In a very short space of time, MG has moved from being a classic British manufacturer of niche convertible sports cars dating back to the 1920s, to a contemporary marque catering for budget-conscious, first-time car buyers and young families, to now being an indicator of future styling with the edgy Marvel R.
Being part of the new genre of MG, owned by SAIC, it’s fully electric and, like The National’s test car did, likely to turn heads at every intersection with its distinctive lines.
Power for the Comfort and Luxury-spec models comes from two electric motors, both at the rear. It takes a different approach, in that one motor is bigger than the other so when you drive at a constant speed, only the larger electric motor is enabled. However, when accelerating, the smaller one chips in to help as a booster and both are powered by the same 70kWh battery.
When combined, the MG Marvel R delivers 178bhp and 410Nm of torque driving through the rear wheels and returns 402km of range. Performance is at the lower end of the EV scale with 7.9 seconds to 100kph and a 200kph top speed, but like all EVs, there is zero delay in getting that power to the road, so it feels faster than the numbers suggest.
The upside of having motors in the rear is the traction; while the downside is that you lose boot space compared to most competitors, which have motors in the front axle. That gives them about 500 litres of space, whereas the Marvel R’s boot space is 357 litres. This is still good enough for shopping, but not as cavernous as the Renault Megane or VW ID4. In fairness, though, once you drop the seats, the MG’s luggage space expands to a very welcome 1,396 litres.
There is another option with the Performance model that adds a third motor located in the front axle, making it a permanent all-wheel drive, which delivers 284bhp and a meaty 665Nm of torque.
The Performance Marvel R gets to 100kph in 4.9 seconds with the same top speed, but the trade-off is that range dips to 370km. The battery has an 11kW 3-phase charger for AC charging and is geared up for fast charging, which allegedly gets you from five to 80 per cent in 43 minutes.
Its interior is just as futuristic as its exterior with a large 19.4-inch portrait-style touchscreen that has all the usual Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It also has MG’s new iSmart connectivity system, which allows you to control various things remotely and enables a host of over-the-air updates.
MG has entered an agreement with Google for mapping to access real-time traffic information and, in time, it will also help you search for parking spaces, get the weather forecast and stream music. Voice commands let you operate other functions such as changing the air-conditioning temperature or opening the sunroof.
Vehicle-to-load system (V2L) is another great innovation for EVs. This allows you to charge other electrical items from the car, adding a new world of possibilities to camping. The Marvel R is trialling this, so it will be able to power external lights, air pumps, computers, phones and even e-scooters. MG says it should also give a quick emergency charge to other battery-powered electric vehicles similar to a jump-start on conventional cars.
Driving is as easy and as silent as you’d expect. Regeneration through the brake pedal is not as extreme as others and it’s a long way from being a one-pedal operation like the Nissan Leaf; however, it does offer three levels of regen from almost nil to reasonable. Hyundai’s Kona is still one of the only EVs that will actually stop the car with maximum regen, topping up the battery and effectively taking over the job of braking the car in most situations.
Hopefully, the Marvel R will get the tick of approval for the UAE and be on sale here early this year as it provides a much-needed electric offering for those looking to go EV on a budget, as well as throwing in cutting-edge technology and futuristic styling as well.