MG4: why the Renault Mégane E-Tech might worry
For more than two years, MG organized its return to the European market with generic products, the main argument of which was a canon price. Since the restyling of the electric ZS, which took place at the beginning of 2021, the Chinese manufacturer has added services largely up to the competition. The MG4 take a new step. No more impersonal lines: this new electric compact shows real character and does not copy its style from any rival. Better yet, it displays some gimmicks that echo MG’s British roots. This is the case for the lines of the hood and the front bumper, which intersect in a way reminiscent of the Union Jack, the famous flag of the United Kingdom. In short, the MG4 has personality, and we would even dare to go further: its styling resembles the natural that a compact MG might have used, if the brand had not gone bankrupt in 2005, before being bought by a Chinese industrialist.
Not only does the MG4’s presentation look good, but it also spearheading MG’s ambitions for Europe. Because it is really for the clients of the Old Continent it is designed as a priority. The Chinese group SAIC developed a unique technical platform for this compact, called MSP (Modular Scalable Platform). Basically, it integrates the battery into the chassis. It is distinguished by its thinness of 11 cm, made possible by the organization of cells, which are not grouped by modules but directly connected to each other. This allows you to maintain a comfortable posture in the rear seats, while many rivals have seats too close to the ground, due to a raised floor. As always with MG, two types of accumulators are offered. At the entry level, there is a 51 kWh lithium iron-phosphate battery, and the alternative is a 64 kWh NMC 523 lithium battery. In both cases, cells are supplied by CATL.
A sexy MG 4 on the outside, less so on the inside
If the MG4 is sexier than any other model in the range, we can only be disappointed by its finish. From the outside, there are protruding, rough and very exposed side members under the chassis in case of friction, which can cause the beginning of corrosion. Inside, the furniture shows clean lines, but the materials look less rich than the ZS SUV. Hard plastics are legion, the environment is unappealing.
In the life on board department, the biggest regret remains the ergonomics. The central screen uses software that convinced us of its simplicity on the ZS EV or the MG5. While the menu arrangement is still relevant, the loss of shortcut keys imposes too many clicks to move from one menu to another. The worst is about accessing the air conditioning: a simple button brings up the menu… but it only stays displayed for a few seconds! It’s scary when driving. To show it continuously, you have to go through the main menu page. And regardless of the path chosen, the automatic air conditioning mode appears too aggressive, as always in MG. We also railed against the buttons on the steering wheel, which change function according to the on-screen displays, while certain commands, such as adjusting the distance of the adaptive cruise control, are hidden at the bottom of a menu. Many manufacturers have indulged in nightmare ergonomics by trying to streamline the style of their dashboards. Unfortunately MG is one of them.
The MG4 is a fun-to-drive RWD
In almost all the models in its range, MG manages to offer interesting performance on the road, worthy of its sporting heritage. Many do not expect much from products designed in China. With its new compact, the brand wants to go further: the choice of a function architecture says, MG wants to target driving enthusiasts. What is true of the first versions offered at launch should be more in the future. The brand is already announcing a future four-wheel-drive version, with 450 hp… More than a Mercedes-AMG A45!
Indeed, our test on the roads of Provence revealed a certain dynamism on the part of the MG4. Like many electric cars, this compact exhibits near-perfect mass centering. Here is added quite sophisticated running gear, with a multi-link rear axle. The balance is quite playful, the back accepting the rotation as the foot lifts. Even better: in Sport mode, you can keep the rear wheels slightly slipping when accelerating.
On a smooth road, the attitude is even playful. But the suspension on relatively loose damping imposes body motion on large undulations of the road, to the point where the car sometimes becomes destabilized. The same goes for heavy braking where the rear, fully relieved, sometimes wants to take a little freedom. In medium deformations (small bumps, speed cushions, etc.), on the contrary, the springs show their stability. Jolts are unpleasant for passengers, especially since the pumping frequency is quite high (1.35 Hz in the front, 1.6 Hz in the rear).
Perfect steering and damping
The steering, quite direct (it shows a gear ratio of 14.8:1) doesn’t have any play around the midpoint. What must be ensured a good response to small steering angles. Unfortunately, agility loses its luster on hairpins and tight curves. It is necessary to act more than reasoning with the hoop, whose irregular shape reminds of the Austin Allegro… an old brand from the same MG group. Driving sensations are somewhat spoiled. It is difficult to say whether this laziness in registration comes from the adjustment of the running gear or the choice of tires (Continental Premium Contact in our test copy). A variable-pitch rack can solve the problem.
The engine, with a power of 204 hp, delivers quite comfortable pick-ups: MG announced a 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and we measured the recovery from 80 to 120 km/h in 4.8 seconds. Performance is almost worthy of a sports compact. They run out of steam moderately as the battery drains, as 80 to 120 km/h is measured in 5.4 seconds on a 20% charge. Still very noble. When climbing a mountain pass at high speed, however, we noticed a fairly significant loss of power, which is related to the heating of the battery.
The MG4 as versatile as the Volkswagen ID.3
The MG4 is flawed, but its playful demeanor makes it more fun to drive than a Volkswagen ID.3 Pro or Renault Mégane E-Tech EV60. The fact remains that in the current state of technology, the most important thing about an electric vehicle is still its autonomy and its charging capacities. If there’s one point where this compact defends itself well, it’s consumption. The average taken from 24 kWh/100 km on the highway is in the average category, and suggests a range of 260 km no margin. On the road, appetite drops to 17 kWh/100 km, bringing the range to 360 km. Pretty decent.
Regarding the load capacity, our tests gave inconsistent results. We found one maximum power of 145 kW, a good value for the category. But, starting with our load at 10%, we saw two big drops in power at 11 kW (at 46% and 53% load), each lasting four minutes! What strangely lowers the performance of this model is otherwise among the references. It took us 40 minutes to reach 80% and an hour to reach 97%… Threshold where the charge stops on its own, without explanation. And our copy is not an isolated case: all MG4s present during the presentation were automatically cut off at 97%, and power outages were observed in other models, starting to load at 10% Starting at 20%, on the other hand, the operation is non-stop. We assume that an insufficiently efficient cooling system is the cause of this phenomenon.
In our highway testing, we found this compact to have a fiber traveler. Wind noise is definitely a bit present at 130 km/h, but the soundproofing is generally satisfactory. It must be said that the brand has preserved the vibratory rigidity of its bodywork, with a natural frequency of 50 Hz, worthy of the top-of-the-range. Unfortunately, some resonances remain sensitive to the level of the battery box. We are on the highway disappointed with the quality of the driving aids: cruise control that slows down for no reason when turning, lane keeping assistance with completely chaotic behavior… There is still a long way to go before reaching the level of the best.
MG still needs to work to elevate its compact to the level of the best… But the benefits are already there, and this car still shows a hint of elegance, which is increasingly rare these days. More importantly, it puts the argument of a lower prices than its rivals, from €34,990 in a fully equipped Luxury finish (heated seats and steering wheel, induction smartphone charger, driving aids, etc.). For comparison, a Volkswagen ID.3 starts at €46,100 and a Renault Mégane E-Tech EV60 asks for at least €42,000. Even the aging Nissan Leaf e+ starts at €43,050. In short, the MG4 is a bargain, and it’s even more attractive. Again, the Chinese manufacturer gives hope for the best for the future. This compact is perhaps the first step towards a real renaissance, let’s hope that its minor imperfections are quickly corrected.
- Pleasant road manners
- Sympathetic performances
- Price/performance ratio
- Perfect amortization
- Infernal ergonomics
- Perfect manufacturing quality
- The battery is sensitive to overheating
- Behavior on the road3/5
- Quality of presentation3/5
- Practical aspects4/5