We road test the distinctive MG4 hatchback – not only is it a great value electric vehicle, but it delivers a surprisingly engaging drive…
You’ve got to hand it to MG Motor – a car maker that continues to defy the cynics with its blend of award-winning, reasonably-priced models that offer peace of mind thanks to a generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty as standard.
The result is that the now Chinese-owned company is enjoying record-breaking sales and is the “UK’s fastest-growing mainstream car brand”.
Just to put that into perspective, MG’s 51,050 sales in 2022 were up nearly 67% year-on-year and some way ahead of established brands including Renault, Mazda, Honda, Citroen, Suzuki, Dacia and Fiat.
I’m already a fan of the MG ZS EV crossover and MG5 EV estate, but the new MG4 EV is something else, adding serious style and impressive driveability to the mix.
For me, the MG4 is a breath of fresh air in an automotive world dominated by high-riding SUVs. I prefer to sit lower in the cabin. I want to feel more involved and enjoy extra agility.
In the EV world, there aren’t many hatchbacks on offer. Currently, the MG4’s most obvious rivals include the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen ID.3, the Cupra Born and the ORA Funky Cat.
You only have to look at the picture of the car (here in signature Volcano Orange) to see that it’s no ordinary hatchback.
Up front there’s a swooping nose, sculpted bonnet, angular LED headlights and aggressive air intakes. The profile is aerodynamic and crisp, while the rear features a complex two-part roof spoiler, a full-width LED taillight bar topped with unique, inset zig-zag lines.
Competitively priced from just £26,995, range will depend on the battery size chosen – so it’s up to 218 miles with the 51kWh, or a possible 281 miles if you opt for the 64kWh battery.
Both battery units power an electric motor, producing 168bhp with the smaller battery or 200bhp (larger one). As with most EVs, there’s a single-speed automatic gearbox, while drive is via the rear wheels.
The 51kW Standard Range battery version accelerates from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, while the 64kWh Long Range unit is slightly slower (7.9 seconds). So, whichever you choose, the MG4 is no slouch.
There are two trims levels (SE and Trophy), with the latter exclusive to the bigger battery.
All MG4 EVs are generously equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen (thankfully including physical short-cut buttons below) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus an additional 7.0-inch digital driver’s display as standard, along with climate control, rear parking sensors and 17-inch alloys.
Other goodies include keyless entry, automatic headlights, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors and a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel.
The MG4 is wider than you think with a long wheelbase, so there’s plenty of space for passengers, front and rear. And, despite the sporty roofline, there’s ample head and legroom in the back.
There’s also a decent luggage capacity of 363 litres, rising to 1,177 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Driving an MG4 couldn’t be easier. Once you’re inside, simply put your foot on the brake, select D for Drive via the rotary gear selector in the centre console, release the parking brake and you’re away.
On the road, the MG4 delivers just what you’d expect from an EV – and more. The ride is comfortable and refined. There’s a little road and wind noise, but it’s in no way excessive, while the engineers have done a great job of insulating you from lumps and bumps in the road.
The steering is light and there’s good forward visibility. However, the slim tailgate window makes backing into spaces slightly trickier, but there is a useful reversing camera and the top-of-the-range Trophy version I tested is blessed comes with a 360-degree camera.
The revelation with the MG4 is that it’s one of the few reasonably priced electric cars to treat owners to a genuinely dynamic drive (the MINI Electric is another example).
Hustle it through more challenging corners and it stays flat and planted, helped by a low centre of gravity from the batteries mounted far down in the chassis and 50:50 weight distribution.
It feels agile and lively, and it can even get playful in the wet or on looser surfaces, thanks to the rear-wheel drive set-up. Unlike many competitors, the brakes are well judged, inspiring confidence and adding to an overall smoothness.
The MG4 features three driving modes (Eco, Normal and Sport) plus four different levels of brake regeneration (Low, Medium, Strong and Adaptive). Normal/Medium worked best for me in everyday driving, though Sport/Low spice things up for overtaking and the odd blast.
If you can find a rapid 150kW connection, a 10-80% charge can take as little as 35 minutes and, if you have a wallbox, it will also charge overnight at home.
All in all, the MG4 is a fantastic EV. Sure, the infotainment touchscreen isn’t state of the art and it’s a tad slow to power up, while the steering wheel controls are fiddly. Additionally, rear visibility isn’t ideal and the boot could be bigger, but overall it’s a fab car at a great price.
Verdict: Affordable, distinctive, well equipped and practical, the MG4 delivers the kind of driving dynamics that’s streets ahead of many EVs twice the price. Add MG’s generous seven-year warranty, and it it’s a no-brainer if you’re ready to switch to 100% electric motoring.