Could this longer-range entry to the exciting new MG 4 range be the best value of the lot? Glenn Butler finds out.
- An interesting and affordable EV
- Easy to drive, and fun too
- Spacious for such a small car
- Equipment list can’t match its rivals
- Infotainment system is glitchy
- Some active safety features missing
Think of the MG 4 as the Toyota Corolla of EVs.
The MG 4 electric hatchback is offered in five specification levels, with pricing ranging from a razor-sharp $38,990 plus on-road costs for the entry-level MG 4 Excite 51 to $59,990 for the high-performance MG 4 XPower flagship.
For those unfamiliar with the MG 4, it is a rear-wheel-drive electric hatchback roughly the same size as a Corolla. It has five seats inside and a decent-sized boot.
It’s also one of a growing range of sub-$50K pure-electric vehicles coming predominantly from China. In the last few months, we’ve not only welcomed the new MG 4 to Australian shores, the GWM Ora and the BYD Dolphin have beached too.
How much does the MG 4 cost in Australia?
The MG 4 Excite 64 we’re testing here is nearer the bottom of the range and costs $44,990 plus on-road costs (ORCs). The only variant cheaper than the Excite 64 is the Excite 51, which as the name suggests has a 51kWh battery instead of a 64kWh (total capacity, or 62.1kWh usable) unit.
The bigger battery adds $6000 to the price, yet brings a bigger electric motor (150kW v 125kW), a longer touring range (450km v 350km) and faster charging capabilities (140kW v 88kW).
Standard features on both Excite models include 17-inch alloy wheels with Continental tyres, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four speakers, a rear-view camera with rear parking sensors, fabric seat upholstery, and safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
|2024 MG 4 Excite 64
|$44,990 plus on-road costs
|Colour of test car
|Metallic paint – $700
|Price as tested
|$45,690 plus on-road costs
|GWM Ora | BYD Dolphin | Toyota Corolla
How much space does the MG 4 have inside?
The MG 4’s cabin makes a very strong first impression with its practical yet minimalist layout. Apart from the rather important steering wheel, there are two digital screens – a 7.0-inch screen for the driver and a 10.25-inch central touchscreen for infotainment, the latter with a few hardcoded buttons for adjusting volume, powering the climate control and demisting windows.
The MG 4 Excite 64 has a large phone tray (but no wireless charge pad) immediately below the screen that also houses the chrome rotary transmission selector and electric park brake.
Single-zone climate control works well enough, but there are no air vents for back-seat passengers, nor is there a fold-down centre armrest, seatback pockets or cupholders of any kind. What occupants do get is a very roomy rear with good head room and leg room, and space under the front seats for feet.
The MG’s boot has a capacity of 363 litres, which is larger than its EV hatchback rivals. It’s a decent-sized boot with lights and a single shopping bag hook, but there are no tie-down points. The back seats fold 60/40 to liberate a total of 1177L, although the resulting cargo floor is not totally flat.
|2024 MG 4 Excite 64
|363L seats up
1177L seats folded
Does the MG 4 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
The MG 4 Excite has a centrally mounted 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen paired with a steering-column-mounted 7.0-inch driver instrument display. Standard features include FM and digital radio (but no AM), wired smartphone mirroring (via the USB-A port), and access to various car information.
Get a great deal today
Interested in this car? Provide your details and we’ll connect you to a member of the Drive team.
MG 4 Excite variants have a somewhat disappointing four-speaker sound system, whereas the more expensive Essence gets a six-speaker system, which really should be on all MG 4s given that they start at mid-$40K on the road. Satellite navigation is not part of the system, either, which means you’re reliant on being able to access Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is not always a given.
The MG 4’s infotainment system – while better looking and easier to use than older versions found in MG SUVs – still has its problems. Even though it has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it sometimes refused to connect outright and was also glitchy at times when it did connect.
We experienced “Spotify not working” errors, glacially slow map screens, and a number of one-way phone calls where the recipient could not hear us.
Front-seat occupants get a USB-A and USB-C port, whereas back-seaters make do with one USB-A port.
A remote connectivity app called iSmart allows owners to check charge status and vehicle location, and pre-warm or pre-cool the cabin remotely. The Essence model gets a more advanced version of this system; the Excite makes do with iSmart ‘Lite’.
The MG 4 earned five stars from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) earlier this year based on testing conducted last year by ANCAP’s European counterpart Euro NCAP.
It earned scores of 83 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection, 75 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 81 per cent for safety assist crash-avoidance technology.
What safety technology does the MG 4 have?
Standard safety technology includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, lane-following assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and traffic sign recognition.
Two items missing from the MG 4 Excite 64 are blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. If these systems are important to you, then they are equipped on the $3000 more expensive Essence grade. Both the cheaper BYD Dolphin and similarly priced GWM Ora include both those safety systems as standard.
A couple of the MG 4’s advanced safety systems need improvement, namely the lane-following system and the adaptive cruise control.
The lane-following assist system doesn’t smoothly follow the lane as its name implies. Instead, it seems to wander between the lane markings as though constantly hunting for the middle.
The adaptive cruise control also seems to drop from the programmed speed in gentle bends over-cautiously, and I experienced a couple of complete dropouts over highway undulations.
Also, the controls for the standard adaptive cruise control are a little counterintuitive: short-press to jump in fives, long-press to jump rapidly in singles. Owners will get used to this, but it doesn’t make exact adjustments easy.
The MG’s traffic sign recognition is well calibrated to assist rather than annoy.
How much does the MG 4 cost to maintain?
The MG 4 is covered by a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, as is its battery pack. Servicing intervals are 24 months or 40,000km, whichever comes first.
The first three services cost $296, $907 and $296 respectively, averaging out at $249.80 per year. That’s reasonable, but not a match for the GWM Ora, which costs $99 per year.
Comprehensive insurance for the MG 4 will cost $2004 per year if our sample quote from one of Australia’s biggest insurers is accurate. That’s a fair whack more than a similarly sized ICE vehicle, but typical for an EV.
Our quote assumes a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance
|2024 MG 4 Excite 64
|Seven years, unlimited km
|Seven years, unlimited km
|24 months or 40,000km
|$296 (2 years)
$1203 (4 years)
$1499 (6 years)
Is the MG 4 energy-efficient?
The MG 4 Excite 64 has a 64kWh battery (62.1kWh usable capacity) and a 150kW/250Nm motor driving the rear wheels. MG claims the Excite 64 has a driving range of 450km.
During our test, we averaged 15.8 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres over city and country driving, dropping as low as 12.8kWh/100km for one predominantly 80km/h motorway commute.
The MG 4 has proper one-pedal driving that maximises energy recuperation and allows you to bring the car to a stop without using the brake pedal.
MG says it can charge at speeds up to 140kW on a DC outlet, and can re-energise from 10–80 per cent charge in 28 minutes. During our testing, we saw 144kW for brief periods, which tailed off considerably above 75 per cent to less than 40kW.
My learned colleague Alex Misoyannis conducted an extensive recharging test on an MG 4 Essence 64 and noted that it maintains the maximum charge rate of 140kW, or close to it from 10 to 50 per cent, after which it progressively tails off, falling as low as 13kW for the home stretch at 95 per cent.
Conversely, plugging into a 22kW AC charger yielded a real-world glacial 5.4kW down the cable instead of MG’s claimed 6.6kW. That feels painfully slow if you’re sitting in the car at the time, but if you can leave it and get on with your life, then at least it’s quicker than charging off a domestic plug at home.
|Energy cons. (claimed)
|Energy cons. (on test)
|Driving range claim (WLTP)
|Charge time (11kW)
|Charge time (50kW)
|1h (claimed, 10-80%)
|Charge time (85kW max rate)
|28min (claimed 10-80%)
What is the MG 4 like to drive?
My MG 4 test week coincided with a three-way comparison involving the GWM Ora and BYD Dolphin, both of which provided a wonderful competitive landscape for evaluating the MG 4’s on-road abilities.
Of these three cars, the MG 4 is the most enjoyable to drive and the most refined. The powertrain is muscular and generous, and never afraid to accelerate heartily – remember, this is a Corolla-sized car with 150kW, which is about 35 per cent more power than the actual Corolla, so it should be strong.
Its rear-drive chassis is clearly evident in the way it drives. There’s an element of sportiness and spirit to its demeanour not found in its two front-drive rivals. Its suspension also strikes a very good balance between occupant comfort and roadholding, and does a great job taking the edge off rougher roads.
One trade-off seems to be an amount of rumble and drone from the tyres and suspension, which suggests MG could have done with more sound deadening to reduce the noise invasion. But that statement needs to be kept in perspective. This is still an EV, so its cabin is inherently quieter than the equivalent petrol hatchback.
Equally, while some outlets are calling the 150kW MG 4 a pseudo hot hatch, it’s not. The MG 4’s chassis does not have the innate balance or the agility of a sports hatchback. When driven enthusiastically, its limits are quickly found.
The MG 4’s suspension is not particularly skilled at handling bumps or undulations in corners when the driver is hustling. Instead, the MG 4’s rear shows a potential for roll oversteer and can also buck like a bronco if provoked. But again, please keep those observations in perspective; they apply only when the car’s dynamic limits are explored, and will not be an issue in everyday driving.
I have yet to drive the real MG 4 hot hatch, the XPower, which has a different suspension tune intended for high-pressure situations. If any MG 4 deserves to be called a hot hatch, then the XPower is the most likely.
|2024 MG 4 Excite 64
|Single electric motor
|Spare tyre type
|Tyre repair kit
The MG 4 is a significant step forward for the brand, proving that the modern-day MG is maturing nicely and will be an even greater force in the future. At its core, the MG 4 provides affordable and economical motoring ideally suited to the urban environment.
Its key weaknesses are the flawed infotainment system, a noisy ride, and poor practicality in the back seat and boot. Some active safety systems are missing and a couple of others need improvement.
We’ll leave it to you to judge how important those issues are in your motoring life. If they’re of no concern, then the MG 4 Excite 64 is one of the best EV buys under $50K today, although it does not have an equipment list as long as the (marginally cheaper) BYD Dolphin.
For our money, though, we’d strongly consider stepping up to the Essence 64, which brings quite a long list of additional equipment (and safety tech) for the price.
How do I buy an MG 4 – next steps?
As I said above, the Essence 64 is the sweet spot in the MG 4 range, but the Excite 64 is a good alternative if your budget can’t stretch that far. In fact, even the Excite 51 is good value, although the extra power and driving range are all worthwhile.
We’re told wait times are around a month for most grades and colours in the range. However, we’ve previously been advised to contact a dealer for “specific delivery times associated with individual specifications and battery pack configurations”.
To stay up to date with our latest MG 4 news, click here.