Omoda E5 prototype review

The Omoda E5 is intended to have a rather upmarket feel, and Hyundai and Kia are a particular target. However, there is a whiff of tackiness to the trim in our top-spec Noble prototype test car. Small details like the chiny, chrome speaker covers, and the wave pattern on some of the plastic trim. It’s trying a bit too hard, in areas.

Still, the double wireless phone charging pad is great – especially as it has its own cooling vent, to keep your phone from overheating – and there are some other neat touches including screen brightness controls that are permanently visible on the panel next to the steering wheel. Talking about illumination, though, the back-lit, touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel disappear completely if it’s still light outside and you turn the headlights on. Don’t expect to be able to turn your music down when it’s foggy or raining heavily, then.

Naturally, there’s a huge, 12.3-inch touchscreen on top of the dash, which is housed together with the big driver’s readout. Our car was yet to have its final software update, but even with the tweaks that we’re told will happen before the model hits dealerships, the system will like feel a touch dated. The graphics are a bit grainy, finding some of the car’s settings takes too long (you have to prod at least three- or four times to turn lane-keep assist and speed limit warnings off), and the home menu icons and in-screen temperature controls are small and fiddly. It’s reminiscent of MG’s touchscreen software back when the MG4 was first launched, in fact, and you’ll find the systems from Kia, Hyundai, Renault and (dare we say it…) even Volkswagen, usefully better. Still, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, so you won’t have to use the native system very often, anyway.

Rear passenger space is okay. You’ll get a couple of six-footers in the back with relative ease, although headroom is a bit tighter than in some rivals and there’s very little foot space beneath the front seats.

The boot has a paltry 292-litre claimed capacity, which is utterly woeful and more what you’d expect in a city car than a family crossover. We’re a bit sceptical about that figure, though, and suspect that Omoda hasn’t included underfloor storage, as the boot really doesn’t look so bad to us; you’ll get the big shop in there, no worries. There’s also a small frunk, although it’s shallow enough that you’ll probably end up sticking your charging cables in the boot, anyway.

And if you do lift that boot floor up – praise be to the car gods, it’s an electric car with a full-size spare! We thought we’d never see the day, and when the E5 comes to the UK it’s possible that it’ll be a space-saver, but even that is a huge improvement on a tube of gunk, or nothing at all.

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