Video test – MG 4: European manufacturers, beef!

The prices associated with the MG 4 technical sheet are particularly attractive, but do they help digest major flaws? 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 placed in France as its highly preferred competitor. It is built on an all-new platform with a very thin horizontal battery pack in the wheelbase, allowing it to be positioned as close to the ground as possible and the center of gravity lowered accordingly. Such as a Volkswagen ID.3, another rival, we find a permanent magnet synchronous motor on the rear axle, making it a propulsion, knowing that later there will be a twin-engine, all-wheel drive version with a power of up to 450 hp. In its 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 amounts to 48 kWh net. In the Comfort or Luxury version, the battery switches to NMC technology (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) and to 64 kWh to power a motor that then develops 204 hp. Granted, LFPs have a lower energy density than NMCs, but they are much more durable and can withstand more than twice as many charge cycles.

A basic model that is already well endowed

The entry-level stock finish we’re trying on today offers a rather compelling gift, as it notably gets full LED optics on the front and rear as standard. Granted, the 16-inch rims are sheet steel with black hubcaps, which is less premium than alloy wheels, but cost less to buy and when it comes time to switch to winter tires. The overall styling is sporty with generous air intakes (closed by active flaps on the top finishes to optimize aerodynamics or battery cooling) and a blade under the carbon-like shield. The same material is applied to the sills, combining aesthetics and impact protection. The rear is also very dynamic with this spoiler so pronounced that it extends beyond the thin shield containing 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 will be billed 650 €.

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A small suitcase but room for rear passengers

The trunk of the MG 4 offers 363 liters in a five-seat configuration, a small volume for the category as the Mégane offers 440 liters. By folding the backrests 2/3 1/3 we get then 1,177 liters, but the floor is not flat (unlike the Comfort and Luxury models which inherit a shelf to lift the load) and the wheel arches are impressive, leaving the practicality. Unfortunately there is no false bottom under the boot floor to store cables or frunky under the front cover.

There’s plenty of room in the rear thanks to a generous 2.70m wheelbase which means there’s not much trunk space, but more knee room than in a Mégane, with the ability to slide your feet under the front seat cushions. Sporting quality seals, the doors are wide, making them easy to access, with long armrests and windows that can be lowered to the bottom. Three adults can even sit comfortably on the sofa thanks to the lack of a center armrest on this trim level, which allows for a softer backrest in addition to the reduced service tunnel. If there is no wallet in the back of the front seats, no grab bars or even lights, passengers can take advantage of a small storage space in the middle, just below a power socket, USB and in the storm doors. Unused belt buckles sometimes have to rub hard on the plastic edges, but that’s 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, suffer from significant reflections and quickly covered with fingerprints), a parking brake machine, a nice two-spoke steering wheel, here without leather , but still pleasant to handle, and satisfying ergonomics. The general atmosphere is very correct and has nothing to envy by European standards with an upper part of the padded dashboard, even if the door panels in their upper part are made of hard plastic. An ID.3 or a Mégane are not much better. There are other fairly spacious storage spaces in the doors, but nevertheless missing on the non-slip bottom where the storage compartment on the center console is still entitled to where the induction charger is located at the top. Between the two seats is a large hidden alcove with two cup holders, two USB A and C connections and a small storage net that fits a mobile phone. The center armrest hides a new storage space, but it is not adjustable like the passenger seat with a fixed foot in height. The design and the robust fabric, like that 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 are adjustable in height and depth over a good amplitude), while the multimedia system is with touch controls. In the main menu of the latter we have direct access to the air conditioning, the radio and the percentage of battery remaining. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard but require a cable to connect and thus provide access to navigation software, such as Waze, the MG 4 is missing at the entry level. In the submenus we can otherwise access the different modes of the car (Snow, Eco, Normal, Sport or Custom, which acts on the consistency of the accelerator, brake and steering wheel) and to the energy recovery intensity settings ( Low, Standard, High or Adaptive).

Amazing behavior on the road

When pulling away for the test, we notice at this level the lack, even as an option, of a rear view camera on this model: there is only a radar and only at the rear. On the other hand, the MG 4 turns extremely well with a diameter of 10.6 m, almost as well as a Volkswagen ID.3, both of which are preferred here for their propulsion character. Once launched, without pallets, a button on the handlebar allows you to adjust the intensity of regenerative braking. The latter, even in the Strong setting, proves not to be very corrosive and remains far from an e-Pedal-like operation, always requiring the use of the brake, which is often the fault of Chinese cars. At low speed, the electric motor can be heard by a small whistle, but the car is light and smooth from the first meters. Even in Eco mode, the only thing more powerful is the acceleration. With the regeneration on the adaptive adjustment, the cameras are used to slow down the car when needed, which also makes it possible for emergency braking assistance and active cruise control to work even in traffic jams. Visibility is very good at the level of the mirrors, but it is a pity not to have a wiper at the rear.

A small, winding country road is the perfect place to try Sport mode. Even if a little firm at low speed if you want to quibble, the suspension is, uncontrolled, comfortable, well aided by the tall sidewall tires and, at 1,655kg empty on the scale, or about 150 more than a Mégane EV40 and as much as an EV60 is the weight average. Its behavior is worthy of propulsion: it may not be as captivating at the front axle level as the Renault, but the direction is very well calibrated with a good feel, also at the brake pedal level with an immediate bite, which rarely comes for electric cars. Unlike the French, who are traction, the 250 Nm is fully transferred to the tarmac, even when exiting a bend, which gives you confidence and you can even learn a little controlled sliding when you want. What a contrast to previous electric MGs! It’s a big surprise to discover a sporty compact here, despite regular Kumho tires that perform very well, at least in dry conditions, thanks to a low center of gravity and perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

Comfortable but noisy on the highway

On the highway, the maximum allowed speed is reached very quickly, even though the MG 4 can climb to 160 km/h at peak, with a 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds. This time, this entry-level 170 horsepower makes the best-performing acceleration in the current range, with the extra 34 horsepower from the top-end versions being absorbed by the increased mass, ultimately adding 0.2s to the stopwatch.

The adaptive cruise control is operated via a button on the steering wheel, unlike other MGs that are equipped with a special commander, with thoughtful ergonomics. It may be a bit brutal in its braking at times, but the competition doesn’t do much better. It combines the complete standard equipment in driver assistance with effective maintenance in the TJA line and emergency braking assistance, which is not common, especially at this price level.

In addition to the low boot volume, sound insulation is one of the weak points. It is very quiet up to 110 km/h, but wind noise is ubiquitous from 120 and adds to the rolling noise.

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Autonomy and charging 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 hope to drive about 300 km in the city with a consumption between 17 and 19 kWh/100 km while it will rise to 21, 22 or even 24 kWh/100 km if you want to get 130 km/h on the highway, which requires you to stop every 200 km to keep calm.

In terms of charging, the MG 4 Standard can on paper collect up to 117 kW in DC, compared to 135 for Comfort and Luxe, but we couldn’t exceed 84 kW by charging the battery below 30%, which is not extraordinary. With AC 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 control with a maximum power of 2.2 kW.

… the prices are unbeatable

Let’s finish with the prices: For once, an electric car isn’t too expensive, as the MG 4 starts at €28,990, or €22,990 once the bonus is 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 mistakes. How impressed is our tester Maxime Fontanier with this MG 4, he who has tested all the electric cars of the past decade? To the point of thinking strongly about signing an order form for this exact version. Nothing less.