MG4 First Drive: The Best Small EV On The Market?
Remember MG? The British brand that was sold in 2000 for £10 by the ‘Phoenix Four’ only to change hands five years later. Since then, it has been getting its house in order and, with a can-do attitude, has launched several compelling new cars in the last few years. But none are as big – or as important – as this: the all-electric MG4.
MG’S FIRST BESPOKE EV
There is a lot resting on the shoulders of the MG4 – an electric car available with both a Standard (218-miles) and Long Range battery that delivers 280-miles in ‘SE’ specification, and 270-miles in ‘Trophy’ trim. MG’s previously shown glimpses of what it is capable of with plug-in versions of the ZS crossover and MG5 estate – but the MG4 is the next step in the company’s zero-emission foray.
A challenger to the likes of the ID.3 from Volkswagen, this is a crucial car for MG and considering the money that has been spent developing it, bosses are already predicting it to be a big-seller in 2023 – its first full year on sale. In fact, they anticipate the MG4 to be the second most sought after car in the UK between now and December, especially as prices start from just £25,995 for the hatchback – the equivalent to a monthly PCP payment of £300 that includes a £4,000 deposit.
EVERY REASON TO BE CONFIDENT
Not only does the MG4 herald a new chapter in the company’s electrification strategy, it ushers in a modern look that is sure to appeal to the masses, particularly younger people – something it has traditionally struggled to do in the past. The first to deploy the cutting edge Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), this bold direction has spawned an almost space-age looking hatchback with alien themed LED headlights.
‘Trophy’ spec introduces a black roof and matching black mirror caps, a two-piece rear spoiler, privacy glass and a rather classy rear LED lightbar. At the front, a sculpted chin spoiler is joined by vertical DRLs. All cars sit on the same ‘low wind resistance’ 17-inch wheels and come in one of six colours. Two solid finishes – ‘Arctic White’ and ‘Holborn Blue’ – and two metallic hues – ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘Camden Grey’ – are joined by ‘Dynamic Red’ and bright ‘Volcano Orange’. The latter won’t appeal to all tastes but it suits the MG4’s modern silhouette.
MG HASN’T SKIMPED ON KIT
You name it and, chances are, it will be on the MG4. As a start point, all trim levels have a 10.25-inch central touchscreen. Operated via a ledge of decent-sized buttons, or on-screen toggles that are small and can be hard to tap on the move, it has sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All in all, the system responds quickly to commands and the graphics have a nice contrast to them.
Viewable through the top half of the BMW iX-inspired steering wheel is a 7-inch full colour driving display that contains all the information you need. Divided up into three equally-sized sections, the only real downside we experienced is the inability to fill this entirely with map information.
A modern and simplistic looking cabin constructed from hard-wearing plastics is achieved with the help of a raised central ledge for the gear selector and parking brake that frees up space beneath it. Faux leather for the seats, blue stitching, and splashes of grey and black improve the ambience.
COMFORT IS A POSITIVE, TOO
Some cars flatter to deceive in as far as they look big on the outside but once inside, you are left to question your initial judgement. The MG4 is the opposite of this. At 4.28 metres long and 1.83 metres wide, it is in the ID.3 ballpark – but some clever packaging courtesy of the new platform guarantees acres of room for the driver and front seat passenger, and ample head and legroom for those seated in the back.
A small hump in the floor prevents this from being entirely flat, yet it doesn’t have an adverse impact on foot space for the person occupying the middle ground on the flat rear bench. Map pockets and dual smartphone-sized pouches on the front seat backs are welcome, although the door bins are unforgivably small and shallow – a gripe brought into sharp focus as there is no drop-down centre arm-rest with cup holders.
Free from intrusions and a load lip, the 363-litre boot is a nice shape and one of this car’s redeeming features for potential owners.
A CONVINCING PERFORMER
MG quotes a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds and it feels every bit as fast as those numbers suggest, especially when you select ‘Sport’ as this enhances throttle bite. Rear-mounted, the electric motor has adequate punch – especially true in and around town – where the bias towards comfort prevents the ride from becoming lumpy.
The same applies at cruising speeds on the motorway – or down a country road where the MG4 is happy to be shown a series of bends – thanks to nicely-weighted steering that does a reasonable job of communicating what the nippy front end is doing.
Being rear-wheel-drive adds to the car’s sense of fun and playfulness, while the option to leave the middle pedal well alone is possible by choosing the highest level of regenerative braking. And when you do apply these, they aren’t grabby or spongy as is often the way with electric vehicles.
CHARGING: The 200bhp e-motor is fed by a 64kWh battery in top-spec ‘Trophy’ cars and promises 270-miles on a full charge. All MG4s have the ability to accept 150kW rapid charging and therefore a 10-80% charge is quoted as taking 35 minutes; the process requires nine hours if it is linked up to a 7kW wallbox. A smaller 51kWh pack is also offered and delivers 218-miles between top-ups.
INTERIOR: The MG4’s cabin is appealing and simple to fathom but let down by scratchy plastics – a clear indication of where cost savings have had to be made for a car at this price point. High-end ‘Trophy’ attracts a whole host of convenience features ranging from wireless phone charging, a 360-degree parking camera and sensors, plus heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
STYLING: If attention-grabbing looks are important when it comes to purchasing an EV then the MG4 has that box ticked. ‘Trophy’ cars have more of a sporting pretence as demonstrated by the black contrast roof and mirror caps, dual design roof-mounted rear spoiler, and rear LED lightbar. Deep sidewalls on 17-inch wheels cushion the ride and grip keenly for assured handling in corners.
PRACTICALITY: The boot is about average for this class and although there is no underfloor area to store charging leads, one plus is the absence of a load lip. A tight turning circle made possible by mounting the electric motor on the rear axle proves handy in urban settings, while visibility straight ahead and over the shoulder are both very good. Passenger space is on a par with rivals.
Price: £31,495 (as tested)
Powertrain: 64kWh battery/one e-motor
Power/torque: 200bhp/184lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 100mph
PROS & CONS
- Cutting edge design
- Excellent standard kit
- Quiet and fun to drive
- Materials disappoint
- Options are limited
- Boot capacity is small
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