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MG MG4 2024 review


It’s not hyperbole to say the MG4 may be the most important new car launched in 2023. In fact, it may be the most important new model in recent years.

Why? Because this is the car that will make electric vehicles affordable to the masses. We’ve already sampled the entry-level model in the range, the $38,990 (plus on-road costs) MG4 Excite 51, but now the Chinese brand has expanded the range with two more powertrain options - a 64kWh battery and a 77kWh version - as well as a new, better-equipped Essence trim level. And, a dual-motor, high-performance MG4 XPower is confirmed to arrive by the end of the year.

What that means, is there’s now a broader range of MG4 to choose from, so it will provide an electric option for a much broader range of Australians. It certainly has the potential to bring a lot of motorists into their first electric vehicle - but is it good enough? Read on to find out…

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10

MG made headlines when it announced the MG4 Excite 51 would start at just $38,990, only for fellow Chinese brand, BYD, to steal those headlines with its $38,890 Dolphin. But while you can order a Dolphin from BYD it’s yet to actually hit the road here. So the advantage has shifted back to MG, for now at least.

The new models in the range are the Excite 64, Essence 64 and Essence 77 (with the numbers all referring to the battery size). Pricing for these new models is $44,990 for the Excite 64, $47,990 for the Essence 64 and $55,990 for the Essence 77.

All models in the MG4 line-up are equipped with vehicle-to-lead technology, which means you can draw power from the car to power external appliances. All models in the MG4 line-up are equipped with vehicle-to-lead technology, which means you can draw power from the car to power external appliances.

For comparison, the GWM Ora is priced from $44,490, the Nissan Leaf range starts at $50,990 and even the new Fiat 500e will begin at $52,500, so the MG4 has marked itself out as the most price competitive EV range in the local market.

The Excite 51 comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights as well as cloth-trimmed seats, a 7.0-inch digital instrument panel, 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a four-speaker sound system. All models in the MG4 line-up are equipped with vehicle-to-lead technology, which means you can draw power from the car to power external appliances.

10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a four-speaker sound system. 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a four-speaker sound system.

The Excite 64 gets an upgraded powertrain, which we’ll detail shortly, but otherwise the features are the same. The Essence 64 and 77 models do get extra equipment though, with a six-speaker sound system, wireless smartphone charging pad, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather and fabric trim and 18-inch alloy wheels with aero covers.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design? 7/10

MG calls the design style of the MG4 “Energetic Agile” which is a grandiose name but also not entirely inappropriate. The design is very clearly shaped by the wind tunnel, with this hatch needing to cut through the air as efficiently as possible to maximise driving range.

However, unlike some EVs that end up looking oddly proportioned or generic in shape, the MG4 makes a statement with its crisp lines and relatively wide stance. The ‘twin-aero’ rear spoiler for the Essence models also adds to the edgy, dynamic look as do the aero covers on the alloy wheels.

The ‘twin-aero’ rear spoiler for the Essence models also adds to the edgy, dynamic look as do the aero covers on the alloy wheels. The ‘twin-aero’ rear spoiler for the Essence models also adds to the edgy, dynamic look as do the aero covers on the alloy wheels.

Inside the design isn’t quite as elaborate, with MG clearly opting for a minimal look. Aside from the two screens there’s not really much else to the cabin. The two-spoke, squared-off steering wheel is a nice touch, feeling solid in your hand, but some of the other materials used - such as those on the doors and dash panels - look and feel a bit cheap. But that’s understandable given where MG has priced this EV.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside? 8/10

The minimalist design does make for a roomy cabin though, especially for a small hatch.

There’s good space up front for both passengers and storage. The relatively slim battery design - MG says the battery pack is only 110mm tall - means you can sit lower than other EVs. That also means there’s room for a storage area between the front seats with a pair of cup holders, a large, flat lidded tray (with one USB-C and one USB-A outlet just above) and the centre console box. The smartphone charging pad sits beneath the infotainment screen but it's too shallow, with my phone often sliding off the pad when accelerating or turning.

The smartphone charging pad sits beneath the infotainment screen but it's too shallow, with my phone often sliding off the pad when accelerating or turning. The smartphone charging pad sits beneath the infotainment screen but it's too shallow, with my phone often sliding off the pad when accelerating or turning.

In the back there’s respectable space, with this 180cm reviewer able to sit behind his driving position without feeling cramped. However, there isn’t much else to talk about, with no cup holders, no air conditioning vents and no fold down armrest. The Essence model we drove did have seat back pockets, as you’d typically find, but also two smaller pockets at the top of the seat which are seemingly designed to pop your smartphone, which is a nice touch. There’s also ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats.

The Excite 51 comes with cloth-trimmed seats. The Excite 51 comes with cloth-trimmed seats.

The boot is measured at 363 litres in the Excite 51 and Excite 64 and 350 litres in the Essence models, with the seats up, and MG claims it expands to 1177-litres with the rear seats stowed flat. Oddly, there’s no under-bonnet storage, despite there being plenty of space for one, which does seem to miss a golden opportunity for an EV.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its motor? 7/10

As alluded to earlier, there are three different powertrain options for the expanded MG4 range, depending on the price you pay, but all are rear-mounted motors and drive the rear wheels.

The entry-level Excite 51 gets a 51kWh battery with a 125kW electric motor. Stepping up to the Excite and Essence 64 brings a 64kWh battery and more powerful 150kW motor. Finally, the Essence 77 has a (you guessed it) 77kWh battery pack and gets the most potent motor, with 180kW.

As alluded to earlier, there are three different powertrain options for the expanded MG4 range, depending on the price you pay, but all are rear-mounted motors and drive the rear wheels. As alluded to earlier, there are three different powertrain options for the expanded MG4 range, depending on the price you pay, but all are rear-mounted motors and drive the rear wheels.

Oddly, the Excite 51 can manage 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, but the more powerful Excite and Essence 64 takes 7.2 seconds. Neither can match the Essence 77, which takes just 6.5 seconds on the same test. We didn’t independently verify these claimed numbers but from the driver’s seat they seem realistic, with the MG4 not ludicrously quick but rather sprightly.

Efficiency – What is its driving range? What is its charging time? 7/10

MG uses WLTP claims for all of its range data for the MG4 line-up. As you’d expect the range increases as you spend more.

The Excite 51 can reportedly manage 350km between charging, which may be the smallest but is still more than enough for most urban dwellers. Stepping up to the 64kWh models, the Excite manages a 450km range on its 17-inch wheels, while the Essence range is 435km as it’s on the bigger 18-inch wheels and weighs 24kgh more with its extra equipment.

Charging times also vary from model to model, although all three batteries are capable of taking a rapid 50kW charger. Charging times also vary from model to model, although all three batteries are capable of taking a rapid 50kW charger.

The Essence 77 has the longest range, an impressive claim of 530km, which puts it near the head of the pack for current EV models.

Charging times also vary from model to model, although all three batteries are capable of taking a rapid 50kW charger. Using one of those you can get the MG4 batteries from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes for the 51, 60 minutes for the 64 models and 75 minutes for the Essence 77.

Driving – What's it like to drive? 7/10

Despite its affordability the MG4 impresses on the road with its performance and handling. It may be cheap but it doesn’t feel like MG has cut corners in developing this new modular EV architecture that underpins the MG4.

It’s not perfect, but it does a very good job on the road. One imperfection is the lack of a ‘start-stop’ button, with MG using a sensor in the driver’s seat, just like Tesla. It’s a nice gimmick but it does take a moment for the car to actually be ready to drive, so you’re not sure when you can actually engage a gear, which is a minor frustration - but a frustration nonetheless.

Once on the move, things improve though. As mentioned earlier, none of the models are in the upper echelon for acceleration. If you want ‘ludicrous’ speed then you’ll need to pay more, but if you want a small hatch that feels responsive and has instant punch, then this will meet your needs.

There are several drive modes - Normal, Eco, Sport, Snow and Custom - but these all drive relatively similarly, with throttle response the most obvious difference between them. There are several drive modes - Normal, Eco, Sport, Snow and Custom - but these all drive relatively similarly, with throttle response the most obvious difference between them.

But if you do want shove-you-back-in-your-seat performance be patient, because MG Australia has confirmed it will offer the 320kW/600Nm MG4 XPower by the end of 2023.

There are several drive modes - Normal, Eco, Sport, Snow and Custom - but these all drive relatively similarly, with throttle response the most obvious difference between them.

There’s also a range of regenerative braking modes, from ‘low’ all the way to ‘one-pedal’ driving so you can tailor that to your preferences or the conditions you’re in.

On a section of twisty road the steering felt direct, the chassis was responsive and the rear-wheel-drive layout added to the sporty handling and helped it power out of corners. On a section of twisty road the steering felt direct, the chassis was responsive and the rear-wheel-drive layout added to the sporty handling and helped it power out of corners.

In city traffic the MG4 behaves like any other hatchback, with agile handling and the immediate response of the electric motor means you can pop into gaps at your pleasure. On the open road it’s arguably more impressive.

While not a full-blown hot hatch it’s a genuinely enjoyable small car to drive. On a section of twisty road the steering felt direct, the chassis was responsive and the rear-wheel-drive layout added to the sporty handling and helped it power out of corners.

What was disappointing, though, were the brakes. While fine around town, on the twistier roads the lack of feel and modulation came through. Even in the ‘low’ setting the regenerative braking interferes with the pedal feel and dulls the driving experience.

But that’s a minor issue on what is otherwise a pleasant car to drive.

 

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating? 7/10

MG4 comes with a comprehensive list of safety features, with the MG Pilot active safety suite available across the range. This includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The MG was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, when it was tested in 2022. The MG was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, when it was tested in 2022.

Because of this, as well as the six airbags and reversing cameras, the MG was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, when it was tested in 2022.

However, not all active safety features are calibrated to the same level and we found the lane keeping assist to be particularly intrusive when driving and found ourselves turning it off, which is possible via the menu.

 

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs? 9/10

The MG4 is covered by the brand’s seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, so you will have peace-of-mind if this is your first EV or even your first MG.

Remarkably the servicing intervals for the MG4 are every two years or 40,000km, whichever comes first. A minor service is only $296 but a major service (which comes every second service) will cost you $886, so for the first six years you’ll only be up for $1478 in servicing costs.

You’d be forgiven for having modest expectations of the MG4, after all this is still a relatively young brand in the Australian market (despite the familiar badge) and this is a very affordable EV. And cheap doesn’t often equal good.

But the MG4 is good. In fact, it’s better than good. This is a small electric car I would recommend based on its driving and design as much as its price. 

Having said that, the more expensive it gets the less compelling it becomes, so our pick of the range is the $38,990 Excite 51 - offering a truly affordable entry into electric motoring.

While there are still some obvious concessions to reaching its affordable price point, the reality is the MG4 will open up the EV market to a bigger audience than any of its competitors. Which means it has the potential to be the most important new model launched in 2023 and a turning point for what we drive on Australian roads.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

$38,990

Based on new car retail price

Score

4/5
Price Guide

$38,990

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
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