- Big dynamic improvement over other MGs
- Wide range of battery options to suit different budgets
- Spacious and practical cabin
- Missing some features like automatic wipers
- Central touchscreen a bit fiddly to use
- Rear seat a bit sparse with no arm rest or vents
It’s here. The moment has finally arrived. For years, manufacturers and industry analysts have predicted that electric vehicles would reach price parody with similar ICE vehicles and here it is with the 2023 MG 4. Priced from $38,990 plus on-road costs, but available from a lot less than that thanks to subsidies in some states (Queenslanders are looking at a price from around $35,000 drive away), the MG 4 is not only cheaper than many petrol or hybrid competitors, but it’s also sized similarly and offers a similar amount of equipment. What’s the catch? Let’s find out if there is one.
Measuring 4,287mm long, the 2023 MG 4 is a mere 3mm longer than a Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, placing it smack bang in the hatchback segment for size. Stylistically, it’s a definite step forward for the MG brand thanks to its fresh styling that gives it a sporty attitude in the segment – it’s somewhat Euro chic as well, against cuter and brighter rivals like the BYD Dolphin.
Price & Equipment: 9/10
For now, there are four models in the 2023 MG 4 range: the entry-level Excite 51 ($38,990 plus on-road costs), the mid-spec Excite 64 ($44,990+ORC) and Essence 64 ($47,990 +ORC) and the top-spec Long Range 77 ($55,990 +ORC).
Standard equipment on the entry-level Excite 51 includes dusk-sensing automatic LED exterior lighting with LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels with aero covers, intermittent wipers, keyless entry and start, electric and heated mirrors, single-zone automatic climate control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with MG’s ‘iSmart Lite’ software, digital radio, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an electric parking brake, a leather steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch digital driver’s display, a four-speaker sound system, vehicle-to-load functionality and five driving and four regenerative braking modes (including one pedal driving).
Safety kit includes six airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, driver attention monitoring, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, intelligent speed limit assist, auto high beam, an alarm, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. The MG4 recently earned a five-star ANCAP rating.
Moving up the range, the Excite 64 adds a larger 64kWh battery for more range, and a more powerful 150kW/250Nm electric motor.
The upper-spec Essence 64 adds larger 18-inch wheels, two extra speakers, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, a six-way electric driver’s seat, synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, a wireless charger, auto-folding mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane trace assist, door open warning, a 360-degree camera, a rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming mirror, a dual-level boot floor, an active intake grille shutter, a two-tone roof and the company’s ‘iSmart’ online services, which is free for the first year and $50 annually afterwards.
Finally, the top-spec (for now) Long Range 77 shares the Essence’s equipment but adds a larger 77kWh battery and a more powerful 180kW/350Nm electric motor.
There are seven exterior colour options: ‘Dover White’, ‘Brixton Blue’, ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Camden Grey’, ‘Sterling Silver’, ‘Dynamic Red’ and ‘Volcano Orange’. Dover White is the only no-cost colour with every other colour adding a further $700 to the price. Black is the only interior trim option – we wish the lighter trim option from overseas models was available locally as it would brighten up the cabin nicely.
Within the hatchback class are quite a few rivals for the MG 4: the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Skoda Scala, Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30 all start in the $30,000-$40,000 bracket as well, while the BYD Dolphin and GWM Ora are also similarly-sized to the MG4 and are also all-electric – plus, the Cupra Born is also available from above $60,000.
Against its main rival, the BYD Dolphin, the MG 4 presents good value for money. Comparing base models – the Dolphin Dynamic versus the MG 4 Excite 51 – and the BYD offers more equipment like synthetic leather trim, a sunroof, a larger centre screen with satellite navigation and an extra airbag, the MG counters with more performance – 125kW versus 70kW – and more range, with 350km versus 340km. The MG can also be charged faster – 88kW versus 60kW – and for enthusiasts, its rear-wheel drive platform is sure to provide a sportier driving experience.
Performance & Range: 8/10
Under the body of the 2023 MG 4 are three battery options: 51kWh, 64kWh and 77kWh, which give WLTP-certified claimed ranges of 350km, 450km (Excite 64)/435km (Essence 64) and 530km respectively. Each battery size also has unique performance figures too – the 51kWh battery is mated to a 125kW/250Nm electric motor, while the 64kWh battery adds a more powerful 150kW motor and the largest 77kWh battery uses a 180kW/350Nm motor.
With a quoted 7.7-second 0-100km/h time, we predict that even the entry-level 125kW Excite 51 will offer more than enough grunt for most buyers – but for those who want more, MG provides with the 64kWh battery option adding an extra 25kW of power (even though its bigger battery actually makes it slower to hit 100km/h at 7.9 seconds) and with the 77kWh battery, even more power at 180kW for a brisk 6.5 second 0-100km/h sprint. Regardless of the drivetrain chosen, the MG 4’s performance is linear and smooth, and even at highway speeds, gives more than enough push. We can’t wait for the 300kW+ MG 4 X-Power, which reportedly sprints to 100km/h in under four seconds and is due in Australia in late 2023.
Peak charging speeds depend on which battery is chosen – using a 50kW DC fast charger, the 51kWh battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes, with the 64kWh battery taking 60 minutes and the 77kWh battery taking 75 minutes to do the same. Peak DC charging time ranges from 88kW for the 51kWh battery to 140kW for the 77kWh battery, allowing for a 26 minute 10 to 80 per cent top up using a 150kW DC fast charger. Using an AC charger, the 51kWh battery can be charged at 6.6kW and the 77kWh battery can be charged at 11kW.
While we were unable to get consistent efficiency figures on the launch due to switching between cars and different drivers, the Essence 64 that we drove back from the Southern Highlands on the launch gave a total range of around 340km after the day, which equates to energy consumption of around 19.7kWh/100km. A lot of that was highway driving and some harder driving was involved too, so more urban use will definitely improve that range figure.
Ride & Handling: 8.5/10
Based on the company’s new ‘MSP’ (Modular Scalable Platform) architecture, the 2023 MG 4 drives unlike any MG product before it. Co-developed with Idiada Automotive Technology, a European automotive engineering company, the MG4 employs tricks like multi-link rear suspension and even a 50:50-split weight distribution. Even before getting behind the wheel, MG’s efforts to make the MG4 a sportier package than anything it’s built in recent history is obvious. Has it worked?
In a lot of ways, yep, it has. Unlike a lot of EVs under $60,000, the MG 4 can be somewhat of a driver’s car thanks to its rear-wheel drive chassis, fun driving experience and far superior dynamic ability to the ZS EV. Touring through the Royal National Park on the Australian launch in the MG 4 was a lot of fun – it’s balanced, it grips well and even though the steering isn’t the last word in feel, it’s still a hoot to punt. Brake modulation is reasonable, while its ride quality is mostly pretty good too – there’s a real level of Volkswagen-like firmness and tautness to its everyday ride. When pushing it hard, you can feel its minimum 1,655kg weight but it still remains well balanced.
Unlike cars like the ZS EV and Dolphin – and the rest of the hatchback segment since the BMW 1 Series went front-wheel drive – the MG 4 is rear-wheel drive, and that only adds to the driver satisfaction from behind the wheel. There’s no torque steer that the ZS EV shows, instead, it feels quite planted and even in the wet, the power delivery is smooth. The MG 4’s regenerative braking offers four levels – from almost none to one-pedal driving – and we found them to be quite subtle, even in maximum mode.
Road noise levels are fairly well hushed for the hatchback segment, with just a bit of wind noise at highway speeds, while the MG 4’s active safety kit – grouped under the brand’s ‘MG Pilot’ naming – was also a step up on cars like the ZS EV. In particular, the active lane trace assist worked quite well at highway speeds, as did the adaptive cruise control – though the steering wheel controls to use activate it (with no markings as the same buttons control different features) were a touch frustrating to use. If you want to tow with your MG 4, it’s capable of towing a 500kg braked trailer.
Interior & Practicality: 7.5/10
As with the ride and handling, the interior of the 2023 MG 4 is unlike any other MG currently on sale – it’s much more minimalist in layout, it’s more spacious because of its new platform and it’s more modern as well thanks to higher-quality screens and new switchgear. Quality inside the MG4 is not particularly plush – the only soft points are the dashboard and arm rests – but everything feels well made and it appears that MG has gotten over its ‘cover everything with faux leather’ stage, which we’re very happy for.
Storage inside the MG 4 is great with reasonable door pockets, a good-sized glovebox, a big box underneath the central armrest and a huge tray in the centre console with a netted area, a large open section and two reasonable cup holders.
Seat comfort is reasonable, though we’d like to see a wider range of adjustment, such as lumbar and under-thigh angle support for an even better driving position. All-round visibility is pretty good, thanks to large windows and mirrors. Importantly, unlike the ZS EV, the MG 4’s steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake and also unlike the ZS EV, which sits on an ICE platform, you sit much lower in the MG4.
Centre of the 2023 MG 4’s cabin is a new 10.25-inch touchscreen with inbuilt satellite navigation, digital radio and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. It uses the same ‘iSmart’ software that features in the recently updated ZS EV and it’s far more useable than the software that other MG models like the ZST and HS use thanks to the use of icons which are more logical, more intuitive menu layouts and high screen quality. However, while there are more shortcut buttons below the screen, we’d still like to see more hard buttons for basic functions like adjusting the temperature and the regenerative braking instead of having to go into the screen to do so.
The rear seat of the MG 4, thanks to its EV platform, is quite roomy for its size – two six-foot adults will be more than comfortable, while a third will fit for a bit too. The rear seat features with map pockets, two ISOFIX points, three top-tether points, door pockets and a USB-A charging port – but no centre armrest or air vents.
Measuring between 350-litres (Essence 64 and Long Range 77) and 363L (Excite 51 and Excite 64), the boot of the MG 4 is a good size for the segment, though not exactly massive. It’s a nice and flat space, with between 1,165L (Essence 64 and Long Range 77) and 1,177L (Excite 51 and Excite 64) when the rear seats are folded flat – definitely larger than a Corolla, but the BYD Dolphin offers more space at 351L/1,310L seats up/down respectively. There’s some side storage and hooks, plus a dual-level boot floor in the Essence and Long Range, though no spare wheel and no front boot either.
Service & Warranty: 9.5/10
Like other new MG products, the 2023 MG 4 is equipped with a seven-year/unlimited km warranty with seven years of roadside assistance and a seven-year/unlimited km warranty for the battery. Its service intervals are long two-year/40,000km terms, and six years/120,000km of servicing costs $1,478 or $246 per annum.
Competitor BYD offers a slightly lesser six-year/150,000km warranty in Australia but with a slightly superior eight-year/unlimited km warranty for the Dolphin’s battery. The BYD Dolphin’s service intervals match the MG 4 for distance (20,000km) but it must be serviced once yearly – six years/120,000km of servicing costs $1,754 ($292 per annum).
The 2023 MG 4 DiscoverAuto Launch Rating: 8.5/10
Overall, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the 2023 MG 4. More than just one of the least expensive new electric vehicles on the market, it offers a wide range of talent with great driving dynamics, a good quality and spacious cabin, a range of battery options to suit different budgets, eye-catching exterior styling, a solid aftersales program and a long list of standard equipment. That it’s the first EV to match petrol-powered rivals on price is very important in EV adoption in Australia, but it’s also important because it feels like a new beginning for the MG brand.
It shows more maturity and a wider range of engineering depth than any other product the brand sells, and because of that, we can’t wait for its future products. Of course, it isn’t perfect – we wish it had more equipment like auto wipers, rear air vents and a sunroof, the cabin is a touch dark and there’s no spare wheel – but overall, the 2023 MG 4 is a hugely likeable product that we think is going to sell quite well. That it’s a hatchback that just happens to be powered by electricity is merely a bonus in its armour.