The MG4 is the latest car from MG that signals its intentions for an electrified reinvention. The company has already launched the plug-in hybrid HS SUV and the ZS SUV and MG5 estate EVs, but the new MG4 is - to use an overused word - a potential gamechanger. It's a five-door hatchback that ostensibly competes with the likes of the Volkswagen ID.3 and Nissan Leaf in terms of size, but it undercuts most of its rivals by some considerable margin. And yet, that's not the only thing good about this car.
First, there's the MG4's appearance, and we're not just talking about our test car's Volcano Orange colour. While some manufacturers give all their cars the same corporate face, that's not something that MG is known for, and it certainly doesn't attempt to channel the company's past with retro looks, either. As a result, the MG4 is pretty unique, with a smooth, pointed, sports car-like front end, clean lines and slightly fussy tail, which the keen-eyed will spot lacks a rear windscreen wiper. That's because MG claims that the car's rear spoiler (a 'dual wing' design on top-spec Exclusive cars) is designed to channel airflow over the glass. Though we'd prefer to have a wiper, it does appear that the window stays clear and clean even in awful weather conditions.
Another highlight of the MG4 is the fact that it's based on a new dedicated EV platform; until now, MG's other electric models have used chassis designed to accommodate combustion engines, too. That means the MG4 has improved space inside, further boosting its credentials as a practical electric family hatchback.
The MG4 model range
Irish prices for the MG4 start from €27,495, and there are two powertrain and two trim options to choose from for the moment. The range kicks off with the Excite Standard Range, which comes with a 170hp electric motor and 50.8kWh (usable capacity) battery for a range of 350km on the combined WLTP test. The Excite Long Range is €3,500 extra and features a larger (61.7kWh) battery as well as a more powerful electric motor, with 203hp on tap. This version has a range of 450km under WLTP test conditions, while the top-spec Exclusive model tested here, which costs €34,495, only comes in Long Range guise and has an official range of 434km.
The Excite model has pretty much all of the equipment you could possibly want, with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lights all-round, rear parking sensors, heated door mirrors, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with smartphone compatibility and app connectivity, a seven-inch driver's display, three USB ports, climate control and a full suite of safety equipment. This includes tyre pressure monitors, two pairs of ISOFIX child seat attachments in the back, six airbags and an alarm and immobiliser.
The only external differences between Excite and Exclusive trim (apart from the option to add Volcano Orange paint) are upgraded LED lights up front, a contrast roof colour, different roof spoiler design and a light bar across the tailgate. Otherwise, it looks largely identical. There are bigger changes inside, with leather-effect trim, heated front seats and electric adjustment for the driver's seat, a heated steering wheel and an adjustable boot floor. The infotainment is also upgraded, with navigation and live services on offer, a 360-degree camera system and wireless phone charging added.
The biggest changes are reserved for the MG Pilot suite of driver assistance tech. Both versions of the MG4 get autonomous emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with lane assist, traffic jam assist, road sign recognition with speed limit assist, driver tiredness alert and adaptive main beam headlights, but the Exclusive model tops this up with some extra tech. This includes lane-change assist, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert - for when you're reversing - and a door opening warning that alerts you if you're about to step out of the car when there's a hazard coming from behind.
All versions of the MG4 available now have an electric motor mounted at the back driving the rear wheels, although MG is due to launch a faster model at a later date with four-wheel drive and 450hp for a 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds.
The MG4 interior
As the battery pack is mounted under the cabin, the lowest seating position is a little higher than you'll find in internal combustion engined cars, but not dramatically so. There's loads of adjustment in the driver's seat (electric in the Exclusive model) and steering wheel, while visibility in all directions is notably good. The steering wheel itself is worthy of mention. It's a relatively large squared-off circle, a little like that of the BMW iX, but it feels good to hold and it's trimmed in high-quality leather. What's more, the buttons on the spokes are solid and tactile, starting the car off on the right foot in terms of a quality feel. The function of the larger of the buttons on the left spoke can be customised to the owner's liking, too, which is a neat feature.
Ahead of the wheel is a nearly-square digital instrumentation screen showing the speed readout and lots of other information. The graphics are simple and quite sharp, but there is a lot going on there. It's complemented by the wide 10.25-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, which has modern graphics and quick response to inputs. It's worth taking the time to navigate through all of the options before driving off for the first time, as this screen controls all aspects of the car. As ever, we'd rather there were physical controls for the heating and ventilation, but at least that menu is always accessible from the top of the display.
Under the touchscreen is a high-set shelf that houses a wireless charger, the tactile rotary drive selector and the electronic parking brake. At either end of the wireless charger pad are little holes and, if you lift the surface of the pad, it reveals larger 'tunnels' leading under the shelf to the lower section of the centre console. These are designed to accommodate charging cables if needed, and there are USB-A, USB-C and 12-volt power outlets fitted.
Along with the expected cupholders and a usefully deep hidden cubby under the central armrest, there's a shallow but wide storage area between the front seats. On the subject of which, the part-synthetic leather chairs in the Exclusive car look smart and are comfortable.
Access to the rear seats is via wide door openings, which are always particularly welcomed by parents wrestling with getting their kids into the car. There, they'll find ISOFIX mounting points in the outer two seats. Three adults could conceivably fit in the rear, though it'd be more comfortable for just two. There's plenty of legroom and headroom, though, and the floor is almost completely flat - the centre has a raised section, but it's quite shallow, and wide enough for the middle passenger to put their feet on, too.
The rear seat back splits 60:40 and folds down with ease, though it creates a step with the boot floor rather than a fully-flat surface. MG quotes a figure of 363 litres for the boot volume with the rear seats in place, which is comparable to that of a Volkswagen Golf, for example.
The MG4 driving experience
Starting the MG4 is similar to other EVs such as the Tesla Model 3 and VW ID.3; with the key on your person, you just hop in, press the brake pedal and select drive or reverse using the rotary controller. How smartly the car takes off depends on which driving mode has been selected. It defaults to Normal, while the other settings are Snow, Eco and Sport. There's also a Custom option in which the driver can choose their own preferences for the steering weighting, level of brake energy regeneration and response to accelerator input.
Separate to that, it's possible to choose from three different brake energy regeneration settings. At first, it seems inconvenient to have to do this via a menu on the touchscreen, but you can designate this function to the steering wheel button if you're likely to alter it on the go. It's worth doing, using maximum regeneration when in stop-start traffic around town, for example, but then minimum regeneration when on the motorway. However, it's never quite one-pedal driving, regardless of the setting chosen.
The Long Range model gets a 203hp electric motor to help overcome the extra weight of the bigger battery pack, but it's no quicker against the clock than the entry-level variant with 170hp. Ignore the numbers though, as the MG4 feels plenty quick enough in all scenarios. More impressively, it's also really quiet - even measured against the expected quietness of an electric car. That extends to the lack of road noise and wind roar over the car, making it a relaxing way to travel long distances.
And it can theoretically carry out longer journeys on a full charge, too - up to 450 kilometres depending on specification. That would require an average energy consumption figure of circa 16kWh/100km, which is possible in the MG4 with some restraint and summer weather. In winter driving, or high-speed cruising on the motorway, it's likely to exceed 20kWh/100km and drop the range closer to 300km.
The Long Range model's battery can be charged at up to 135kW on a DC rapid charger, however, which is useful. It's a shame that AC charging is capped to 7kW, though that's not an issue for those that mostly charge up their EVs at home.
The biggest surprise comes from the way the MG4 drives. It is genuinely great fun with excellent balance, good steering (despite also having a notably tight turning circle) and adjustability. Keener drivers will love the rear-wheel drive, which makes it feel sportier than expected when you push on. The traction and stability control systems make it perfectly safe and usable for everyone, but they manage to not detract from the fun quotient too much, either.
Sensibly, MG hasn't allowed the car such driver engagement at the expense of comfort, and the MG4 rides bumps, speed humps and potholes with aplomb. It's a great all-rounder with a markedly polished chassis.
Our verdict on the MG4
The MG4 is a gamechanger for the MG brand of course, but also for the entire automotive market. That's partly to do with the headline-grabbing pricing, which is reason enough to consider it ahead of any potential rivals. But it's the way that MG has managed to deliver such value for money in a desirable and competent package that sets it apart. The MG4 is simply a brilliant electric car.