MG’s Latest EV Makes a Striking First Impression, Both on Cost and Quality

MG’s Latest EV Makes a Striking First Impression, Both on Cost and Quality

The MG4 absolutely astounds me. On a drive day hosted by MG Australia, I got to take it for a 300km spin – and so far, it’s everything I want from an electric car.

This isn’t something I say lightly. For me, I’m most interested in affordability when it comes to electric vehicles – it’s why we celebrated the BYD Atto 3 when it came to Australia, and compared to more expensive EVs, it’s why we liked the Polestar 2 so much.

This said, it’s also why we thought the ZS EV, last year’s electric vehicle from MG, was such a disappointment. At $44,990, for the range and experience you get, you weren’t getting good value, especially with the BYD Atto 3 not all that much more expensive. It’s no wonder that the lowest-price ZS EV has now been scrapped locally by MG, and I suspect the entire ZS EV range isn’t far off either.

The MG4 is a completely different beast to the ZS EV, and in my opinion, it rights all the wrongs of that car.

MG let me take the MG4 for a drive from Sydney down to the Southern Highlands and back, and in that time, I got to try out the ‘Essence’, ‘Long Range’, and ‘Excite’ variants (however, I didn’t get to drive the cheapest model).

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Four the best

Inside and out, the MG4 is completely different to the ZS EV. A hatchback that sits lower to the ground than the ZS (an SUV), the MG4 is stylistically much more impressive than anything MG has released in the last 20 years (except for perhaps the MG XPower SV, which released in 2006).

The differences go far beyond looks. It’s also the first EV from MG to be made on the ‘Modular Scalable Platform’, an electric platform developed by its parent company, SAIC motor (they also own GWM, Baojun, and Wuling, and have a collaborative agreement with General Motors).

With that new platform, the MG4 offers much greater driving range across its five Australian models – which now officially includes the ‘XPower’ AWD model, which had been teased by the company for months, although we don’t have any local pricing or configuration information just yet.

For the models we do know about, here’s the range and price you can expect to pay (the number indicates battery capacity):

  • MG4 Excite 51kWh: $38,990, with 350km WLTP range
  • MG4 Excite 64kWh: $44,990, 450km WLTP range
  • MG4 Essence 64kWh: $47,990, 435km WLTP range
  • MG4 Long Range 77kWh: $55,990, 550km WLTP range.
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Now, for many drivers, 350km might not seem like enough, and personally, I consider my range comfort zone to be about 400km. The Excite falls short of that, but not really by much, and it improves upon the WLTP range of its predecessor while also being cheaper.

What I love about the MG4 is the range options you get… Well, across the range. Depending on your budget, MG has an option for you.

As we wrote when the MG4 was officially revealed for the Australian market, you get more features as you go up in price. The big difference between the Long Range and the Essence is the range, as is the difference between the Excite 51kWh and Excite 64kWh, but when jumping from the Excite to the Essence, you get a 360-degree camera, 18-inch alloy wheels (17-inch on the Excite variants), and greater driver assistance features.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

In my driving, I found the lane assistance to be a little inconsistent – it would often not warn me when passing over lines accidentally, but sometimes it would, and it would pull away from the lines without, in my opinion, correcting itself on the road strongly enough. One pedal drive makes its MG debut with the MG4, which I found to be satisfying.

The interior remains about the same across all models, and MG has gone with quite an inoffensive aesthetic. Some drivers may not like the two screens that protrude out of the dash, one behind the wheel and the other being the infotainment system, but it does make the car seem quality and quite up-market.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I wish there were tactile air-conditioning buttons, but I got used to controlling it through the infotainment system. Additionally, Android Auto worked a charm, but I’m not an iPhone user anymore, so I can’t tell you about Apple Carplay.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Here’s another angle.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Just a side note: the MG4 doesn’t have a start/stop button. If the car detects the key inside the car, it will automatically be in standby, until you press your foot into the brake – it will wake, and await you to change gear from Neutral to Drive or Reverse. The gear shift was also really nicely designed and placed, giving the car a starship feel.

Faster recharging speeds are also one of the more important features that shouldn’t be left unmentioned:

  • On a DC public charger, the MG4 Excite 51kWh can recharge at 88kW, providing 10-80 per cent charge in about 37 minutes
  • On a DC public charger, the MG4 Excite 64kWh, Essence 64kWh, and Long Range 77kWh can recharge at 140kW, providing 10-80 per cent charge in about 26 minutes.
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Now, 140kW isn’t a bad charging speed for what you spend – the more expensive 2022 Polestar 2 offered a maximum DC charging speed of 133kW, and the Cupra Born offered a maximum of 170kW. You’re unlikely to get a better speed with any other EV across the entire $38,990 – $55,990 price point. I personally didn’t get an opportunity to test this thing at a charger.

And it would of course be unbecoming of me to not mention that, if we weren’t so focused on calling this thing a budget or cheap car, then we’d be calling it a hot hatch – it may not be the defining trait, but by gosh is it a zippy little thing.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

The Excite 51kWh can reach 0-100km in just 7.7 seconds, while the Excite 64kWh and Essence 64kWh do so in 7.9 seconds, while the Long Range does so in 6.5 seconds. In comparison, the Cupra Born, which we loved for being a hot hatch, could do the same in seven seconds. The MG4 did feel a bit more bumpy on the road than many of the other EVs I’ve driven, but most of these have been larger SUVs, so no surprises there.

Additionally, it’s a RWD with AWD introduced in the ‘XPower’ (again, we’re still to hear local details), and on the road it was a blast to drive. Obviously, it didn’t feel like a rocket, like the Tesla Model Y Performance or even the Cupra Born, but it was surely enough.

Let’s run through some loose-ends. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the rear-vision, but I reckon by removing the rear headrests, things would be improved drastically.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Here’s the boot.

The boot. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

And here’s the backseat.

It’s not a terribly big backseat, but good enough for a hatchback. Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I think the only thing really missing from my own personal EV shopping list is a skylight – which I’m happy to live without, but if there were one, it would definitely make the rear feel more spacious.

And… That’s kind of it from me, really. At the time of writing, I’m very impressed with the MG4. It services a wide customer base with a great price range and really nice styling.

Whether or not I think so highly of the BYD Dolphin, the MG4’s main competition in Australia, we’ll have to wait and see.

MG4 deliveries are expected to begin this month.

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