Considering an EV? Test Drive an MG4 and Thank Me Later

Considering an EV? Test Drive an MG4 and Thank Me Later

It’s been an incredible year for EVs in Australia, with prices dropping across many models and with the introduction of more models than any previous year.

Even with exciting new brands like Cupra showing up, and the first EVs from Ford and Peugeot being introduced, I personally think that most people should look in the direction of the MG4.

MG’s 2022 EV, the ZS EV, is not a good car, no matter how you shake it. At best, it’s a cumbersome shopping trolly that’s only useful if you never leave the city.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

But the MG4 is a completely different story. An EV from the ground up, and not based on a combustion-engine design like the ZS, the MG4 is practical, stylish, and perfect for a much wider range of drivers.

If MG can stick to the core ethos of the MG4 with its future EVs, providing affordability across several price points, then it’s servicing the EV market much better than many of its competitors. The MG4 is so good that it’s difficult to compete with.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Made 4 me

The best thing about the MG4 is its variety. Across the range, you’ll find five different models – well, technically four. The fifth model is treated by MG Australia as a separate car, considering that it’s an AWD monster (the MG4 XPower, which we’ve already reviewed).

For the proper MG4 lineup, you have four options: the entry-level trim (Excite 51), the base model (Excite), the base model with extras (Essence), and the Long Range (Essence Long Range).

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

From our article where we discussed what we love about the MG4 most, here’s what splits up each trim:

  • MG4 Excite 51kW: $38,990, RWD with 350km WLTP range,  17-inch alloy wheels, 88kWh maximum DC charging speeds
  • MG4 Excite 64kW: $44,990, RWD with 450km WLTP range, 17-inch alloy wheels, 150kWh maximum DC charging speeds
  • MG4 Essence 64kW: $47,990, RWD with 435km WLTP range, 18-inch alloy wheels, 150kWh maximum DC charging speeds, blind spot detection, door open warnings, driver attention alert, high-beam assistance, 360 parking camera, and a synthetic leather interior
  • MG4 Essence 77kW: $55,990, RWD with a 550km WLTP range, 18-inch alloy wheels, 150kWh maximum DC charging speeds, blind spot detection, door open warnings, driver attention alert, high-beam assistance, 360 parking camera, and a synthetic leather interior
  • MG4 XPower 64kW: $59,990, AWD with a 400km WLTP range, 19-inch alloy wheels, 150kWh maximum DC charging speeds, blind spot detection, door open warnings, driver attention alert, high-beam assistance, 360 parking camera, included car colour choice (except the metallic green) and a synthetic leather interior

All models feature adaptive cruise control,  a 10-inch infotainment system, Apple Carplay/Android Auto support and a four-speaker audio system.

Giving prospective EV owners the choice of five options between $39,000 and $60,000, the MG4’s lineup is mostly comprised of fairly good range estimations, mixed with a car that feeds terrific on the road. It’s not a huge car, so it fits into hard-to-get spots much easier than an SUV, and its acceleration is fairly good across the price range.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

It’s only with the battery that you might have some FOMO for not going with either the $44,990 standard model, or the $55,990 Long Range model.

The Excite 51’s 350km battery estimation isn’t terrible, and it’s perfect for, say, a trek between Sydney and Newcastle, or for just putting around town. On a long drive, you’d be parked at public chargers for much longer than with other models, with its maximum DC charging speed of 88kWh. However its $38,990 price makes buying this EV a realistic option for many drivers.

For our review, I spent a weekend with the MG4 Essence 64kW. The 15km lower range estimation, despite the same battery size as its $3,000 cheaper counterpart, can be attributed to the larger wheels.

I found the range to be completely fine; it was enough to have a fun weekend with, heading from Sydney to Newcastle as I normally do and using a supercharger at some point before I head back (and just whacking it on charge overnight where I stayed). It’s a good test for highway, suburban, and inner-city driving, and I think the MG4 did a really good job across the board.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I’d encourage prospective drivers to consider the Essence lineup. The smarter features package, particularly the 360 parking camera, are terrific, and definitely made things a whole lot easier.

Just to wrap things up for this section; being a hatchback, you might be critical of the MG4’s rear seat. SUVs are typically quite spacious, and the MG4 doesn’t look all that big in the back.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised. At one point during my journey, I had myself, my father, my stepmother, and my stepmother’s two granddaughters in the car, and even with one of them in a booster seat, the rear seat was fine. Packed, but perfectly fine.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I’m being 4 real

I’m struggling to conjure up things I disliked about the MG4, but all of the criticisms I think of keep getting kneecapped by the value on offer here.

The interior is extremely basic, in that there’s just not much going on – two screens, one behind the wheel, with a handful of buttons bellow the centre-screen and a circular shifter. One might say it’s too basic, but I really don’t mind – it’s fine in my opinion. I don’t personally need my dash to light up like a Christmas tree, though I would prefer there to be more bindable buttons.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

I like the centre tray and the small centre compartment, especially since there’s a lot more legroom with this setup, but it might not be for everyone.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Of particular note, I wish that one of the physical centre console buttons was bound to the car’s camera modes, so I could get my 360 view on demand. You can bind actions like the camera to the bindable star buttons on the steering wheel (there’s two of these), but these buttons are better reserved for driving mode (Eco, Normal, Sport, a user-desired ‘Custom’ mode, and Snow) and for regenerative braking strength.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Additionally, I would have liked the car to have a better memory. Whenever I started the car, I’d have to reenable my preferred settings (drive mode, braking power, one-pedal drive, for example). The operating system could do with some fine-tuning, but at least it doesn’t get too in the way when you’re using Android Auto (I didn’t use Apple Carplay during my review).

And, just as we noted in our MG4 XPower review, the lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control aren’t terribly strong, and can’t always be relied upon. It’s easy for the lane assistance to get spooked when, for example, an oncoming car tricks it into thinking that there is a car in front, causing the car to brake automatically.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Pretty much all of my problems with this car end with “yeah, but it has a really nice price”. And it does! If you wanted stronger lane assistance and cruise control, you’d probably be better off with a Polestar, but if you want an affordable electric car, the MG4 has almost every other automaker beat. It’s so good, that not only do I think it’s a great entry-level EV, but I also think prospective buyers of more expensive EVs may be persuaded to save some money with the MG4.

Oh, and one last thing – updates are handled at dealerships and are not over-the-air. You might see this as a disadvantage, but one of the MG4 owners I know said that it was largely a non-issue. I can’t really speak to this because I only had the car for four days. The boot is also manual lift, and can’t raise itself, and there’s no frunk.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

4 the best

The MG4 is a victory for MG. It’s extremely difficult to dislike this car, and more than any other car, I’ve felt that this could be the one for me, in particular. Small and stylish with a nice range, and most importantly actually an affordable price point, it’s cars like the MG4 that will make the biggest difference in the shift to EVs.

This is a great car. It obviously doesn’t drive as nicely as a more expensive Hyundai Ioniq 5, or look as elegant as a Tesla Model Y, but it’s a lot more achievable than most other EVs in Australia. If you have the chance to, I recommend taking the MG4 for a test drive and seeing it for yourself.

If you’re thinking of buying, I personally think the $44,990 model is perfect for most people, but the Essence models ($47,990 for the extras and $55,990 for the bigger battery) might just win you over.

The MG4 is available in Australia now from $38,990. The base colour is white, and additional colours cost $700.

Want more Aussie car news? Here’s every EV we’ve reviewed in the last two years, all the EVs we can expect down under soon, and our guide to finding EV chargers across the country. Check out our dedicated Cars tab for more.

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