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Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

MG4 EV Review

The MG4 EV is good to drive, interesting to look at, it offers a decent range, and it’s relatively affordable – just be aware of a few interior usability issues…

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Green Car Guide Rating: 8/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   MG4 EV Trophy (Long Range)
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 270 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   135 kW

Summary

  • Good to drive
  • Sporty looks
  • Relatively affordable price
  • No heating and ventilation controls accessible on the dashboard

Background

Many people will still think of MG primarily as a British sports car brand from the 1960’s and 1970’s, but the latest MGs are Chinese and a large proportion of the company’s sales are of electric cars. MG already offers the MG5 EV Estate and the MG ZS EV SUV, and there’s now the MG4 EV hatchback.

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Design & Engineering

The big news with the MG4 EV is that there has been a move away from the front-wheel drive platforms of the MG5 EV Estate and the MG ZS EV SUV to a new platform that is rear-wheel drive (although it can also support all-wheel drive). It also has 50:50 weight distribution.

The MG4 EV Trophy (Long Range) as tested has a ‘thin’ NCM (Nickel Cobalt Manganese) battery with a capacity of 64 kWh, or a 61.7 kWh usable capacity, with a 203 PS electric motor.

The MG4 EV’s styling looks interesting (although it has to be said that there appears to be little brand design consistency between MG’s different models), with a sporty look to the front and the rear (complete with its ‘twin aero rear spoiler’). The 17-inch alloy wheels look slightly under-sized compared to some other rivals in this segment (the CUPRA Born has a choice of 18, 19 or 20-inch wheels). The MG 4 is available in other colours apart from the ‘Volcano Orange’ of our test car, in case that doesn’t appeal.

The cabin is quite basic, with a driver’s instrument display, a central touchscreen and a floating centre console as the main features.

The boot capacity of the MG4 EV is 363 litres, and there’s a relatively shallow space under the boot floor which can just about accommodate charging cables.

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MG4 EV Driving Experience

Like a Tesla, the MG4 has no start/stop button; you simply sit in the driver’s seat, select a gear, and you’re off.

The driver’s seat has electric adjustment for seat height and backrest angle, but you can’t adjust the angle of the seat base. The result is that you should be able to get a decent driving position, but you can’t tune it to perfection.

The driving experience of the MG4 is very good. Like virtually all EVs, the MG4 is quiet and refined, with instant torque delivering responsive acceleration. The ride quality is comfortable, and the big difference compared to front-wheel drive EVs is that the rear-wheel drive chassis delivers rewarding handling. The steering also has a good level of feel, no doubt helped by the front wheels only doing the steering rather than also having to deliver power. Overall the MG4 feels relatively light (the kerb weight of 1,685 kg is good for an EV) and agile. Most control weights are also well judged.

Rear-wheel drive EVs such as the Volkswagen ID.3 have traction control systems that don’t allow any degree of slippage of the rear tyres; the MG4 does allow some slippage, especially on wet or greasy roads, when the rear tyres can often seem to struggle for grip under initial acceleration.

The MG4 is fun to drive around town and on country roads, but it’s also refined at motorway speeds.

So overall the MG4 is a good car to drive, but, as is the fashion with most of the latest cars, virtually all physical buttons have been removed from the dashboard, and the majority of car controls are accessed via the touchscreen.

This includes drive modes. On the home screen there’s a ‘vehicle’ button – if you press this you get the following options: Driving, MG Pilot, Convenience, Lighting and Safety.

The ‘driving’ button allows you to choose from the modes of Snow, Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom. It would be better to be able to press one button on the dashboard to select a drive mode rather than having to go into the touchscreen.

The same applies to adjusting the level of brake regeneration (the options are weak, medium, strong or adaptive) – this also has to be done via the ‘vehicle’ and then the ‘driving’ buttons on the touchscreen.

The lane departure warning system can be switched off if you go to the MG Pilot button, and there’s good news: if you switch it off, it says switched off the next time you start the car.

But the biggest, and the most unbelievable, issue with the MG4 is the complete lack of heating and ventilation controls on the dashboard. Yes, you read that correctly: there are no heating and ventilation controls on the MG4’s dashboard, or on the touchscreen home page.

Under the touchscreen there are a few buttons, and one of these is marked with a fan symbol and on or off. If you press this then a window pops up with heating and ventilation information, but this window disappears after about three seconds.

There are also six buttons on the steering wheel, and if you press the bottom button on the right-hand side this also brings up the same window for around three seconds.

Both of these windows are mostly useless, so you’re left with a car that has no easily accessible heating and ventilation controls. It turns out that if you want to change the cabin temperature or make any other adjustments to the interior climate, you have to swipe the touchscreen to the right and that brings up a collection of buttons, one of which is ‘AC’. If you press this then the heating and ventilation information window pops up and this time it stays there and you can make changes.

We’ve been reviewing cars for over 16 years and we can’t think of another car that has no heating and ventilation controls on the dashboard or touchscreen home screen. Many of the latest cars have secondary car controls on secondary screens, but we wouldn’t regard heating and ventilation as secondary controls – they’re one of the most basic car controls that you want immediate and constant access to. Having to swipe the home screen to the right and then press another button to access the heating and ventilation controls is crazy, and dangerous. And if you’re using Apple CarPlay, you can’t even swipe the screen; you have to press the home button under the screen first.

The media is full of stories about the severe legal punishments that await drivers who touch their mobile phone when driving, but nothing seems to be mentioned about the multiple button-pressing that is required on touchscreens to turn the heating up or down when driving at 70 mph.

In contrast, the MG5 EV has heating and ventilation controls that look like they’re based on a 1980’s aftermarket car stereo, but they work brilliantly.

There are also no obvious controls for the headlights on the dashboard, however it turns out that there’s a small switch on the indicator stalk to turn the lights on or off. This can be knocked inadvertently when driving at night, resulting all lights being switched off in error.

The MG4 has a reversing camera but the touchscreen only displayed the view from the camera a few times out of many reversing manoeuvres with the car.

The MG4 has a floating centre console which only houses the rotary gear selector and electronic handbrake, yet it’s quite wide and can dig into your left knee when driving. It was also sometimes a challenge for the gear selector to select a gear.

Under the floating centre console are two drinks bottle holders, which are quite hard to access, and hidden at the back under the floating console there are two USB sockets which are even more inaccessible.

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MG4 EV Electric Range and Charging

The MG4 EV Trophy Long Range has a WLTP electric driving range of 270 miles. During our week with the MG4 it was averaging a driving range of 220 miles in the real-world.

The MG4 EV Trophy Long Range can rapid charge at up to 135 kW. A 10-80% charge at a 150 kW DC rapid charger should take around 35 minutes.

The MG4 Long Range SE model has an electric driving range (WLTP) of 281 miles.

The MG4 SE Standard Range has a smaller 51 kWh battery, with a usable capacity of 50.8 kWh, and an electric driving range (WLTP) of 218 miles (and an electric motor with a power output of 125 kW rather than 150 kW of the Long Range models). The MG4 SE Standard Range can rapid charge at up to 117 kW.

The MG4 features the ability to deliver vehicle to load charging, in other words to power domestic appliances, camping equipment or power tools.

The new platform also allows integration with ‘future technologies’ such as battery swap systems.

How to charge an electric car

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Price And Model Range

The MG4 EV SE Standard Range price is £25,995; the MG4 EV SE Long Range price is £28,495; and the MG4 EV Trophy Long Range price is £31,495 (as tested).

MG4 EV Trophy models have Projector LED Headlights with reflective technology, and an Active Grille Shutter system (AGS) which regulates air flow according to vehicle requirements and increases EV efficiency, especially at motorway speeds,

All MG4 models feature MG Pilot, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist with traffic sign recognition, Intelligent High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Alert. In addition to the above, the MG4 EV Trophy model also includes Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Lane Change Assist (LCA), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Door Opening Warning (DOW).

There are six exterior colour options: Arctic White, Holborn Blue, Black Pearl (Metallic), Camden Grey (Metallic), Dynamic Red (Tri-Coat) and Volcano Orange (Tri-Coat).

A higher performance MG4 EV model is due in 2023, with dual motor powertrain and launch control.

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Conclusion

The MG4 EV is a car that we want to like very much. It’s good to drive, with a rewarding rear-wheel drive chassis, it has a decent range, and it offers good value. So it’s such a shame that there are a few interior usability issues, chief amongst these being the complete lack of ability to adjust basic heating and ventilation controls on the dashboard or on the touchscreen home page. We wonder how long the fashion of hiding away most car controls in touchscreens will last, and how long it will be before some legislator realises how distracting and dangerous this can be. We hope that MG will correct this major usability issue as soon as possible – ie. please just put basic heating and ventilation controls on the dashboard (good old-fashioned rotary dials for the temperature and fan work perfectly), but in the meantime the MG4 EV is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.

Car facts and figures MG4 EV Review

  • Test electric driving range: 220 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 3.7 miles/kWh (16.6 kWh/100km)
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2022/23): 2%
  • Price:   £31,495
  • Insurance group:   TBC
  • Power:   203 PS
  • Torque:   250 Nm
  • Max speed:   100 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   7.9 seconds
  • Weight:   1,685 kg
  • Towing capacity (braked): 500 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor