2023 MG4 Excite 51 ReviewFor drivers
The gateway to the future of zero-emission mobility will become more accessible as newer, cheaper options arrive on our shores.
Up until now, electric cars have commanded a hefty price premium over traditional vehicles with an internal combustion engine as carmakers attempt to recoup the expensive costs of development and battery production.
But economies of scale are inverse to production and as EVs are becoming more popular with a wider choice of models the costs are coming down, to the point where there is almost parity between electric and ICE models.
Well, at least that is the case with one model, the all-new MG4 – the first dedicated EV from the iconic, now Chinese-owned brand – which has arrived in Australian showrooms as one of the most affordable electric cars.
The MG4 is a five-door hatchback, similar in size to the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Mazda 3. But, unlike rival models such as the Nissan Leaf which is adapted from a conventional small car, the MG4 is built on a unique battery-only platform.
The mainstream version is offered in Australia in two trim levels – Excite and Essence – with three different powertrain options and has recently been joined by a heroic hot hatch flagship model, the MG4 XPOWER, that promises supercar performance on a family car budget.
The model we’re testing here is the entry-level MG4 Excite 51, which has a 51kWh battery pack that powers a front-mounted electric motor that produces 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque and drives the front wheels. MG claims the Excite 51 has a maximum driving drive of 350km and is priced from just $38,990 (plus on-roads).
Both the Excite and Essence trim levels can be had with a larger capacity 64kWh battery that unlocks more power from the electric motor, increasing its peak output to 150kW, and extending the driving range by an extra 100kms. The Excite 64 costs $44,990 while the Essence 64 commands a $3000 premium.
If you need to drive further, the Long Range 77, which is exclusively offered in the range-topping Essence trim level, has an even bigger 77kWh battery pack, higher outputs (180kW and 350Nm) and can travel up to 530km on a single charge. It costs from $55,990.
Spicing up the range, the MG4 XPOWER has a unique dual-motor configuration with up to 320kW of power and 600Nm and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.8 seconds. It costs from $59,990 (plus on-roads).
All MG4 models come with a generous list of standard equipment, including LED head and taillights, keyless entry with automatic stop and start, climate control air conditioning and twin digital screens; a 7.0-inch instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display.
The Excite trim level has cloth interior trim, manual adjustment for the front seats, and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android devices with 12V, USB-A and USB-C power connections to keep mobile devices charged.
The Essence models add a lot of gear for the relatively small premium, including synthetic leather trim, heated front seats with electric adjustment for the driver, a six-speaker audio system, sat nav, a wireless phone charging pad and a host of exterior changes, such as larger 18-inch alloy wheels, two-tone paint and a unique twin-aero rear spoiler.
They also build on what is already a comprehensive array of active safety features in the Excite versions that includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist and lane-keeping assistance with additional features such as blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree parking camera.
All MG4s score a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating and have six airbags.
They are also covered by a seven-year warranty with an affordable capped-price servicing program, and MG offers a subsidised ChargeHub wall box that can be installed at home or an office carpark that provides quicker recharging.
Owing to the different battery capacities, charging rates and times vary between the different models. The Excite 51 has a maximum charging capacity of just 88kW, which means it cannot take full advantage of rapid charging stations. As such, it will take around 7.5 hours to fully replenish the battery on a 7kW single-phase home charger, while topping it up between 10-80 percent on a 50kW DC fast charger will take approximately 40 minutes.
The models with a 64kWh battery can charge at up to 140kW and take less than half an hour to refill between 10-80 percent on a 150kW DC rapid charger, while the 77kWh battery can handle up to 144kW but takes 10 minutes longer owing to its larger capacity.
Whichever way you look at it, the MG4 is an enticing proposition for the price. And, thankfully, the real-world experience lives up to the promise.
For starters, the cabin makes a very positive first impression thanks to its clean and minimalist design. It is nowhere near as fussy – or overly styled – as other affordable EVs from rival Chinese brands, like the BYD Atto3.
The ergonomics are most spot-on, with plenty of adjustment in the driving position, good vision and comfortable and supportive front seats. The only blight is the extruding centre console, which can knock your knees when cornering, hard plastics and flimsy buttons on the lower edge of the infotainment screen.
Otherwise, it is reasonably spacious with good headroom and plenty of legroom in the back and has an airy ambience about it despite the predominantly black theme.
There are good storage spaces throughout the cabin, with a secured centre console and decent-sized door pockets. And while the 350L boot is big enough for a couple of suitcases or weekly shopping, it isn’t the largest cargo area in the small car class. And there’s no extra space under the bonnet with a front trunk – or frunk – like most other electric vehicles.
On the road, the MG4 is equally as impressive. Even though the Excite 51 has the least powerful electric motor, it feels just as punchy as any petrol-powered alternative away from the lights and effortlessly cruises at highway speeds. Like all EVs, because it doesn’t have a conventional gearbox, the electric motor delivers the power smoothly, seamlessly and silently – making it feel more refined.
With the battery located under the floor for optimum weight distribution, the MG4 is the most convincing model yet from the Chinese-owned car maker when it comes to the vehicle’s dynamic character. The steering is light and yet precise and the suspension has a nice balance between everyday comfort and security through the corners.
If anything, the MG4 offers an easy transition between petrol and electric power. It doesn’t have the same novelty trick of neck-snapping acceleration like other EVs, and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, neither does it have a massive amount of regenerative braking potential.
While it does have four different modes that alter the degree of energy recuperation when decelerating, even the highest setting doesn’t bob your head forward as soon as you lift off the throttle. Instead, it will coast gently and require the driver to use the conventional brake pedal to come to a complete standstill.
That will certainly make the MG4 feel less foreign to drive for those driving an EV for the first time.
And, at the end of the day, that might be just as appealing as the MG4’s price tag. But, either way, while the MG4 isn’t a game changer in terms of EV technology, it could play a very significant role in accelerating the transition to zero emissions mobility.
If anything, it is arguably the most convincing alternative to a petrol-powered hatchback we’ve seen so far.
Talk to SG Fleet to plan an electric mobility future for your business.