MG4 review: price, performance and specification make this family hatchback the affordable EV to beat
The MG4 marks a new wave for the British/Chinese budget brand, introducing a brand new scalable platform which will underpin the brand’s future EV models and offer new drivetrain opportunities.
For the MG4 that means a different motor and battery setup to the ZS EV and MG5. A lot of mainstream car makers seem to have settled on similar performance from their EVs and the MG4 slots in among this “average” spec nicely. It has a single motor with around 200bhp, will reach 62mph in just under 8 seconds and can do around 280 miles from a 64kWh battery.
The performance is strong enough for a family hatchback, with decent pick-up that only starts to peter out at higher speeds. MG claims energy consumption of 3.8 miles/kWh and while that felt ambitious in the middle of winter, it never dipped below 3m/kWh in my week with it.
What’s equally pleasing is that the MG4 is actually quite fun to drive. It has a low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution which immediately means it feels settled on the road. This is aided by well-judged damping that keeps body movement in check, and decent amounts of grip. The rear-drive setup isn’t massively apparent but MG’s trick for offering surprisingly quick and responsive steering is present, meaning there’s some enjoyment to be had on more interesting roads.
Press images of the MG4 can make it look a bit awkward, especially in the Volcano Orange launch colour with the large black door bottoms. In the metal it looks more coherent and less wedge-like. It’s a fairly traditional hatchback shape with a couple of sharp body lines and a slightly outlandish “twin aero” roof spoiler. It won’t win any beauty awards but it’s no worse than a Nissan Leaf, for example.
Like the exterior, the interior isn’t particularly inspiring but is simple and feels like a significant step forward in quality over the ZS and MG5. The plastics are still a dull assortment of black but feel more robust and long-lasting and as good as most cars at this price point. The design has been kept very simple and logical and, like a lot of recent EVs, there’s a small digital instrument pod ahead of the steering wheel and a larger central touchscreen for controlling most functions, with a handful of shortcut keys beneath.
MG’s interface still leaves something to be desired, it’s pretty basic and a bit slow to respond but, frankly, it’s not much worse than the glitchy system currently plaguing VW Group cars. Two joystick-like controllers on the steering wheel can be used to manage everything from climate control to media and trip computer. They’re a little baffling at first, although owners will probably quickly become familiar with the arrangement.
Elsewhere there’s a low-level centre console with a load of storage space and a high-level gear selector with handy phone storage ahead of it (with wireless charging in top-spec cars). It gives the feeling of openness that helps many EVs feel bigger than they are. The MG4 is good enough in that regard, with plenty of space up front and reasonable room in the rear, plus a 363-litre boot. The only issue is a lack of foot space for rear passengers caused by the low mounting of the front seats.
There are only two trim levels on offer - SE and Trophy - plus two battery options. The SE isn’t overendowed with equipment compared with something like a VW ID.3 or Kia Niro. Touches like heated seats, a reversing camera or sat nav are preserved for the top-spec Trophy models but it does still get climate control, a 10-25-inch touchscreen, vehicle-to-load ability, plus MG Pilot driver assist with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and high beam assist.
There’s also the fact that the SE starts at £26,995 and even the long-range version costs less than £29,500. That’s less than a basic Nissan Leaf, which has less equipment, a 39kWh battery and a cramped and awkward interior. It’s also less than any of the tiny trio of Mini, Fiat 500 and Honda e, with their 150-mile ranges or the comparable-sized Citroen C4 with its 50kWh battery. A VW ID.3 with similar power and battery starts at £37,000 and while that feels more polished than the MG, I’m not convinced it feels £8,000 better.
That level of value is mightily impressive but is really just the icing on the cake. While previous electric MGs have felt good for the money, the MG4 just feels like a good family EV with strong performance. The fact it’s so well priced is just a bonus.
MG4 SE Long Range
Price: £29,495; Motor: Single synchronous electric motor; Battery: 64kWh; Power: 203bhp; Torque: 184lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive; Top speed: 100mph; 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds; Range: 281 miles; Consumption: 3.8m/kWh; Charging: up to 135kW