MG Comet review: Revolution baby

    It’s compact and comfy, and is also an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.

    Published on Mar 23, 2023 08:00:00 AM

    66,815 Views

    Make : MG
    Model : Comet

    Egypt. Land of Pharaohs, land of antiquity. A place where the past and the present sit comfortably together side by side. And this is also true of its cars. Motoring happily alongside a bedraggled Mercedes W123 from the late ‘70s is a car that all but makes me jump out of my skin – it’s the soon-to-be-launched baby MG EV that was recently christened the Comet! One of a whole bunch of EVs imported to drive delegates of the COP 27 climate summit around, but without adding too much to their carbon footprint, it is a car that has me riveted. And what I particularly love is that it is cheeky, bold and off-the-future. 

    A quick chat at the next set of traffic lights with the driver has me all excited and changing my flight plans. This is an opportunity too good to miss. The next day is consumed with making arrangements for our photographer,  cameraperson and shoot locations. The plan isn’t exactly straightforward, and pulling this off will take some doing, but all the effort should be well worth it. The pyramids and sphinx will have to wait. 

    MG Comet: exterior design, battery, powetrain

    Years ago, Nissan’s head of design Shiro Nakamura said something about EVs that just stuck. “Future EVs will still be cars, not featureless pods. Beautifully styled, full of attractive details, and good design would still play a massive role in their success,” he’d said to me.

    Walking up to the MG Comet, I can’t help but think how right he was. Far from being devoid of character, this little charmer is fresh, bold, attractive and non-conventional, all at the same time. Its positioning is unique; more a lifestyle EV rather than a low-cost electric hatch, it is a car that takes the humble hatchback and elevates it to an all-new level.

    The nose, with its mini shelf-like bonnet, is my first port of call. It breaks up the monotony of what basically is a monovolume design. The strip of piano-black chrome and LED that runs around both the front and the rear lends an air of sophistication and the low-placed headlights – with chrome bracketing – make it look more upmarket.

    It rides on tiny 12-inch wheels

    The most impressive bit, however, is the ‘pillarless look’ provided by the flush-mounted front windscreen, front quarter glass, side window and fixed ‘dropped’ rear window. And it’s rad; pound for pound, this car has more attitude than anything else. It is small. Just 2.9 metres long and 1.5 metres wide, and it comes riding on tiny 12-inch wheels and narrow 145mm tyres.

    A full charge takes 8-9 hours, there's no DC charging.

    The kerb weight, despite the 17.3kWh battery, is just 815kg. And what’s interesting is that the motor sends only 40.7hp to the rear wheels and it gets disc brakes on all four wheels. Claimed range with the battery fully topped up, is between 200 and 250km, sufficient for a city runabout, and charging from 0-100 percent takes 8.5 hours. There’s no facility for DC charging though so that’s a miss.

    MG Comet: interior, space, features

    My first reaction as I open the big door is “wow”! There are several reasons for this. To begin with, there is nothing low-cost or basic here. No proliferation of cheap plastic, no crude bits and the cabin doesn’t feel like it’s been specified by a cost accountant.

    Steering wheel has quality buttons.

    Bright, open and full of high-quality bits that wouldn’t look out of place even on MG’s Hector; the colour palette and details are both visually appealing and extremely classy. In fact, look at the superbly crafted steering wheel; it even looks like it has a pair of Apple iPod-like click wheels – remember those?

    Gear selector knob beautifully built, hard to see in sunlight.

    What catches my eye next are the twin 10.25-inch screens, placed in the same plane, just like Merc does, and there’s what looks like a solid billet of aluminium with neat-looking rotary air-conditioning controls. Also love the knurled chrome finish on the rotary gear selector, placed in its own little pod, and the fact that even the door pads are finished in grey and white. 

    User interface on slick screen is very good.

    Of note also is that touchscreen functionality is first-rate, it is sharp, slick, logically laid out and easy to navigate. And you can even move widgets around and customise your home screen. While the screens are placed low, and forward visibility isn’t affected, the steering wheel does block the instrument panel in places. Other niggles include the fact that this car has no glovebox, two large passengers sitting side by side will rub shoulders in corners, there is no spare tyre and you can only use the boot if you flip one of the rear seats forward; they split 50:50.

    There’s no glovebox, only a small shelf.

    Space up front and comfort, however, is pretty good. The cabin isn’t wide, but because it’s an EV and comes with a flat floor and a tall roof, it feels roomy. And the white and grey colour scheme helps. In addition, the large front seats with integrated headrests, are soft and supple and offer good shoulder support. They are even large enough to be comfortable for hours.

    With no rear doors, you do need to fold the front seats forward and slide past into the rear. This isn’t too much of a chore though, as the aperture between the front seat and door is wide enough to allow you to slide in easily. And once in the rear, legroom and headroom aren’t too bad and the long rear window floods the cabin with light. However, the seat is low and you sit with your knees up; plus, there are only tiny fixed headrests.

    The rear seat is low, but legroom and headroom are decent.

    You do get ABS, twin airbags, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, and the top-of-the-line cars in India are also likely to come with ESP. Other features include an electric parking brake, hill start assist, LED head and tail-lamps, and keyless entry, among others.

    MG Comet: performance, ride, handling

    It may only have 40.7hp, but it has very little weight to push around. And what makes it feel keen and eager is that all the torque is available as soon as you tap the accelerator. There is no sudden spike or rush of power, more a progressive build-up; but drive MG’s baby with a generous helping of the right foot, and it will easily go past slower traffic.

    This is especially true between 40 and 70kph, which seems to be a sweet spot, and here, a dab on the throttle is sufficient to enjoy mini bursts of acceleration. Switching from Normal to Sport also helps give it a bit of a boost. Performance, however, flattens as you go over 85kph and post this, there’s only a gradual increase in speed. Top speed on the clock reads 105kph, which should translate to roughly 100kph in the real world.

    What comes as a bit of a surprise is that stability at speed, on its tiny 12-inch wheels and the narrow track, is also pretty decent. But at higher speeds over undulations you do need to make small corrections as the car shifts and shuffles over bumps. The view outside is good and you are sat at a decent height. The brakes work well, pedal feel is surprisingly good, and what’s even better is that there seems to be loads of stopping power in reserve. There are three levels of regen to choose from, which makes it easy to set the car up the way you like.

    MG’s Comet, however, is best in the city, where the deliciously light steering, the instant responsiveness of the electric motor and the smooth running make this car refreshingly easy and light to drive. The baby MG even manages to ride well. Everyday bumps and regular bad patches are ridden over in a well damped and controlled manner, with no thud or heave-ho from the suspension. Yes, large holes and big dips upset its composure and toss it around a bit, so you have to slow down or avoid them.

    And it rides silently too, with only a bit of road noise and electric motor whine filtering in at higher speeds. It even manages large speed breakers quite easily. While agility in the city is good, this isn’t a car that enjoys being driven fast in corners. There’s body roll, even at medium speeds, and grip from the weedy tyres is low. So it’s best driven in a relaxed manner.

    MG Comet: verdict

    With cities getting more congested, the traffic becoming more dense and driving, in general, becoming more difficult, there’s a real need for a modern-day compact and comfortable city car. One that’s agile, efficient and light and easy to drive, it should be beautifully built on the inside, well equipped, and importantly, come loaded with tech. It’s a lot to ask and inevitably, there will be some sacrifices, but what’s interesting is that MG’s Comet actually fulfils a lot of these diverse requirements and genuinely presents something fresh and unique. More width on the inside would have been nice, a bit more performance would have gone down well and some won’t like that it’s only a three-door.

    Then, you can use the boot only if you fold down the rear seats and range with this battery will limit it to city use. Still, if you are looking for a self-driven compact city car that has a small environmental footprint, offers extremely low running costs, is comfortable, well built, comes loaded with tech and feels refreshingly light and easy to drive, MG’s Comet could be just the lifestyle EV for you. It could be a bit ahead of its time, and some may choose to spend the Rs 8 lakh-12 lakh that MG is likely to ask for the car on something else. Still, MG’s Comet is here and it’s calling on all first movers and early adopters. Question is are you one?

    Tech Specs

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