500 Kilometre Road Rest & Review

MG 4: Does it live up to the hype?

Review model: MG 4 Excite 51
MG4 Sideview, Brixton Blue
MG 4 in profile (image: evdb.nz)

The MG 4 arrived in New Zealand in August 2023. By year’s end it was the third best-selling EV for the entire year. It scooped multiple awards in multiple countries.

What is so special about this electric car?

The 4 is a design departure from MG’s existing EV, the ZS (SUV). Instead of retrofitting a combustion vehicle with a battery, the MG 4 is entirely new. It’s built on SAIC Motor’s Modular Scalable Platform (MSP)—a ‘skateboard’ comprising battery + drivetrain.

This allows multiple battery options without compromising shape and structure.

Three battery options (51 kWh / 64 kWh / 77 kWh) dictate the amount of range available. Trim levels are Excite (basic) and Essence (the fancy stuff).

The Look and Feel

mg 4 front mount
MG 4 in Brixton Blue (image evdb.nz)

The MG 4 is a striking hatchback, with sporty lines up front and a hint of a spoiler at the rear.

Sure, what’s beautiful to some is hideous to others. But the consensus is that this is a good-looking vehicle.

Eyecatching colours are available (Brixton Blue and Volcano Orange) along with traditional vanilla whites and greys.

So how many people bought the Volcano Orange?

15% of buyers. Boring traffic queues won’t look the same again.

Like many new EVs, there is no start button. Hop in the car, and it starts. A simple dial rotation (+ foot on the brake), and you’re ready to go.

The artificial engine noise is an inoffensive purring grumble (which tapers off at 30 km/h).

After you finish your ride, the car is still ‘on’ when you hop out (it feels weird), but it powers down when you lock it.

The Heart of the Machine: Performance and Handling

Motor and powertrain

The MG 4 is one of the few hatchbacks with Rear Wheel Drive. Like most EVs, it’s peppy – 0-100 km/h in around 7 seconds (7.7s for the 51, 7.2s for the 64, 6.5s for the long range 77).

There’s plenty of smooth, silent power when you need it; one of the driving pleasures of full-electric power.

On the Road

mg 4 front view
(image evdb.nz)

Smooth, responsive, solid.

The MG 4 offers a selection of driving modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport, and as a special bonus, Custom.

Regenerative braking can be customised (1 / 2 / 3 / Auto). The regen is smooth.

One Pedal Drive? Yes

There’s a switch on the infotainment screen. NOTE: One pedal drive can only be engaged when the battery is under 85-90% (ish). Otherwise, the message “unavailable, low charge power” appears.

EVs can’t perform any regen when a battery is really full (nowhere to store the extra electricity).

mg 4 drive mode
Setup a custom drive mode. (image evdb.nz)

Tip: Customise the steering feel.

Set the steering feel (light / normal /heavy) and make this part of the Custom driving mode.

The car is a pleasure to drive. Its firm-ish suspension, RWD, and zip factor make you feel 100% in control and nicely planted on the road.

Tip: Set custom physical buttons

Customise the two steering wheel buttons. I set one to Drive Mode and the other to the regen. Why? I like more automatic regen in urban and more of a manual approach on the open road.

Interior, comfort, and utility

mg4 interior door
Rear passenger door with blue threading (image evdb.nz)

Do you have pre-conceived ideas about certain brands or country or origin? We probably all do.

So I was probably expecting a fairly rough interior (I don’t quite no why).

The interior surprised me. Subtly minimal without seeming cheap.

An infotainment screen + digital dash cluster, and a series of physical buttons (aircon / volume).

Not everybody likes a purely tablet-only dashboard (but maybe it’s whatever you get used to).

The dash screens are busy (visual noise). They could do with some design savvy. The infotainment had all the options, but – again – there’s room for user experience improvements.

Untitled design 1
The dash setup (left). Main driving cluster (right) — too much informational clutter? (image evdb.nz)

Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but it took a bit to get CarPlay working. The MG seemed fussy about the lightning cable used (a more recent cable did the trick).

Interior space – plenty of room

The front doors have a slightly heavy feel to them, and there’s a bit of distance from the outside to the seat (28 cm). Yes, I measured it.

“I mean there’s actually a lot of room back here”
— biggish guy sitting in the back seat.

The back seats have loads of room (height and length).

Boot space? This is a hatchback, not an SUV. Boot space (363 L) is similar to a 2018+ Nissan Leaf. Seats down is 1177 Litres (but 1165 in the big battery variants).

Untitled design 2
Seats down (left). Throwing a 240L wheelie bin into the boot (right). Image, evdb.nz

Range and charging

MG 4s have a range of battery options. The Excite 51 has a 51 kWh LFP battery, while other variants have NMC batteries.

What’s the difference between LFP and NMC?

Different battery chemistries have pros and cons. LFP (lithium ferrophospate) is harder wearing but has less energy density. NMC has more energy density (more capacity in less space).

That’s why longer-range EVs tend to use NMC.

Some people choose an LFP battery because there’s no fuss about charging it to 100% (instead of 80%), and there are no concerns about degradation.

mg 4 badge
Yes. It’s electric. (image evdb.nz)

Maximum AC charging speed is 6.6 kW (you’ll need a home charger to get this speed – all cars come with standard 3-pin trickle chargers). The Long Range MG 4 can do 11 kW if you can access 3-phase power.

Fast charging

mg 4 fast charging dc
Fast charging the MG 4. Charge port at rear left of car (image, evdb.nz)

The base level Excite 51 has a lower maximum charging speed (88 kW) than the other variants. It will only reach this speed when the battery is around 20%-30% full. Other variants can get up to 140 kW.

How long to charge the Excite 51?

It took 31 minutes to charge from 24% to 80%. Like most other EVs, it will get slower (particularly past the 80% mark).

Vehicle-to-Load: Take your air fryer on your next trip

All MG 4s have V2L functionality (adaptor plug required—$280 from MG). This feature is handy if you have a power cut at home. It’s also handy if you throw an e-bike in the back, head off for a distant ride (and find the e-bike only has 10% charge).

mg 4 with v2l
Charging an e-bike directly from the MG 4 (image evdb.nz)

How do I use V2L on an MG 4?

  • Plug in the adaptor plug into the charging socket, and plug your appliance into that.
  • Go back into the car, and go to the charging section on the infotainment screen.
  • There is a button called discharge. Push this, and you’re away.

Efficiency and running cost: Pretty good

Round-town driving is around 14ish kWh / 100 km (7 km per kWh), and open road driving is more like 16ish kWh / 100 km. It’s not bad at all.

In fact, if you maintain 14.5 kWh / 100 km, you will match the Excite 51’s WLTP range estimate of 350 km.

It’s not as efficient as the Hyundais (IONIQ, Kona, IONIQ 6), but it’s comparable to other EVs of a similar size.

Competition and market comparison

There’s a number of competing hatchbacks: the Nissan Leaf, BYD Dolphin, GWM Ora – and possibly, the smaller-sized Peugeot e208.

The MG 4 competes well on price, and its range of battery and trim options opens up the possibilities.

The Verdict

The nonconformist in me wanted to find some glaring issues with the car.

After three weeks of daily driving, I can confirm that the MG 4 is a smooth and comfortable ride, and its popularity is justified.

It’s nimble, easy-to-park (tight turning circle), and roomy enough for a small family (note that two Isofix points are available for child seats in the back).

The Ups

  • Impressive back seat space.
  • Excellent driving experience.
  • Competitive pricing.
  • Safety system beeps are present when they need to be (and customisable) and blessedly silent when they don’t.
  • Good selection of different variants with different range options (350 km range up to 530 km)

The Niggles

  • The primary dashboard screen could use a do-up. More design, less information.
  • So could the infotainment screen.
  • I couldn’t fit my 1-litre water bottle in the front-door pocket (boohoo, poor me).
  • Adaptive cruise control could do with some slight improvement for our curvaceous NZ roads.

Price: Starting from $46,990.

See up-to-date MG 4 price and compare specs here

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