By Dylan Campbell
Published: Saturday, September 2, 2023
Electric vehicles (EV) are getting cheaper. You can now park a brand-new electric hatchback in your driveway from just $41,711 drive-away.
The car in question is the MG4 Excite 51, straight off the boat from Ningde in China. Other grades boast bigger batteries, more range and power, but we test drove the entry-level variant.
The power unit
A medium-size, five-door hatchback, the MG4 uses a single, rear-mounted electric motor producing 125kW of power to the rear wheels only. This is an unusual quirk given hatchbacks are normally front-wheel-drive.
A smaller 51kWh lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery is mounted flat under the vehicle’s floor. Mechanically, that’s about all there is to know. EVs are indeed much simpler than their petrol-powered predecessors.
Inside the modern, spacious, well-laid-out cabin you’ll find cloth seats and an economy feel like a Jetstar flight, but it doesn’t feel cheap – more cost-conscious like a Skoda.
Behind the steering wheel is a seven-inch screen displaying speed, range and other information like tyre pressure. A central 10.25-inch touchscreen displays Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and controls for the four-speaker stereo.
The MG4 is surprisingly terrific to drive. It’s effortless, responsive and even fun. The near-silent and smooth electric motor gives it a refinement normally reserved for more expensive luxury cars. Acceleration from a standstill to about 50km/h is as quick as some hot hatches.
Forward visibility is good, even if the sizeable C-pillar gives the MG4 a large passenger-side rear blindspot. There are no blind-spot monitors – a conspicuous safety omission.
The ride quality is also on the firm side for a passenger vehicle, especially on rough roads.
I found a few more gripes when I checked the MG a bit closer. There aren’t any second-row air-vents – sorry, kids, if it’s a hot day. The boot is a reasonable 363 litres however unlike other EVs, there isn’t under-bonnet storage space. Which seems odd, considering the MG4 has a rear-mounted single motor. There’s also no spare wheel, only a puncture repair kit.
One of the big questions is range. MG claims up to 350km is possible. Our real-world testing would suggest that’s on-the-money in the city, with 300km about right on the freeway.
If you need to go further between charges, MG offers a 64kWh model with 450km of claimed range for $47,951 drive-away, and a 77kWh, big-battery Long Range with up to 530km, for $59,391 drive-away.
While more public EV chargers being installed across South Australia, at-home charging is still best if you drive your EV daily. With a 7kW at-home wall-box, it takes about eight hours to charge the 51kWh MG4 from flat to full, bearing in mind most owners would rarely be charging a fully-depleted car.
Using a 50kW public charger, the MG4 51kWh can be topped up from 10 to 80 percent in about half an hour.
The final word
Until now, many electric cars have had some sort of major flaw – mostly cost. MG has offered the ZS EV (a small SUV) as a budget electric car, but it’s proven difficult to recommend. The MG4, however, not only brings the entry cost to EV ownership down, but it’s also an eminently recommendable vehicle.
|Warranty||7 years, unlimited kilometres|