CAR OF THE WEEK: MG4 EV is well positioned to be a disruptor

March 24th, 2023 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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 By Brian Byrne

MG have been the first in of a wave of Chinese brand electric cars coming down the road to Europe, and are making the most of their head start here. 

Their latest model is the MG4, the first EV hatchback from the marque, once a sporty iconic British one but now owned by the giant SAIC Motor Company in China.

Driving the MG4 was being very much in the public eye. It turned heads all the time, and not just because of the orange colour, appropriately named Volcano. The car is very smartly styled, and quite distinctive. 

The designers went for advanced-looking lights up front and a brace of spoilers at the back extending from the roof that reference some supercar styling motifs. The visual kink in the profile made by black colouring in the lower parts does its bit too. No question, here is something smart.

In size it sits between Renault’s Megane E-Tech and Cupra’s Born electric cars, but is wider than both. All three can be considered in the space where Volkswagen’s Golf was long king of the compact hatch business.

The inside design of the MG4 is a simple and clean shape to the dash, with a high-set centre infotainment screen and a digital graphics setup for driver information in the usual place behind the steering wheel. The wheel itself is octagonal, reflecting the traditional MG logo surround. A jutting out section from the lower dash holds the circular knob transmission selector and a switch for the electronic brake operation, along with, in the top grade, a wireless pad for charging a smartphone.


The extra width of the car provides an airy interior, and the seats and door trim come in well on quality and fit scores. Despite its sleek appearance, the MG4 is also relatively easy to get in and out of even for this taller and older driver. Rear passengers have more knee room than might be expected. A 363-litre boot space is good.

The car comes with two battery options, the smaller one a 51kWh rated for 350km range, the larger with 64kWh and a claim of up to 450km. Drive is through the rear wheels. Two grades are offered, the upper one under review adding sat-nav, heated leather-style front seats, and a parking camera. All come with MG’s version of Level 2 driver assistance tech. 

As is the norm, the lane assist function is a default. I’m not a fan generally, and will usually switch it off. If I don’t remember to, it’s not normally a big deal. But the ‘assist’ in the MG4 is quite brutally strong, and highly uncomfortable to drive with. The problem is compounded by having to go through what is quite the worst touchscreen system I have ever come across, in order to switch it off. The virtual ‘buttons’ almost require prodding a finger through the glass before they react. And that’s after you have gone through a flick and two separate prods before achieving what you want. I’ve never made a secret of my general dislike of touchscreens. But none have raised my blood pressure as has this one. In the end, every time I went out in the car I spent time setting up what I wanted before I moved off so I wouldn’t have to go near it while on my journey.


All that said, the MG4 drives very nicely. It’s quiet, with little wind noise testifying to good aerodynamics. It was comfortable, though the heating struggled in the not really very cold weather.

My review car claims 435km range, but was only offering 320km when fully charged. On one measured typical commute on motorway, dual carriageway and urban roads, average speed 66km/h, I achieved a notional 368km. But that included not using the heater for most of the drive, only seat heating that gradually cooled. Consumption was 17.4kWh/100km — that last would have been closer to 21kWh/100km had I used the car’s heater all the way.

There was much about the MG4 that pleased, and with a starting price point that seems competitive, the MG4 is positioned to be a disruptor in the increasingly crowded EV compact family segment. But that touchscreen would be a deal-breaker, for me.

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