It’s all down to striking design and leading-edge aerodynamics, says the Chinese manufacturer of the latest MG4 electric vehicle.that uses the innovative new Modular Scalable Platform that will underpin a new generation of MG EVs.

Featuring rear-wheel drive, 50:50 weight distribution and thin battery technology, the MG4 was designed in London and is put together in state-of-the-art plants in several countries.

The result is a hatchback that reflects the sporting tradition of the original post-war MGs and points the way for affordable versatile zero emission electric vehicles of the future.
For the present, the MG4 comes in five variants, starting with the Excite 51 from $38,990, plus on-road costs. Next is the Excite 64 ($44,990), Essence 64 ($47,990) and Essence 77 ($55,990).

Range is related to battery capacities – 51 kWh, 64 kWh, or 77 kWh – of up to 350 km, 435-450 km and 530 km, respectively. On test was the MG4 Essence 64 at $47,990, plus ORCs. All carry the MG trademark seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty for body and battery.

The MG4, with its sleek curves and sharp crease lines, pays homage to the sheet metal press responsible for shaping the body. Then there’s the paintwork, with the test car’s Volcano Orange duco with two-tone black roof ($700 option), plus twin roof- mounted rear spoilers turning heads among a number of appreciative onlookers.

Up front, as with many EVs these days, there is no radiator grille: just smooth lines down to a lower active air intake shutter grille. The car rolls on 18-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels with aero covers, while a new SAIC LED distinctive rear light design incorporates its own unique artwork.

Limited to four occupants, the small hatch does not skimp on space. Shoulder and headroom are good, rear seat leg room adequate. Missing is a foldaway centre armrest.
Comfortable synthetic leather seats with contrasting cloth inserts lead the way for minimalist surroundings.

Focus of cabin controls is the floating centre consul with rotary gear selector and electronic parking brake switch. The boot takes 350 litres of cargo with the rear seat backs in position. Folded flat 1177 litres can be accommodated. Versatility comes with a two-level floor.

MG iSmart connection comes courtesy of dual screens – a 7-inch driver display and 10.25 floating touchscreen. Voice connection capability is standard on Essence, as is six-speaker 3-D audio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

All-electric MG4 51KWh Excite retail price in Australia is $38,990 plus on-road costs*with deliveries to start in August.

Satellite navigation is included, along with 360-degree parking cameras, wireless phone charging and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Chinese puzzle? Sadly, some of the system operations are counter intuitive. For example, the predominantly on-screen climate air-con and audio controls win no Oscars for convenience – too distracting to operate while driving.

The MG4 Essence on test was fitted with a 180kW electric motor feeding the rear wheels from a 64kWh battery. Dishing up a driving range of close to 435 kilometres, this depends on driving style and road conditions.

The Essence is fitted with six airbags and makes use of a comprehensive MG Pilot package of features including active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, intelligent speed limit assist with traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist and departure warning, driver attention alert and intelligent high beam assist.

I quickly became used to the buzz of ‘leaving the blocks’ – and internal combustion engine powered rivals at the lights – and the advanced MG4 platform offering great driver engagement with excellent roadholding, the latter, to a great extent, due to the car’s 50:50 weight distribution.

As you can imagine larger road surface blemishes do present a challenge to the suspension but taken carefully should not add too much trouble to the comfort of passengers.

As far as charging the batteries is concerned, on fast DC the Essence 64 was topped up from 51 per cent to 93 pc in 40 minutes for just over seven bucks, while the slow plug-in household option scraped up 15 per cent in two hours. The recommended charging limit is 80pc.

Buy a special cable and small household appliances can be run from the car’s battery.

As an introduction to electric vehicles the MG4 is close to the top of the heap. However, the mini models are breeding like rabbits, so the price might hold back some sales in the form of cheaper rivals.

Looks: 9/10
Performance: 7/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst: 7/10
Practicality: 5/10
Comfort: 6/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 7/10


MG4 Excite 51 $38,990
MG4 Excite 64 $44,990
MG4 Essence 64 $47,990
MG Essence 77 $55,990
MG X-Power $59,990
Note: these prices do not include government of dealer delivery charges. Contact your MG local dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (MG4 64 Electric, single-speed automatic, RWD, Hatchback)

Battery Capacity: 64 kWh
Configuration: One 180 kW motor, rear
Maximum power: 150 kW
Maximum torque: 250 Nm
Fuel: Electric
Range: Up to 435 km claimed by the maker
Claimed energy efficiency: 14.3 kWh / 100km

DRIVELINE: Single gear, RWD

Length: 4287 mm
Wheelbase: 2705 mm
Width: 2060 mm
Height: 1516 mm
Turning circle: 10.6 m
Kerb weight: 1672 kg

Front: Ventilated disc
Back: Disc

Seven years / unlimited kilometres (body and battery)

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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