Last year, as you have no doubt guessed, was a shocker for the car industry. Sales in the first lockdown were virtually non existent – and for the rest of the year dealerships struggled.

Unless, that is, they had an MG sign out front.

In 2019, MG was the fastest growing car brand registering 13,000 sales. And in 2020 it had beat that figure by September.

Why this spectacular performance?

It’s simple really: MG makes cars that are very affordable, good value and crucially, many of them are electric. Like the ZS crossover which undercuts almost all EV rivals on price.

They’re what we motoring hacks like to call ‘honest’ cars.

MG makes cars that are very affordable

And now we have the latest MG model on test. It’s called simply the MG 5 SW and it has the distinction of being the only pure electric estate on sale today.

Its positives well outweigh the negatives – and price is a big positive here.

To keep costs down it’s sensible to keep your range of cars simple – and MG has done that with the 5 SW.

There are only two trim levels; the entry-level Excite which is £24,495 (including PICG) and the Exclusive at £26,995.

Not only do these prices undercut most rivals, they’re lower than those for MG’s own ZS.

It's a very 'honest' car

This MG is no beauty – a bit like a Kia or Hyundai from a few years back. But so what? It’s hardly ugly and you’ve got to remember that price.

It’s a similar story inside as there is a fair bit of hard plastic about the place. But I could live with that because of the simplicity and ease of use of the controls.

We’re testing the dearer Exclusive which comes with leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, sat nav, roof rails and automatic wipers.

I’d save two and a half grand and stick with the entry level car. Not least because the satnav isn’t brilliant and since both trim levels come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto you can use your phone for navigating.

Roof rails aren’t a good idea on an EV anyway, they add drag.

This MG is no beauty - but it's hardly ugly
Both trim levels come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto

Which brings us neatly onto range. The MG 5 SW is fitted with a 154bhp electric motor that’s powered by a 52.5kWh battery of which 49kWh is usable.

Again, the MG thrashes its nearest price rivals including the ZS. The claimed WLTP range is an impressive 214 miles.

You can charge the MG using a rapid charger via a CCS-style connector at a maximum rate of 50kWh – which means you can take the battery from zero to 80% in 50 minutes. In theory.

I’m sure EV drivers will know it’s not always possible to achieve ‘book figures’ for recharging.

I used a rapid charger on this and in half an hour had only added about 20kW.

You can use your phone for navigating
The luggage bay holds 464 litres with the seats up - which is only average

Although the 5 SW is made in China – like all MGs – the UK engineering centre has an input so the cars are set up for our roads.

So this is a car that is comfortable over bumps and impressively quiet.

Although it’s an estate, the MG5 SW isn’t a big one. The luggage bay holds 464 litres with the seats up which is only average. And surely fitting a few luggage restraints or tie downs wouldn’t have cost a packet? It’s easy to find fault with this MG.

The styling is nowhere near as cool as the new Vauxhall Mokka’s or the Peugeot e-2008, but as we said at the outset it all comes down to cost – and with the MG being many thousands cheaper than the Peugeot it’s a big saving.

MG knows its market and the MG5 SW hits the spot perfectly.

It’s quiet, has a good range, is comfortable over bumps and gives a traditional estate car choice that’s currently unique in the electric vehicle world.

If MG keeps making cars this good when it comes to value, the success story will continue.

THE FACTS

MG 5 SW Exclusive five-door estate

Price: £26,995

Engine: Single motor, 52.5kWh battery, 154bhp

0-62 mph: 7.7 sec

Range: 214 miles

THE RIVALS

Peugeot e-2008 Active Premium

The Peugeot e-2008 is a cool £33,680

A great looker but can’t match the MG on price.

Hyundai Ioniq Premium

The Hyundai Ioniq Premium is just £30,950

Been around a while now but has a decent range. Considerably slower than the MG.

Citroen e-C4 Shine

The Citroen e-C4 is but £30,130

It’s new and it’s stylish. Equals the MG on range and not massively more expensive.