The Tesla Model 3 was supposed to be the ‘every man and woman’ EV.
However, considering the average new car sale price in Australia is $50,161 AUD as of February 2023 and a base Model 3 is $61,900 AUD - clearly, it’s not a car most can afford.
The MG4 however, coming in at $38,990 AUD, deserves a standing ovation - achieving arguably for the first time a true EV for the masses.
It’s a refined product in a family sized package, with good performance and driving dynamics, decent range across the entire line-up, and an affordable new car price tag.
Today we are testing the cheapest MG4, the MG4 Excite 51, to see whether it’s worth entering the MG4 ecosystem even with the cheapest MG4.
Is it perfect? No. But is it the best car we’ve ever seen from MG? Absolutely.
How much does the MG4 cost?
The MG4 range has been diversified, incorporating various battery options and trim levels. Starting with the MG4 Excite 51, priced at $38,990 (before on-road charges), this variant houses a 51kWh battery, paired with a 125kW motor, boasting a range of 350km as per WLTP standards.
The next tier is the MG4 Excite 64, retailing at $44,990 (exclusive of on-road fees), and equipped with a 64kWh battery and a 150kW motor. This combination offers a travel range of up to 450km.
The MG4 Essence 64, available for $47,990 prior to added costs, maintains its 64kWh battery but brings a slightly trimmed range of 435km, paired with its 150kW motor.
The MG4 Essence 77, priced at $55,990 before additional charges, incorporates a 77kWh battery, bolstered by a 180kW motor, and is capable of a 530km range.
Lastly, the newly introduced MG4 XPOWER, priced at $59,990 plus on-road costs, showcases a 64kWh battery with an all-wheel-drive dual-motor system generating a total of 320kW. This combination yields a range of 385km and a rapid 0-100km/h acceleration in 3.8 seconds.
For context in the Australian market, the MG4 holds a competitive position, with the BYD Dolphin as a contender priced at $38,890 before on-road costs. The Dolphin, however, offers a slightly smaller battery, with consequently reduced power and range capabilities.
What’s the interior and connectivity like of the MG4?
The MG4 has a very functional interior, and it certainly doesn’t seek to instantly wow you.
It’s clearly designed with functionality at the forefront rather than beautiful aesthetics.
Which is exactly what I love.
Let’s get the bad out of the way; it’s really dark in the interior.
It’s what we describe as a ‘German Rainbow’, where it is black trim, on black trim, on black trim.
Personally, I prefer this approach over faux carbon fibre used everywhere - similar to that seen in the recently facelifted Mazda2 - and more importantly, many of the interior surfaces are nice soft touch materials.
Back to functionality, even in this base model MG4 Excite 51, the practicality is off the charts for such a small car.
With no transmission tunnel, there is plenty of open storage space between the driver and passenger, with a neat cover when not in use.
In front is a couple of cupholders, a USB-A port and USB-C port, and a 12v socket.
Above that is a well designed ledge that houses the rotary dial transmission selector, and a storage space for your phone (which is a wireless charger in higher trims).
The infotainment display is 10.25” unit that is really snappy and responsive, with great viewing angles, graphics and definition.
Unfortunately though, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both wired (no matter what grade you opt for).
MG still refuses to place dedicated air-conditioning controls in the cabin, which is a shame, as accessing the air conditioning controls in the infotainment display whilst on the move is mildly inconvenient at best, or distracting at worst.
The buttons you do get however are not simply membrane switches that feel terrible to touch, but rather tactile switches only really seen in Audi’s or the MG4’s sibling, the MG5.
In front of the driver is a 7” digital instrument cluster, that again is no frills but shows all the information you need in a very smart looking display.
MG has had a reputation for faux leather seats across all of their cheaper cars, some of which feel nasty to the touch.
However, thankfully, MG have opted for supportive cloth seats with blue contrasting stitching. Over a full driving day of testing, the seats remained supportive with a particularly noticeable amount of underthigh support.
The steering wheel as well is a nice leather unit. It’s got a small learning curve on how to use the unmarked buttons, but it took me all of 5 minutes of fiddling to figure it out.
It may be an odd shape for some - being what could only be described as a ‘squircle’ - however, it feels very nice to hold onto and for some spirited driving was well appreciated.
I promise you I am trying to find whatever flaws I can about the MG4, but it’s really, really hard.
What about the back seats of the MG4?
A big question we get is “should I buy this or a BYD Atto 3?”.
The honest answer is, if you need to carry adults in the back frequently, an SUV like the BYD Atto 3 or MG ZS EV is probably a better choice.
At 5’11” I have a decent amount of knee-room and head-room, but toe-room is quite compromised which could get a little uncomfortable on longer trips.
In the base model, there are also no reading lights or centre-armrest, and most of the door materials are hard scratchy plastics.
It’s also dark in the back, really dark, due to the lack of sunroof, black materials, and small rear windows.
Not to mention amenities aren’t great either, with only 1x USB-A and no air vents - though you do sit quite close to the front of the car anyway, thanks to the short body.
Still, the seats remain very supportive like up front, so occasional and shorter hops in the MG4 are going to be totally fine.
How much can fit in the boot of the MG4?
All grades except the 77kWh Long Range get a 363L boot. The 77kWh get’s a 350L boot, due to its extra battery capacity.
Although on paper that doesn’t sound like a lot, in reality, it was more than enough over our week of testing (including an obligatory Bunnings run).
You can also fold down the rear seats, but that does leave you with a rather unfortunate hump in the floor.
Unfortunately, no spare tyre - but you do get a tyre repair kit, which is common for electric cars.
What’s powering the MG4?
The MG4 is a true drivers car, which is not common in this segment.
Unlike it’s front-wheel drive competitors - the BYD Dolphin and GWM Ora - the MG4 is a rear-wheel drive platform.
Meaning, the electric motor sits at the rear of the car rather than at the front wheels.
And yes, that makes an enormous difference to how the MG4 performs versus competition.
The MG4 lineup offers a range of battery capacities to cater to varying performance and driving range needs.
Starting with the MG4 Excite 51, it’s equipped with a 51kWh battery. According to WLTP standards, this model can achieve a driving range of up to 350km. It features a rear-mounted electric motor that delivers a power output of 125kW, combined with 250Nm of torque. This combination allows the car to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a recorded time of 7.7 seconds.
The Excite 64 and Essence 64 models bring more power with their rear motor, generating 150kW and 250Nm of torque. They house a 64kWh battery, resulting in a 450km (for the Excite) and 435km (for the Essence) driving range as per WLTP ratings. However, the acceleration time from 0-100km/h for these models is slightly more at 7.9 seconds, attributed to the heftier battery.
The Long Range 77 version incorporates a more robust 77kWh battery, projecting a WLTP rated range of 530km. In terms of power, this model offers 180kW and 350Nm of torque, allowing it to sprint from 0-100km/h in a notable 6.5 seconds.
The MG4 XPOWER, recently introduced to Australia, boasts an all-wheel-drive dual motor system, producing a combined 320kW and 600Nm of torque. However, it is fitted with a 64kWh battery, providing a claimed 385km WLTP range from its battery. Impressively, it accelerates from 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.8 seconds.
MG4 Long Range 77 (RWD): 77kWh battery, 530km range, 180kW/350Nm, 0-100km/h in 6.5s.
MG4 XDRIVE (AWD): Dual-motor with a combined 320kW (Front: 150kW, Rear: 170kW) and 600Nm, 385km WLTP range, 0-100km/h in 3.8s.
How does the MG4 drive?
Using the keyless entry and go feature, you plop yourself into the drivers seat - very quickly realising 2 things:
You are in a relatively low car; and
There is no engine start/stop button.
Instead, you simply put your foot on the brake pedal and the MG4’s screens light up and indicate it’s ready to go.
To turn off the car, you simply get out and lock it.
It’s not a flawless system, though, with numerous occasions of having to repeatedly press the brake pedal to engage the gear until it actually worked.
It only took 1 or 2 attempts to get right, but it was mildly annoying nonetheless.
Still, that doesn’t describe the way the MG4 drives - instead, that goes to the phrase “holy $h*t”.
Even in this base model trim, the MG4 accelerates effortlessly and never loses traction. That’s no small feat in an electric car, where instant torque is often the catalyst of screeching tyres.
All that really means is that MG have done a phenomenal job at tuning power delivery.
125kW and 250Nm might not sound like a lot of power, but in our 0-100km/h test of the MG4 51 Excite, we clocked an impressive 7.95 seconds with two of us in the car.
What really impresses about the MG4, is just how amazing the driving dynamics are. It feels more German than anything I’ve felt out of China, ever.
On backroads, the MG4 is a tonne of fun (literally), with superb handling characteristics, a well tuned steering rack and comfortable enough suspension setup.
Often I found myself well above what I thought I was traveling at, because the refinement within the interior is so good that wind or road noise hardly entered the cabin.
It’s by no means pin-drop silent, but for a ‘cheap’ EV it deserves a round of applause.
Although never bothersome, the stiffer suspension setup - while great at higher speeds and around corners - is noticeably more rough at lower speeds, although that’s something even the $300,000 BMW XM struggles with.
When pushed really hard, the MG4 can oversteer just a little - but the traction control system always cut in to make sure things didn’t go aray. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s where it has it’s cheap EV brethren beat - the RWD architecture works its magic.
Even efficiency, something I was worried about with the smaller 51kWh battery pack, is great. On a mix of highway and urban driving, I was averaging about 14.8kW/100km, which means the 350km range claim is about on the money.
If it were me personally, however, I would opt for the 64kWh Excite variant as the 450km of range is always more useful than the 350km, which required me to charge the car quite frequently.
Not to mention, the 51kWh battery only provides a maximum charging rate of 88kW, which is far slower than the larger batteries across the range which offer 140kW charging.
Still, the way this base model MG4 performs is so good that it ruins a lot of other cheap EVs for me. Well played, MG.
What are the MG4’s specs?
The new MG4 series offers a selection of vehicles, each packed with unique features and specifications catering to various preferences. Let's delve into the specifics of each model.
MG4 Excite 51 Features:
Display: 7.0-inch digital dashboard and a 10.25-inch touchscreen display.
Audio: 4-speaker system, compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Battery: 64kWh capacity, charging peaks at 140kW, and 26-minute charge time (from 10% to 80%) using a 150kW charger.
Additional: Launch control and advanced tech for improved cornering.
Summary of MG4 Models:
MG4 Excite 51 - Basic model with a host of standard features and a 51kWh battery.
MG4 Excite 64 - Similar to the Excite 51 but with a 64kWh battery.
MG4 Essence 64 - An advanced variant with more features and a 64kWh battery.
MG4 Long Range 77 - Top-tier with a 77kWh battery.
MG4 XPOWER - Sport variant, with high-end performance features and a 64kWh battery.
Is the MG4 Safe?
Yes, the MG4 is safe.
It achieved a 5 star ANCAP safety rating under the stricter “2020-2022 criteria”, with the following key insights:
Collision Avoidance: The MG4 Electric offers vital safety technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active lane assistance, and fatigue monitoring. In critical situations, like turning before an oncoming car, the AEB system particularly excels. However, there's variation in its performance in pedestrian scenarios, and the vehicle doesn't possess the AEB Backover functionality for reverse detection.
Lane Maintenance: The lane support system exhibits 'Good' performance in standard lane assist situations and secures an 'Adequate' score in emergency lane interventions.
Vehicle Integrity: Impressive results were observed in side impact and oblique pole tests, reflecting the car's robust design. Nevertheless, mixed outcomes were recorded in frontal collision evaluations, with some concerns surrounding the frontal offset tests.
Additional Safety Measures: Despite its many attributes, the car lacks a central airbag, impacting its rating in certain scenarios. However, it scores well in child safety, ensuring protection during front and side collisions.
Safety Features Breakdown:
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Pedestrian and cyclist detection
Lane departure alerts and lane-keeping assistance
Adaptive cruise control with halt/restart feature
Front and rear parking sensors
Tyre health monitoring
Safety reminders for all seat belts
ISOFIX points for child seats on outer rear seats
A collection of six airbags: front, side, and full-length curtain
MG4 Essence Exclusive Features:
Rear traffic alert system
For those considering an upgrade, the Essence model offers enhanced safety features that might tip the balance.
How much can the MG4 tow?
The MG4 can tow 500kg.
How much does the MG4 cost to own?
The MG4 comes with a 7 year, unlimited kilometer warranty.
The vehicle's service schedule stands out from the norm. Unlike the conventional 12 months/15,000km timeline that most petrol vehicles adhere to, the MG 4 requires a check-in every two years or after covering 40,000km.
For those keen on understanding the long-term ownership costs:
Services labeled as odd in the logbook (like the first and third) come with a fee of $296.
Conversely, the even-labeled services (such as the second and fourth) have a higher charge of $907.
This means that over the span of four years or 80,000km, a total cost of approximately $1203 would be incurred for regular maintenance.
1st Service (2 years/40,000km): $296
2nd Service (4 years/80,000km): $907
Total for 4 years/80,000km: $1203
What's CarSauce's take on the MG4?
For us, the MG4 is shaping up to be the car to beat this year.
It offers a nice look, practical and comfortable interior, fantastic driving dynamics and good electric car performance (i.e. range, charging, etc.)
It’s not perfect, with some annoying software glitches we experienced during our time of testing, but on the whole it’s an electric car from MG that’s almost impossible to fault.
You can let us know what you think about the MG4 in the comments section below!
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.