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Why this latest EV from MG is one to watch for families

New electric arrival mixes price and value for money with keen driving 


The MG4 EV stands out from the crowd and has a lot of interior space due to its stretched wheelbase

The MG4 EV stands out from the crowd and has a lot of interior space due to its stretched wheelbase

The MG4 EV stands out from the crowd and has a lot of interior space due to its stretched wheelbase

I think it’s only fair to point out that I haven’t had the best of times with MG electric cars. You may remember I ran out of battery on one fateful test in its crossover ZS due to the amount of range falling inexplicably fast.

So it was with the hum of an alarm bell in the back of my head that I set out to test the latest arrival, the MG4. I’ll try, briefly, to put this new car in context.

The MG brand is Chinese-owned, as you know. Only the name remains of the once-mighty British company. 

Engineering and everything else make this a Chinese car from top to bottom.

This new car approaches the internal usable room of a Ford Focus five-door hatchback or VW Golf with a hint of estate exterior styling. That is styling you will like or not. It stands out because it can, as it sits on a new platform (called MSP) that’s different from previous models such as the crossover I mentioned.

That platform will launch many more new models. A key perceived target with this first foray is the Volkswagen ID3.

It is rear-wheel driven and has two battery sizes (51kWh, 64kWh). The larger battery can be charged at up to 135kW, which means you can replenish from 10pc to 80pc in 35 minutes.

Claimed range spans 350km to 450km depending on the model. And it has a seven-year warranty. There’s a confidence builder if ever there was one.

Considering its exterior dimensions, there is a lot of interior space – cabin, small storage areas and boot – due to a stretched 2,705mm wheelbase and, in the case of the luggage department, by thin battery technology (just 110mm depth).

Inside, my top-of-range version was a bit on the dark side because of its black leather-effect upholstery and greyish surrounds.

That said, the seating was comfortable and, in my car’s case, the driver’s seat had electrical adjustment. So I ended up with the driving position of a small crossover which gave me great visibility all round.

I like the idea of the flattened steering wheel, too. However, I initially struggled with the faint nature of illustration on the 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The graphics/letter sizes were just a bit too small for my liking. The seven-inch driver display was much better.

But there was no chance of me misreading what was left in the battery. In solid green the numeric, and percentage, of remaining energy was proclaimed on both screens. If I were to run out of charge it would have been no one’s fault but mine this time.

No, this was a different kettle of fish entirely, with the battery being miserly in its distribution of power. That didn’t mean I was tiptoeing through my journeys. Quite a bit was on motorways at decent speeds.

So I hope that brings me up to date on most of the core elements of the MG4.

I’ve left three other major considerations for mention at this phase of the review because they can be critical for anyone thinking of buying an electric car. I was greatly taken by how the MG4 behaved and handled on the road. It is not something you necessarily associate with a compact family EV hatch but in this case it’s worth mentioning because it brings a brio not found in too many EVs of this stature.

It did really well on twisty, hilly roads and seemed to ease over humps and bumps that a few other cars I’ve driven felt like they had been walloped.

It’s made possible by 50:50 weight distribution, the rear-wheel drive set-up and low centre of gravity.

Finally, there is a lot of spec. The accompanying factfile is illustrative rather than exhaustive. Even on the entry-level model there is an impressive level of safety and comfort items on board.

When I stacked that up against the price of the car, I did something of a double-take – such is the level of what I think is genuine value for money.

The latter is patently obvious but can often be offset against diminished attributes elsewhere – such as handling and overall quality. There are few signs of cheap and cheerful here.

And that makes comparison with the likes of the Volkswagen ID3 or Renault Megane E-Tech all the more biting as they are thousands more expensive. Even smaller EVs, such as Peugeot’s 208 EV and Renault’s electric Zoe cost more.

I’m not going to get into arguments positing like-for-like comparisons.

There is a simple fact: the MG4 is an electric family “hatchback” you ignore at your peril.

My alarm bells were quickly quietened by this display of newcomer nous. I suspect they may be ringing for different reasons in the offices of the MG4’s rivals.

Fact File

MG4 EV 5dr. From €27,495 (entry-level Excite Standard Range), Excite Long Range €30,995, Exclusive Long Range (tested) €35,195. 51kWh to 64kWh battery, Excite Standard Range 350km, Long Range Excite 450km, Exclusive 435km. Seven-year warranty. 10.25in infotainment screen, 7in driver display. MG Pilot advanced driver assistance system, 17in alloys, adaptive cruise control. Long Range Exclusive adds upgraded MG Pilot system, rear privacy glass, leather style interior, 360-degree camera.

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