MG has been providing good value cars for a few years, but now it’s got something fantastic and it’s electric. We got behind the wheel of the new MG 4 and it’s impressive.
The Car.co.uk First Drive Verdict: 4.6
MG has come a long way since its modern re-launch under the stewardship of SAIC in China. It might not be a British marque anymore in the way that it was in the days of the MGB, but today it's turning into a car company that provides great design, excellent value for money and quality to match more established rivals. That would explain why its sales have jumped from a few thousand in the UK in 2019 to over 28,000 already in 2022 and a market share that’s seeing it overtake some serious rivals.
It’s also proving popular in the electric vehicle (EV) market with its MG5, ZS EV and now there’s this, the new MG 4. Priced from £25,995 to £31,495 it’s designed, engineered and priced to take on rivals like the Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa-e, Renault Zoe and Volkswagen ID3. If you’ve overlooked MG up until now, then pay attention because our initial impression is that it really is very good.
Like many of the latest MG models, the MG 4 has been partly designed at the company’s design studio in London. So far the brand has been a little conservative in its design approach but now it’s stepping things up quite a few notches, with a look that is unlike anything else in the market. The MG4 is a very striking looking thing an almost Lamborghini-like front. There’s lots of attention to detail and a quality look and feel to the exterior design although some of the plastics around the rear light bar look a bit cheap.
Trophy models have a sporty twin aero package at the back, with a spoiler that surprisingly adds drag rather than providing better aerodynamics. This translates into slightly less range which seems rather odd.
The interior is superb, with a minimalist design that works well without looking like they have tried too hard. Again it looks and feels good quality, with just a few hard plastics on the touch points on the doors and a slightly flimsy siding centre console cover. Otherwise, its thick padded materials. piano black trim that will need a regular wipe to get rid of finger marks and tech that feels solid and well integrated.
There’s a floating centre console panel that contains a rotary dial for the gear selector as well as a few buttons and a place to keep your phone, with the designers even paying attention to hiding cables. Minimalist design is also apparent in the buttons and toggle switches on the chunky steering wheel. It’s a fantastic space with a good overall look and feel to everything that really does show how far MG has come in the past couple of years.
PRACTICALITY - 4.5 out of 5
Practicality is most apparent in terms of the space inside which is really impressive with much of the 2,705mm wheelbase given over to the passengers in the rear who have lots of head and legroom. It also makes this a proper five seater with ample space for three across the back seat. There’s reasonable boot space too at 363 litres, something that is often compromised in an EV and the MG 4 has room underneath the boot floor for cables, puncture repair kit and so on.
There are some unexpected touches, such as the two additional pockets high on the back of the front seats that rear passengers can slot pens or even a phone into. These are just a few of multiple storage spaces that will help the MG 4 appeal to families.
Practicality in any EV is also about driving range and the 51kWh entry-level version has a range of up to 218 miles. Go for the 64kWh Long Range and you can have 281 miles in the SE although just 270 miles in the range-topping Trophy due to that odd rear aero design. If you want more then there will be an extended range version in the first few months of 2023 along with a performance model that will provide 442hp.
The Standard Range can charge at 117kW with MG claiming a 39 minute charge time from 10-80% using a 150kW charger. That drops to 35 minutes in the Long Range versions which can take on 135kW of DC charging.
TECH - 4.5 out of 5
There’s plenty of useable tech in the MG 4 with with MG’s iSmart system incorporating a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 7-inch instrumentation display. We found some of the icons and fonts a little tricky on the infotainment screen where someone mistakenly thought white on grey is a good idea. Fortunately it’s just software and engineers assured us they will be changing it to make it easier to read and use.
There are lots of easy to scroll through menus and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as navigation with live services on Trophy models which also have a wireless charging pad. There’s also an app so that you can unlock it remotely, look at the state of charge, that sort of thing. Long range models have an active intake shutter in the front to aid aero efficiency and there’s loads of safety tech courtesy of the MG Pilot system. This includes active emergency braking, bicycle detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistance and driver attention alert. It is a lot of tech for the money, none of which seems superfluous.
DRIVE - 5.0 out of 5
The compact hatch EV market is dominated by the likes of the Volkswagen ID3 and Renault Zoe but it's very likely the MG 4 could overtake these, at least among those who like to drive because it’s a fantastic thing on the road. There are five drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, Custom and a Snow mode all of which provide different driving ranges and characteristics.
Cruising around Cotswold villages the MG 4 is smooth, quiet and comfortable, with hardly any of the firm ride you get in other EVs. The driving position is excellent, the visibility good and there’s barely any noise in the cabin even from the tyres. It all bodes well for both commuting and longer journeys, but the MG4 has another ace up its sleeve - it’s remarkably sporty.
Sitting on MG’s new Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), the MG4 has 50:50 weight distribution, rear-wheel drive and instant torque. It’s incredible fun to drive enthusiastically, feeling more like a pocket rocket such as the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio RS or Toyota GR Yaris. The steering is not that communicative but it is precise and the chassis coped admirably with single track roads with undulations, constantly changing cambers and sudden direction changes. It’s grippy, nippy and phenomenal fun, matching anything that wears a GTi or ST badge and that is something we were not expecting at all. It relished every corner as though it’s a re-incarnated rally car. It has us seriously excited about not just the performance version but the sports car that is on the way on the same platform.
Its impressive hot hatch character aside though, the MG 4 impressed on every type of road surface and in all driving conditions. Admittedly we haven’t put it through a longer drive yet to see how its range does on motorways but like many EVs, it’s probably going to prefer the A or B-roads anyway.
VERDICT - 4.6 out of 5
MG has been impressing a lot of people lately but nothing has made us sit up and pay attention like the MG 4. It looks great, has superb tech, loads of interior space and first impressions show good practicality. Most of all though, it’s one of the best value EVs in the market, undercutting many direct rivals and with design, tech and driving dynamics that can shame more expensive models. Quite honestly, we have to say O-MG.
Model driven: MG 4 SE Trophy
Battery and Motor: 64kWh battery and rear-wheel drive
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