MG5 1.5 Auto

9 Jan, 2013 4:45pm Mark Andrews

We get behind the wheel of the all-new Focus-rivalling MG5 ahead of its UK launch later this year

Verdict

3
MG has got a while to go before it introduces the 5 to the UK, and we could certainly suggest a few areas the brand should work on. The new dual-clutch gearbox is a good start, but a tweak to the handling and the introduction of a diesel option would do wonders for British sales. The interior can stay pretty much as it is, and if the price is right you could start seeing a lot more MGs on the road.

The rebirth of MG in the UK has been a little slow, but things are about to start picking up with the MG3 supermini and Ford Focus-rivalling MG5 due to go on sale in the next 12 months.

We’re expecting to see the MG3 in the coming weeks, with the MG5 we’re driving here arriving in UK spec towards the end of the year. And if you’re thinking you’ve seen this model before, you’d be right, because it originally debuted in concept form at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2011.

The transition from concept to production hasn’t exactly been straightforward, and while the front stays mostly true to the original, the rear is bordering on ugly. Although the car was styled in Britain, it’s not a design we can be especially proud of; the MG5 always appears to be riding high on its haunches.

Still, the interior is well put together, with a definite step up in quality from the MG6. Although it’s not comparable with the latest Ford Focus, it’s at least as well put together as the previous-generation car.

The dashboard – available in black and tan or all-black finishes – features a couple of slightly hard-feeling plastics, but everything is simply laid out and focused around the driver.

Sitting proud in the centre of the dash is MG’s inkaNet touchscreen display, which runs an Android-based system and gives drivers access to the Web and other downloadable services through a SIM card and 3G data connection. The screen also displays the usual entertainment information and, on our range-topping model, it displays the image from the reversing camera, as well as the sat-nav maps.

Interestingly, there is no CD player, so drivers can play music only through the radio, an SD card or a USB connection. But you get a system called iVoka, which allows you to use voice commands to control various entertainment functions.

Unfortunately, the car’s hi-tech feel is countered by our model’s disappointing powertrain. The 105bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine is hooked up to a low-tech four-speed automatic gearbox which severely restrains performance. The five-speed manual seems like a far better option, with our auto model taking 12.8 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

The good news for UK buyers, though, is that when the car goes on sale it’s expected to feature a newly developed dual-clutch box. We’re anticipating a diesel and a 135bhp turbo version of this engine, too. Meanwhile, the impressive suspension easily soaks up bumpy roads, but the steering feels a little artificial and overly light. We’re hoping some of these issues will be sorted before the car goes on sale in the UK, too.

If they are, the MG5 could make an interesting alternative to the Focus and VW Golf. After all, the cabin is spacious enough to seat four adults and the 327-litre boot is only a little down on the 380 litres of the Golf. With a price that’s expected to significantly undercut the VW, there’s plenty of promise in this package.

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I have no doubt that the UK design team will sort the handling. Just gotta hope they can get the turbo engine in place with a manual gearbox before launch.

Still, a nice looking car in my opinion.

Oh look, a Proton Satria Neo. Probably sell 3 a month.

Manuals, auto's and Diesels as well as petrols will be available at launch, MG have learned a lot from the launch of the 6 and the 3 ad 5 will have better availability of models from the start

Is this the "sensational" new MG Rover that AE said was "imminent" in 2004? I can still remember the, ahem, "Forget the Focus" headline! Why did it take another 9 years to come up with such a dud?

Comparable to the old focus dashboard? Not even with the first gen focus. This is almost like a 90's hyundai or something...

Only 135 hp from a 1.5L turbo engine??

Ah, I see, you've clearly seen the MG5 dash in the flesh.... What it actually looks like is any Hyundai or Kia dash from 2013 - and we all know how well Kia/Hyundai sell in the UK now don't we?

Will sell quite quickly? Proton? Your clearly a little silly. Hope this will become a strong seller, with good engines and high build quality (the last focus was very good indeed) then MG-SAIC are onto a winner if priced around 12-13K onwards.

Why do road testers presume every normal day to day driver wants a drag racer? I drive a 44tonne truck for a living so a 1.5 litre 4 speed auto box would seem like heaven after a 15 hour shift in a 16 speed manual truck, even if it did take 12 secs to 62mph.

oh dear that rear window line is directly copied from the mark 1 toyota auris

you would literally have to be dating your sister to buy THAT over a focus... ugly and well behind the competition

MG should concentrate on 'developing countries', India, China, Brazil - it will surely cost more to sell in the UK than they will make

Or the 1970 Morris Marina... So perhaps MG is simply taking inspiration from one of it's own family models from the past.

Key specs

  • Price: From £14,000 (est)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl
  • Power: 105bhp
  • Transmission: Four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 105mph
  • Economy: 48mpg (est)
  • CO2: 140g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Sat-nav, reversing camera, inkaNet touchscreen, iVoka voice-control system
  • On sale: Late 2013
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