The prices associated with the technical sheet of the MG 4 are particularly attractive, but do they help to digest huge defects? To find out, our tester Maxime Fontanier (finally!) took the wheel.
The MG 4 is a 4.29 m long electric compact, 9 cm longer than the Electric Renault Megane which is placed in France as its very designated competitor. It is built on the basis of an entirely new platform housing a very thin horizontal battery pack in its wheelbase, which allows it to be placed as close to the ground as possible and to lower the center of gravity accordingly. Like a Volkswagen ID.3, another rival, there is a permanent magnet synchronous motor at the rear axle, which makes it a propulsion, knowing that a version with dual motor and all-wheel drive will arrive later developing up to 450 hp. In its basic Standard finish, that of our test model, this 170 hp engine, so far unique, is powered by an LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery with a gross capacity of 51 kWh, which gives 48 kWh net. In the Comfort or Luxury finish, the battery switches to NMC technology (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) as well as to 64 kWh to power an engine then developing 204 hp. Admittedly, LFPs have a lower energy density than NMCs, but they are much more enduring, withstanding more than twice the number of charge cycles.
A basic model already well endowed
The entry-level Standard finish that we are trying today offers a rather convincing endowment since it receives in particular standard fully LED optics at the front and rear. Granted, its 16-inch rims are sheet metal with black hubcaps, which is less premium than alloy ones, but cost less to buy and when it’s time to switch to winter tyres. The general style is sporty with generous air intakes (closed by active flaps on the upper finishes to be able either to optimize aerodynamics or the cooling of the battery) as well as a blade under the carbon-style shield. The same material is applied to the side sills, thus combining aesthetics and protection against shocks. The rear part is also very dynamic with this spoiler so pronounced that it goes beyond the thin shield incorporating an F1-style diffuser. As for the orange paint of our test model, particularly well applied to the inside of the openings, know that it is invoiced 650 €.
A small trunk, but room for rear passengers
The trunk of the MG 4 offers 363 liters in five-seater configuration, a small volume for the category since the Megane offers 440 liters. By folding the backrests 2/3 1/3, we then obtain 1,177 litres, but the floor is not flat (unlike the Comfort and Luxury models which inherit a shelf allowing the load to be raised) and the wheel arches are imposing, diminishing the practical aspect. Unfortunately, there is no false bottom under the trunk floor to store cables or frunky under the front cover.
At the rear, there is plenty of room thanks to a generous wheelbase of 2.70 m so there is not much trunk, but more knee space than in a Megane, with the possibility of sliding the feet under the front seat cushions. Sporting quality seals, the doors are wide, allowing easy access, with long armrests and windows that can be lowered to the bottom. Three adults can even sit comfortably on the bench thanks to the absence of a central armrest at this level of equipment, which allows for a softer backrest in addition to the reduced service tunnel. If there is no purse at the back of the front seatbacks, nor a grab handle or even lighting, the passengers can however take advantage of a small storage space in the middle, just below a socket. USB, and in the storm doors. Unused belt buckles have, well sometimes, a tendency to rub noisily on the plastic edges, but that is in the detail.
A flattering dashboard
At the front, the presentation is very modern, with 7-inch digital instrumentation and a central 10.25-inch multimedia screen (both however suffering from significant reflections and quickly becoming covered in fingerprints), a parking brake automatic, a nice two-spoke steering wheel, without leather here, but still pleasant to handle, and satisfactory ergonomics. The general atmosphere is very correct and has nothing to envy to European standards with an upper part of the padded dashboard even if the door panels have rigid plastic in their upper part. An ID.3 or a Megane aren’t much better. There are other rather spacious storage spaces in the doors, but nevertheless lacking on the non-slip bottom to which the storage compartment on the central console is nevertheless entitled where the induction charger is located on the upper finishes. Between the two seats, there is a large hidden niche with two cup holders, two USB A and C sockets and a small retaining net that can accommodate a mobile phone. Hiding a new storage space, the central armrest is not however adjustable like the passenger seat with a fixed base in its height. Its design as well as its robust fabric, like that obviously of the driver, are very pleasant, with good lateral support. The glove compartment is illuminated, but not very spacious and without protection inside.
The presentation of the instrumentation is very readable and is controlled via buttons on the steering wheel (which adjusts in height and depth over a good amplitude), while the multimedia system is with touch controls. On the main menu of the latter, we have direct access to the air conditioning, the radio and the percentage of remaining battery. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, but require a cable to connect and thus provide access to navigation software, such as Waze, the MG 4 being lacking on its entry level. In the sub-menus, we otherwise have access to the different modes of the car (Snow, Eco, Normal, Sport or Custom, which acts on the consistency of the accelerator, the brake and the steering wheel) and to the settings of the energy recovery intensity (Low, Standard, High or Adaptive).
Amazing behavior on the road
When setting off for the test, we note the absence, even as an option, of a reversing camera on this model at this level: there is just a radar and only at the rear. On the other hand, the MG 4 turns extremely well with 10.6 m in diameter, almost as well as a Volkswagen ID.3, both being favored here by their propulsion nature. Once launched, failing to have pallets, you can adjust via a button on the steering wheel the intensity of regenerative braking. The latter, even in the Strong setting, does not show itself to be very biting and remains very far from an e-Pedal type operation, always requiring the use of the brake, which is often the fault of Chinese cars. At low speed, the electric motor is heard by a small whistle, but the car is light and smooth from the first meters. Even in Eco mode, the accelerations are all there is more vigorous. With the regeneration on the adaptive adjustment, the cameras are used to slow down the car when necessary, which also makes it possible to have emergency braking assistance and active cruise control also working in traffic jams. Visibility is very good at the level of the mirrors, but it is however a pity not to have a wiper at the rear.
A small, winding county road is the perfect place to try Sport mode. Even if a little firm at low speed if you want to quibble, the suspensions, uncontrolled, are comfortable, well helped by the high sidewall tires and, with 1,655 kg empty on the scale, or about 150 more than a Megane EV40 and as much as an EV60, its mass is average. Its behavior is worthy of a propulsion: it is perhaps not as engaging at the level of the front axle as the Renault, but the direction is very well calibrated with a good feeling also at the level of the brake pedal with a bite instantaneous, which is rare on electric cars. Unlike the French, which is traction, the 250 Nm are transmitted entirely to the tarmac even when exiting a bend, which gives you confidence and even allows you to learn a little controlled sliding when you wish. What a contrast to previous electric MGs! It’s a great surprise to discover here a sporty compact despite ordinary Kumho tires which manage very well, at least in the dry, thanks to a low center of gravity and a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Comfortable, but noisy on the highway
On the highway, the maximum authorized speed is very quickly reached, even if the MG 4 can climb up to 160 km/h at peak, with a 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 s. This time makes this entry-level 170 bhp the best performer at acceleration in the current range, with the extra 34 bhp of the top trims being absorbed by the larger mass, ultimately adding 0.2s to the stopwatch.
The adaptive cruise control is controlled via a button on the steering wheel, unlike other MGs equipped with a dedicated commodo, with well thought out ergonomics. It is perhaps sometimes a little brutal in its braking, but the competition does not do much better. It joins the complete standard endowment in driving assistance with effective maintenance in the TJA line and emergency braking assistance, which is not common, especially at this price level.
Along with the low trunk volume, soundproofing is one of the weak points. It is very quiet up to 110 km/h, but wind noise is intrusive from 120 and adds to rolling noise.
Autonomy and recharging are not among the strong points, but…
In terms of autonomy, the official WLTP figure is 350 km on this Standard version and 450 on the 64 kWh models but, in reality, we can expect to cover around 300 km in urban use with a consumption between 17 and 19 kWh/ 100 km while it will climb to 21, 22, or even 24 kWh/100 km if you want to be at 130 km/h on the motorway, which will require a stop every 200 km to remain calm.
In terms of recharging, the MG 4 Standard can collect on paper up to 117 kW in direct current, against 135 for the Comfort and Luxury, but we could not exceed 84 kW by starting the load below 30% battery, which is not extraordinary. In alternating current, we can expect a maximum of 6.6 kW on the entry level and up to 11 for the more opulent models. A very interesting feature, this MG 4 benefits from the standard V2L reverse charge with a maximum power of 2.2 kW.
… the prices are unbeatable
Let’s finish with the prices: for once, an electric car is not overpriced since the MG 4 starts at €28,990, or €22,990 once the bonus has been deducted, which is the price of a Fiat 500 or a Renault Zoe while it is a compact 170 hp. A canon price that makes it very easy to forget the faults. How amazed is our tester Maxime Fontanier by this MG 4, he who has tested all the electric cars of the last decade? To the point of thinking strongly about signing an order form for this exact version. Nothing less.