MG Comet EV First Drive Review: More Than Just A Toy
- Apr 27, 2023
- Views : 2744
- 11 min read
MG is trying to make an affordable EV more appealing with quirky styling and premium features, and it just might work
The race to offer the most affordable EV in India is well and truly underway, with Tata setting the benchmark with the Tiago EV late last year. Now, MG has entered the ring with something from its global sibling lineup by bringing the Comet EV with the lowest entry price.
It's a familiar formula in the global EV space for urban mobility solutions: an ultra-compact two-door suited for city use. What's different today is that EV technology has come a long way as battery packs with increased energy densities offer more range in smaller packages while also supporting more electronic features. This format of a vehicle has been prevalent in East-Asian markets such as Indonesia and Japan for a while now. While it’s a size and shape that has not caught on in India yet, it may change with the new MG Comet EV.
The Technical Details
It is based on the pure electric GSEV platform and houses a 17.3kWh Li-ion battery pack in the middle, under the front seats. The Comet EV has a rear-mounted electric motor (yes, it’s RWD!) rated at 42PS of power and 110Nm. Unlike most other EVs in the market, there is only one battery and powertrain on offer.
The Comet EV claims a range of up to 230km but based on our experiences with EVs so far, we'd subtract that by around 35 per cent and you can expect 150km in the real world with ease. It comes with three drive modes - Eco, Normal and Sport; and three regeneration levels - Light, Normal and Heavy.
The best charging option available is a 3.3kW AC charger that can fully replenish the battery in 7 hours, while a 10-80 per cent top-up will take five hours. Using a 15A home socket would probably be sufficient for overnight charging.
Obviously, the Comet EV is small, but to understand how small it really is, let's take a look at its dimensions:
MG Comet EV
For context, this makes it shorter than even the Tata Nano and a lot shorter than the Maruti Alto. However, the Comet EV is a bit wider than both of them while being slightly less taller than the Nano.
the automobile community
No, we're not describing the design of the Comet EV itself but rather what you can expect from the unsuspecting public when they see it. The ultra-compact EV has a very box-like appearance with toy-like 12-inch wheels on each corner. The short overhangs may make it seem like an enlarged gadget with windows, but they're important for good approach and departure angles to get over bumps and through potholes.
The MG Comet EV has very similar shapes for the front and rear LED lighting elements. Both ends have an LED strip across the width with the same shaped headlamps and taillamps. These are premium design details hinting at its modernity and one more illuminated area is the MG logo on the charging port cover at the front.
The chrome line extending from the front LED DRL strip connects to the outside rearview mirror for seamless visual integration. It even gets indicators integrated into them. The lack of cladding is a refreshing design choice in the current crop of new cars in India.
In terms of colours, there are five base colours on offer:
Apple Green with Starry Black roof
Candy White with Starry Black roof
MG further offers a host of customisation options by way of decals and stickers, many of which are themed with changes to the interior and the wheel cover design as well.
Overall, the MG Comet's design may seem polarising to some but it's far from ugly. In this reviewer's subjective opinion, the Comet EV is refreshingly quirky without a gimmick to its styling. Furthermore, when a fleet of these was dispatched onto public roads, around 40 or so of us, they did seem like a swarm of insects buzzing through the streets but did not look out of place in the city traffic.
Inside The MG Comet EV
The Comet EV is a four-seater with just two massive doors. Don't mistake this thing's diminutive size being a budget constraint as you're welcomed by a premium cabin to match the vibe of its exterior details.
The unique experience starts from the moment you get handed the "keys,” which looks a lot like it was inspired by products of a certain Californian tech company, to the MG Comet. The fob has a rounded square shape with chrome around the exterior edge.
When you enter the cabin, the light shades of the dual-tone white and grey cabin theme along with the large glass surfaces give it a surprisingly roomy feel. This interior gives off budget Ioniq 5 vibes (that one costs nearly five times as much), but it would be a pain to maintain with our conditions. The large integrated displays, soft-touch materials, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and chic cup holders on the flat dashboard certainly give it a premium look and feel.
You'll be happy to find a good number of tactile controls in the Comet EV. The climate control panel for the manual AC has three dials and the button closest to the driver is for switching between drive modes and regen levels.
There's no central console below the dash, which is good for leg room and storing items using the baggage hooks next to the two USB ports. There's also a third USB port under the IRVM, likely for the ease of those who mount their smartphone to the windscreen.
The rotary dial for the drive selector is positioned between the front seats and makes an affirmative clicking sound. You’d expect this kind of setup to include an electronic parking brake near the selector, but instead we get a large manual handbrake. It is a surprisingly old-school detail in an otherwise modern cabin.
There are mini-lights for each of the drive modes - charge, reverse, neutral and drive. This dial is in a concave housing with a cool textured design and the power window controls are positioned just behind it.
The brushed silver finish around the cabin like the AC vents and the dials also add to its premium visual appeal. The seats are upholstered in fabric but the paddling still feels fairly comfortable. With the fixed headrest, it does feel a bit like an aeroplane seat, but like those in premium economy.
Moving to the back of the Comet EV is easier than one might think. The front-passenger side seat has a one-touch fold and recline feature that makes it easy to climb into the back thanks to the tall shape and flat floor. One can enter from the driver's side too but that would require two hands to pull and fold the seat.
Can You Sit In The Back?
The rear seats of the MG Comet EV are low, ensuring there is sufficient headroom. While you do sit knees-up with a lack of under-thigh support, you get plenty of kneeroom, even for people up to 6ft tall. These can be used for adults on short journeys, like city commutes, but would not be comfortable over a long period, like anything over an hour.
In typical MG fashion, the Comet EV tries to treat you to the kind of features you'd expect in cars twice as expensive. It boasts dual 10.25-inch displays, one for the infotainment touchscreen and the other for the digital cluster.
The infotainment unit has a tablet-like interface with customisable widget layouts and the wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is handy. The audio system is not crisp, but it's loud enough to fill up the small cabin. It even has MG's iSmart connected car features with voice recognition for a handful of commands, including those for climate control, and simple internet searches.
While the infotainment unit is a bit slow to respond, the digital instrument cluster features a fair range of animations. The left side of this screen offers the choice of information on the display while the right side shows the speed, odometer and charge level. Between the two, there is a graphic of a far-rear view of the Comet EV on a road. This little digital version of the EV offers vehicle information such as open doors or the lights being on/off.
The steering-mounted controls on the two-spoke wheel will also remind you of an American electronic device but without the premium feel. There are dummy buttons on the left side reminding you that this little EV gets more features in a different market. The button for the hazards is housed in the roofliner, next to the cabin lights with a dial to switch settings.
There is no start-stop button here as you get the car ready to go by pressing the brake pedal twice. To switch it off, you simply exit the Comet EV and lock it using the key fob. There's an emergency switch under the tilt-adjustable steering column to switch it off but MG advises against using it under normal circumstances.
What's missing from the Comet EV?
It will not surprise anyone to know that the biggest compromise in a sub-3 metre ultra-compact offering is space, particularly when it comes to storage.
The dashboard features a large tray on the passenger side and the large doors can easily be used to keep a water bottle, a small laptop and some snacks all at the same time. However, there is no closed or covered storage anywhere in the cabin. The best option you have to keep something hidden away is to put stuff into the seatback pockets of the front seats.
Then we have the matter of the boot - there isn't one. There is only a small tray-like area behind the rear seats and half of it is taken up by the charging kit. It can fit a couple of sleek laptop bags at best. To have any usable luggage room, you'll need to put down one or both of the 50:50 split-folding rear seats which are easy to do. In our experience, you could also use it as a three-seater with three small travel bags.
Another issue we found with the Comet EV is that the driver's seat is not height adjustable which does make it hard to find the ideal driving position. The unusual proportions do throw up some ergonomic inconveniences. There are some big blindspots to the sides while the ORVMs also offer a limited view. The bigger issue we discovered was that the pedal positioning requires you to have your ankle steeply folded which can get tiring real quick.
Surprisingly fun to drive
Getting behind the wheel of a Comet EV feels a lot like getting ready to drive a road-legal toy. You sit fairly upright and close to the nose and the visibility is great thanks to the tall windshield. The steering wheel feels light and well-suited to city driving for easy u-turns (4.2m radius by the way), and manoeuvring in tight spots. But don’t expect any feel or feedback from the road, and it does not give much confidence when sharp direction changes are required to dodge a distracted two- or three-wheeler.
Its electric motor has just enough juice to be zippy with two-to-three people on board. The Comet accelerates quickly from 20kmph to 60kmph and feels steady doing it. Keep your foot down and you'll see the readout go up to triple digits on the highway. It’ll feel planted while going in a straight line thanks to its squarish stance. The top speed is reportedly capped at 105kmph.
In terms of drive modes, the Normal and Sport settings seem indistinguishable while the Eco limits the acceleration even further. The AC is quite effective and does not have a noticeable impact on the responsiveness.
The "Normal" setting for the regenerative braking is easy to get used to and you could use the "Heavy" setting to try and get a few more kilometres of range. In "Light" mode, the regen feels almost negligible at city speeds and offers more of an ICE experience, like cruising in neutral.
The ride quality of the MG Comet EV does leave something to be desired. While sufficiently pliant over regular bumps and undulations to keep the front passengers from getting unsettled, the rear occupants take the brunt of the impact. However, it has no trouble going over speedbreakers and potholes at slow speeds. You may grimace at the thud of the suspension travel bottoming out, but it felt sturdy enough to carry on without issue.
Overall, the compact and zippy EV leaves you with a smile for how freeing and child-like the drive experience feels.
Who Should Consider The MG Comet EV?
MG has revealed that the introductory prices for the Comet EV start at Rs 7.98 lakh (ex-showroom), making it the most affordable electric car in India. We expect the fully loaded variant that we drove to cost around Rs 11 lakh, which is a pretty penny for something with just around 150km of real-world range and no boot.
The Comet EV is not as practical as something like the Tiago EV, and caters to an entirely different buyer. This is nobody’s only car and unlikely to be anyone’s first family car. The Comet EV is a city runabout which can act as a green and compact alternative to your household’s other premium car, likely an SUV.
MG Comet EV Video Review
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