While MG (Morris Garages), the iconic post-war British sports car maker, may have been
mopped up by SAIC, China’s largest automobile manufacturer, it has not completely
severed ties with the Old Country.
The latest MG offering to come from SAIC, formerly the Shanghai Automotive Industry
Corporation, the MG4 all-electric hatchback, was designed at the company’s London
studio in Marylebone.
Furthermore, the vehicle sparks technological innovation traditionally found in sports cars
from the early days. These include multi-mode driving and braking, as well as MG Pilot
Driver Safety Technology and vehicle-to-load function (V2L) enabling the vehicle to
operate exterior equipment.
The MG4 EV also introduces the innovative new Modular Scalable Platform that will
underpin a new generation of MGs, featuring rear-wheel drive, 50:50 weight distribution
and thin battery technology.
Four variants – two Excites, an Essence and Essence (Long Range) – are on sale Down
Under, with battery capacities from 51 kWh, 64 kWh to 77 kWh. Ranges are claimed to
vary up to 530 kilometres.
Not that there is too much of a price to pay for the advanced equipment. The new MG4
turns out to be one of the cheapest EVs on the Aussie market.
The entry level MG4 Excite is priced from just $38,990, plus on-road costs, $44,990 for the
64 kWh Excite, $47,990 the 64 kWh Essence and $55,990 for the 77 kWh Essence.
Meanwhile, orders are now being taken for the new dual-motor, all-wheel drive MG4
XPower, producing 320 kW and 600 Nm of torque to go on sale this year. Priced at
$59,990, plus on-road costs, the range-topping XPower MG4 EV will be the most powerful
production MG in Australia to date, capable of 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds.
The MG4 EV also carries MG’s trademark 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty as
standard. On test was the MG4 Essence 64, which sells for $47,990, plus ORCs.
Not that the MG4 styling is ‘off the planet’, but there is a whiff of ‘Thunderbirds Are Go!’ to
the twin-fin roof-mounted spoiler sticking out of the rear, a reminder of the kitsch puppet
show on kids’ black-and-white TV years ago. It incredibly became an icon.
In contrast, the rest of the car exhibits all that’s fashionable in modern car design, with a
sleek two-tone roof, active intake grille shutter – no need for ugly radiator intrusion up front
– 18-inch alloy wheels with aerodynamic cover, new LED rear light design, with distinctive
rear centre light bar, plus the aforementioned twin-aero rear spoiler.
Hidden under the surface is the future of the company’s product, with the MG4 EV being
the first to use the innovative new Modular Scalable Platform that will underpin a new
generation of MGs, featuring rear-wheel drive, 50:50 weight distribution and thin battery
Minimalist is the name of the game in the cabin, the Excite grade favouring black fabric
upholstery, the Essence, synthetic leather interior trim with contrasting cloth inserts.
Front seats and steering wheel – unusually with flat top and bottom – are heated, the driver
enjoying the benefit of six-way electrically adjustment. For some reason air-con controls
are worked via the touch screen, not the easiest to operate on the move.
The Modular Scalable Platform design creates exceptional cabin space, storage and two-
level boot floor -1177 litres with seats folded and 363 with seats in place.
The MG iSMART system integrates car, internet and communication, now with voice
activation and remote-control features on Essence models.
Interacting dual screen technology is the basis of configurable 7-inch driver display and
10.25-inch floating infotainment screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard
across the range, with six-speaker 3-D system on Essence models.
Essence models gain satellite navigation, 360-degree parking cameras, height-adjustable
loading floor, wireless phone charging and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The MG4 single electric motor, with its 64-kWh lithium-ion battery partner, is claimed to
have a combined energy consumption of 13.8 kWh / 100 km from maximum power of 150
kW and peak torque of 250 Nm. A single-speed automatic transmission sends power to
the rear wheels.
The MG Pilot is standard on all MG4 EV models. A comprehensive package of safety
equipment, it features active emergency braking with pedestrian and cycle detection,
adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, intelligent speed limit assist with traffic sign
recognition, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, driver attention alert and
intelligent high beam assist.
Essence models also have door open warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection
and lane change assist. Five-star safety is at 2022 standard.
Where’s the starter button? There isn’t one in the MG4. The vehicle systems spring to life
when the driver sits in the seat. Switch-off has its foibles needs the lock button on the key
fob to be pushed to shut things down. It’s easy to walk away from the car leaving it
The MG4 EV range is capable of up to 530 km on the WLTP cycle for 77 kWh Essence
Long Range, with 64 kWh Excite capable of 450 km and 64 kWh Essence at 435 km, 51
kWh at 350 km respectively.
The 64-kWh battery is capable of recharging at up to 140 kW. Average combined energy
consumption over a week on test was 16.2 kWh per 100 kilometres. I topped up the ‘tank’
on a public fast charger from 60 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes at a cost of $9.11.
However, this public charging facility was having App connection problems and ended up
with charging having to be switched on manually from base. A true reflection of the
development of the non-fossil fuel transport world – a long way to go.
The rotary gear selector, on the centre console, turned out to be vaguer than many of their
ilk but during repeated use, eased its way into driver acceptance. Needless to say, tyre
sound took the place of engine noise on almost all but the smoothest road surface and
regen braking literally ‘grabbed’ the attention, if not careful.
With the MG Pilot willing to assist safe driving to a high level, the lane keep assist with
departure warning tended to intrude too quickly and forcefully in an earlier drive of the MG
ZS EV. The MG4 EV appears to have it sorted.
The shopping list for electric vehicles for less than is 50 grand is quickly expanding with
the Chinese leading the race. The new MG4 puts in a strong claim for the attention.
However, buyer beware, EV infrastructure has some way to go to catch up.
AT A GLANCE
MG4 Excite 51 $38,990
MG4 Excite 64 $44,990
MG4 Essence 64 $47,990
MG4 Long Range 77 $55,990
MG4 XPower AWD $59,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local MG dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (MG4 Essence 64 EV, single-speed automatic, RWD hatch)
Single electric motor, 64 kWh lithium-ion battery
Combined energy consumption: Claimed 13.8 kWh / 100 km
Maximum Power: 150 kW
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm
Charging: 150 kW (to 80pc) 28 min
DRIVELINE: Single motor, single-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4387 mm
Wheelbase: 2705 mm
Width: 2060 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 m
Kerb mass: 1672 kg
Range: 435 km
Front: Ventilated disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres