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Car reviews - MG - MG4


We like
Tidy rear-wheel drive dynamics, tight turning circle, simple two-screen dash, decent audio, acceptable range, quickish recharge, comfortable interior, striking looks
Room for improvement
Can’t achieve MG’s range claim, usual ADAS annoyance, most functions via screen menus, slow to react ‘gear’ select, no start button, top model is pricey

We pit MG 4 against MG 4 to see if a bigger battery wins out over a cheaper price tag

3 Jul 2024



FIVE versions of the MG 4 small five-door hatchback are available with four rear-wheel drive models running 51kWh, 64kWh and 77kWh batteries in two grades and a high performance X-Power dual-motor AWD variant with a 64kWh battery.


We drove the top spec’ single-motor Essence 150kW/250Nm 64kWh ($46,990 d/a) and the Essence 180kW/350Nm 77kWh ($52,990 d/a) back to back and overall liked what we found… with a few caveats.


They mostly related to the need for nearly daily recharging on the 64kWh model and the menu-driven in-car functions which we would suggest are as distracting, possibly more distracting than using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel.


Want to adjust the demister… start scrolling through menus on the 12.5-inch centre touch screen, change the drive mode… same thing and so it goes.


But both models tested were decent things certainly a step up on some other BEVs we have driven of late with more discreet ADAS calibrations that nearly, repeat, nearly fade into the background unless the cruise control is activated.


Coupled with that is the inherent drivability of a rear-wheel drive platform which in the case of these two cars contributes to a 50:50 weight distribution reflected in its tidy dynamics and engaging drive feel.


Built on a dedicated Modular Scalable Platform and not a repurposed ICE platform, the MG4 offers up an extensive array of safety tech and comfort features right from the (not tested) base Excite 51 model.


Range wide goodies include: five driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow, Custom), four regenerative braking modes(1, 2, 3, and Auto), one pedal mode, a 10.25-inch multi-function colour touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, MG Pilot driver safety technology, vehicle to load functionality (V2L), i-Smart connectivity, a reverse camera and 17- or 18-inch alloys with two-tone aero covers.


Essence also gains satellite navigation, 360-degree parking cameras, height adjustable loading floor, wireless phone charging, Bluetooth and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.


The impressive MG Pilot safety suite includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, intelligent speed limit assist with traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, driver attention alert and intelligent high beam assist.


To this the Essence variant adds dooring warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection and lane change assist.


The interior follows a minimalist style centred around two screens on the dash with a number of button controls under the main 12.5-inch centre screen and others positioned around and on the steering wheel.


The test Essence models score partial faux leather seat upholstery and piano black fascia. MG’s iSmart system delivers connected car capabilities including remote and voice activated function activation.


The driver’s 7.0-inch screen is configurable through a number of choices while the six-speaker audio in the higher spec models delivers pleasing tones into the comfy interior.


It has a rotary gear selector which is OK to use and no key like a Polestar meaning you simply get in with the key on your person select R or D and push the accelerator. When you’re done, get out with the key on your person walk away and press lock…


Driving Impressions


Styling is best described as in-your-face especially the rear which seems somewhat contrived as if too many people had their two bob’s worth.


But elsewhere it’s a good looker especially the feline frontal appearance highlighted by LEDs and the side profile that exhibits a “boomerang” curve to the body through a lower applique under the doors.


Inside is simply styled and good to look at with the two screens already mentioned with clear read outs and a run of buttons forming the majority of the dash. Both test models touchscreens lacked sensitivity that required a heavier than expected touch, more a tap.


Four comfy seats are provided with a decent expandable load space down the back, but access is compromised a little by small door apertures.


The driving position is well designed capped with a squared off steering wheel and multiple seat adjustments. And yes, you still must switch off unwanted ADAS features every time…


The 77 was driven first and it delivers strong, verging on sporty performance thanks to its higher output. It’s quickish out of the blocks and has plenty of roll-on kick for overtaking and is nearly silent in operation apart from exterior mirror wind noise at speed.


The test car started out registering nearly 600km range but that fell away quickly with high-speed highway driving. We suspect EVs might use less “juice” being driven around town as was the case with the test car before we got hold of it.


We chickened out with about 120km remaining before recharging after having driven about 300km. All things considered you could live with a 400-450km range such that the MG4 Essence 77 provides.


The 64 also delivers in performance terms despite a 40kW and 100Nm deficit compared with the 77 which is 80kg heavier. From the driver’s seat the 64 feels pretty much the same as the 77 most of the time.


But the 64 is a different ballgame in range terms and would test our resolve to saving the planet through driving and living with an EV.


MG claims it will do 450km between recharging a figure we suspect was plucked out of thin air. Like the 77, it used electricity at an average of 18.6kWh/100km (real-world) and when you do the maths it equates to a bit over 330km on a full charge which is what we achieved.


Extrapolate that to daily driving and it’s all good for metro use, no good it you have a 100km each way daily commute to work because you will have to fully recharge it every day which is not only annoying and inconvenient but costly.


We can’t imagine what the small battery MG 4 51 would be like…


Having said that, the fast-charging appliance at the local shopping centre we used to “fill” the MG 4s cranks out 50kW and replenished the cars relatively quickly in 30-40 minutes, but neither was fully depleted.


Moving on to dynamics and we were surprised at how wieldy the MG 4 is across the dynamic spectrum. It has sharp and communicative steering, a small turning circle, well damped ride, tenacious cornering, good tyre grip and powerful brakes enhanced with a one pedal drive function.


Despite tipping the scale at 1650+kg, the two MG 4s were fun to drive across a range of environments never putting a wheel out of place, tracking true over bumpy roads and isolating the rash of potholes peppering our local roads.


There is no doubt making the MG 4 rear-wheel drive was a stroke of genius from the maker, SAIC and is a worthy point to consider with the EV you might fancy.


Both cars were the higher Essence grade which brings generous levels of standard kit inside and outside accentuated by funky aero covers to the wheels and a twin blade aerofoil atop the tailgate.


They have a full range of safety features and in creature comfort terms stack up pretty well with a six-speaker audio delivering decent tones, efficient climate control, heated steering wheel and exterior mirrors, well bolstered seats and a V2L charging facility for when you go camping.

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