - $266 AUD
Year 4 or 40,000km - $581 AUD
Year 5 or 50,000km - $428 AUD
Year 6 or 60,000km - $427 AUD
Year 7 or 70,000km - $266 AUD
Total: $2661 AUD
MG5 Essence 1.5L Turbo 7-Speed
Year 1 or 10,000km - $272 AUD
Year 2 or 20,000km - $430 AUD
Year 3 or 30,000km - $272 AUD
Year 4 or 40,000km - $585 AUD
Year 5 or 50,000km - $272 AUD
Year 6 or 60,000km - $661 AUD
Year 7 or 70,000km - $272 AUD
Total: $2764 AUD
What is CarSauce’s take on the new MG5?
Keeping price in mind, the MG5 is a great entry point into a new car in Australia.
Although the 7-speed dual clutch has less than desirable off-the-mark performance, and the road noise can get relatively loud in the cabin, everything else more than makes up for these deficiencies.
In a world of everything becoming prohibitively expensive, the MG5 is a great new addition to Aussie showrooms.
With good overall driving dynamics, a nice interior space with plenty of tech and practicality to-boot (pun intended), it’s hard to fault the MG5.
So long as you don’t require the latest and greatest in active safety tech, of course.
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.