It may boast the colour of a carnival float, but the new MG4 is set to brighten the lives of many car buyers looking to opt for electric.
Forget the pretence of MG’s English heritage; this Chinese car is a little cracker. The numbers impress, but it’s time behind the wheel that really won us over to the MG4′s appeal.
Let’s start with those numbers, though. You get a full-electric five-door hatchback with the promise of between 350km and 450km on a single charge, depending on whether you choose the 51kWh or 64kWh battery pack. It will be able to fast-charge at speeds of up to 135kW and can do 0-100km/h in under 8 seconds. Its interior is somewhere between that of a supermini and its clear target rival, the VW ID.3. However, its price is the big number that matters: starting at €27,495.
The MG4 will come in three trim levels when it lands in Ireland in the coming months – the MG4 EV Excite 51kWh Standard Range, the Excite 64kWh Long Range, and the Exclusive 64kWh
Long Range. The Excite Standard Range price is €27,495; the Excite Long Range price is €30,995 and the Exclusive Long Range price is €34,495.
To put that into perspective, the Renault Zoe EV starts at €30,295 with a range of 395km, while Peugeot’s 208 Electric supermini starts at €30,545 with a range of 361km. Yet the MG is a family hatchback, on a par with traditional Ford Focus or VW Golf, so its real rival is the Volkswagen ID.3, which starts at €35,310 with its 58kWh battery and a claimed range of 425km.
Another similarly sized rival is the Renault Megane E-Tech, but it starts at €37,495.
The MG4′s price points should be enough to pique anyone’s interest. But it’s behind the wheel that the MG proves a real surprise.
This new MG4 is a bit of a marvel, a major step up from the rest of the car firm’s offerings to date.
Our test car was the 64Kwh Exclusive Long Range version and time behind its wheel has forced us to rethink our view of MG as just a value proposition. This car has a lot more going for it than a competitive price. This an MG EV that’s fun to drive.
Under the metal is a new platform that will underpin various future models within the SAIC Group, the ultimate owners of MG.
Housed beneath the floor is a sizeable battery – developed by MG and battery cell producer CATL - powering a rear-mounted electric motor that packs enough punch to give the MG4 the pep to match its rivals. And as with all these EVs, the low centre of gravity and a 50:50 weight distribution helps deliver impressive handling. That’s not always a given in EVs, and not in MGs of late, but this one delivers. There’s very little bodyroll and the MG4 delivers impressive stability through the bends, coping well with badly surfaced back roads while cruising comfortably on national routes.
The most surprising features of this car’s driving dynamics is that subtleness on bad roads, along with a remarkably quiet cabin. MG seems to have gone to great lengths in terms of sound damping, particularly in the wheel arches, and the result is impressive: you get little of the usual tyre rumble intruding into the cabin. There are premium brands that would be proud of this library-like quietness.
This is the most entertaining MG we’ve driven in decades, a major surprise from a car company that defined itself more by price than driving performance up until now.
MG has opted for a big rotary dial to shift between drive, reverse or park, so it really is pretty much a case of jump in and go. And though the infotainment screen doesn’t look cutting edge, it’s a doddle to work your way around the menus.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen and 7-inch digital driver screen may be reminiscent of the software you used to get in a Renault a few years back. It boasts Apple CarPlay and Android-Auto compatibility.
While our test car was in the blinding Volcano Orange, the cabin is a little gloomy compared to more colourful rivals, but it’s uncluttered and for rear-seat passengers there is proper adult legroom, even if the low seating position and high floor leave you a little high-kneed, while the visibility of taller occupants is blocked by the sizeable rear pillar. The toggle switches on either spoke of the steering wheel are also a little tricky to manoeuvre.
The equipment level on this car is impressive. All models come with a coterie of driver safety assistance systems, adaptive cruise control, auto climate control, LED lights and rear parking sensors. Step up to the Exclusive versions and you get features such as Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and comfort features such as an electric driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, Sat-Nav, wireless phone charging and a Bluetooth key system.
Overall, this is a very impressive family car. Bootspace is 363 litres, rising to 1,177 litres with the back seats folded down. That’s only slightly less than what’s offered on the VW ID.3.
The MG4 is a car that should cause sleepless nights at VW head office – and any carmaker preparing to launch an EV family hatchback. It delivers as much driving fun as any of its electric rivals, but at an impressively competitive price. There’s more than the launch colour that should catch the eye of potential EV buyers.