MG was once a big name in the sports car industry, but it has turned its back on those roots in favour of building good-value family cars.
This, the 2023 MG 4 electric hatchback, is the latest in a lengthening line of relatively inexpensive battery-powered MGs, but the company says the newcomer is more than just value for money.
With a choice of battery packs, plenty of range and ample performance, the new MG 4 certainly looks good on paper, but it’s going to have to be mighty impressive if it wants to take on the Cupra Born, Volkswagen ID.3 and Hyundai Kona Electric.
The MG 4 is yet to be fully confirmed and detailed for the Australian market, but overseas pricing indicates it could become one of the most affordable EVs on sale Down Under.
In the UK, the Chinese brand’s first ground-up EV for export will kick off at £25,995, equivalent to $45,000. But the detail of interest is rather how this compares to equivalent UK-market EVs also sold in Australia.
For example, the MG 4 undercuts the base MG ZS EV in the UK by £3500, equal to around $A6000. This same electric SUV kicks off in Australia at $46,990 drive-away, suggesting a circa $40,000 price here should be what to expect.
Said MG ZS EV is currently the second-cheapest EV on sale locally, with the most affordable being the BYD Atto 3 that starts at $44,381 before on-roads, or $44,990 drive-away.
Throw in the $3000-plus rebates available to most Australians through State-based policies, and getting a price point for a base MG 4 starting with a ‘3’ appears highly possible.
MG interiors are often robust in a workmanlike kind of way, offering little in the way of style and luxury while providing adequate space and solidity.
But the MG 4 is different. The dashboard is dominated by a big touchscreen infotainment system, while the driver also gets a digital instrument display.
Buttons are largely non-existent, except for a handful of important switches, and quality is generally good.
Of course, there are some harder plastics to be found if you look hard, but they feel hard-wearing and they’re well connected to the rest of the car, which means it all feels as though it’ll cope with family life.
While the car still doesn’t feel that premium, the quality is much closer to that of mainstream rivals from Hyundai and VW.
As is the amount of space on offer. The back seats can accommodate two adults with ease, and the boot is on a par with that of other hatchbacks.
Admittedly, the paperwork shows the 375-litre luggage bay is very slightly smaller than that of the Cupra Born or VW ID.3, but only by a few litres.
It’s more than roomy enough for most, and the vast majority wouldn’t notice the difference between them unless they perused the technical specifications.
They will, however, notice the high-tech touchscreen and digital instrument display included across the MG 4 range.
The smaller instrument display is a bit fiddly, but the touchscreen is good, despite not looking quite as fancy as those found in the ID.3 and Born.
But what it lacks in flair it makes up for with logical menus, simple customisation and sharp responses, all of which combine to make it more user-friendly than most competitor systems.
To start with, MG will offer customers a choice of two battery packs.
The cheaper of the two is a 51kWh ‘Standard Range’ battery that powers a 125kW electric motor and offers around 350km of range, while the ‘Long Range’ option comes with a larger 64kWh battery and a 150kW electric motor, offering up to 450km on a single charge.
Both versions send their power to the rear wheels, but MG is planning a high-performance twin-motor version with all-wheel drive, as well as an Extended Range rear-wheel-drive model with a 77kWh battery. At present, the Long Range version is the obvious choice, giving buyers similar range to a mid-spec ID.3.
Although 450km between trips to the plug might not be immediately achievable for most drivers, the MG4 should achieve around 350km on a charge without too much trouble, assuming it’s used on a mixture of roads. Around town, it’ll get closer to its official range.
However, until the twin-motor version comes to market, it’s the Standard Range car that offers the maximum performance. Although both versions are evenly matched, the base model’s 7.5-second 0-100km/h time is a few tenths faster than that of its more powerful, heavier sibling.
According to UK specifications, the MG 4 SE Standard Range uses 17.0kWh/100km on the combined cycle, while the SE Long Range and Trophy Long Range quote 16.0kWh/100km and 16.6kWh/100km respectively.
The 51kWh version can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 52 minutes using a 50kW fast charger, and 39 minutes with a 150kW charger. Meanwhile, the Long Range 64kWh model takes 60 minutes and 35 minutes respectively on the same rates, indicating the lesser version has a lower charging capacity that isn’t detailed in the specifications table.
The MG 4’s driving experience is arguably its most impressive feature, with ride comfort that’s way ahead of anything else in its class.
Often, electric cars seem to flounder over potholes as the weight of the battery pulls the car down, but that is simply not the case in the MG.
Although the ride is smoother at higher speeds, the car never feels too jarring or savage over any surface, and it’s more comfortable than a lot of premium saloons.
Somehow, MG has achieved that without sacrificing handling.
The MG4’s steering feels a little heavier than in some rivals and the body roll is fairly well controlled, giving it a sense of stability, but the sharp response of the front wheels to any steering inputs means it’s also nimble.
The torque of the motor is enough to unsettle the rear wheels in wet conditions, but there’s enough grip to ensure the car feels surprisingly engaging and agile in corners.
Australian specifications won’t be confirmed until closer to launch, but we can use the UK-market range as a guide.
MG 4 SE highlights:
- MG Pilot assist suite
- 17-inch alloy wheels with aero cover
- LED projector-type headlights
- LED tail lights
- 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment
- iSMART User App
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- DAB+ radio
- 4-speaker audio
- Climate control
- Leather steering wheel
- Black fabric upholstery
- V2L charging (2200W)
MG 4 Trophy adds:
- Long Range battery as standard
- 360-degree cameras
- iSMART Live Services
- Satellite navigation
- 6-speaker audio with 3D sound
- Wireless smartphone charger
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Black leatherette upholstery
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Digital smartphone key
- Adjustable boot floor
The MG 4 is yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety features include:
- AEB with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic Jam Assist
- Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
- High Beam Assist
- Driver Attention Alert
UK-spec MG 4 Trophy adds:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane Change Assist
- Door Opening Warning
MG Australia covers its electric vehicles with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty which also covers the high-voltage battery system for non-commercial use.
As a guide, the MG ZS EV requires maintenance every 24 months or 20,000km – whichever comes first.
The first three visits according to MG’s Precise Price Servicing calculator cost $268 each, totalling $804 for the first 72 months (6 years) or 60,000 kilometres.
The new MG 4 might well offer value for money, but it provides a whole lot more than just that.
Even if it were more expensive, the MG would still be a great electric hatchback, giving customers an appealing blend of range, space and equipment, as well as impeccable ride comfort.
It seems MG has passed the ‘value-for-money’ stage and skipped right the way to the top of the class.
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