Along with the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the MG4 is quite possibly the most anticipated new car to arrive in New Zealand for 2023 as it will become the cheapest new EV available. DriveLife headed to Sydney to check the new model out.
The launch would take place at Heffron Performance Centre, home of the Rabbitohs rugby league team. MG Motors Australia is a major sponsor of the team, and they see synergies between the two organisations, where both are family oriented and the Rabbitohs treat their players like family. It seems like a good fit, and the stunning all-new building which is the home of the Rabbitohs was a fitting place to launch an all-new model.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: MG MOTORS
Peter Ciao, CEO MG Motors Australia and New Zealand introduced us to the new model. He considers the MG4 to be a “groundbreaking moment to make EVs more accessible”. The MG4 is more than a new car, he says, he suggests it is “a new era of EV performance and accessibility which is state of the art and leading in design”.
The MG4 will be the first EV in New Zealand to break the $40,000 barrier – after the buyer claims back the clean car rebate. Obviously, that’s on the base model with a 51kWh battery, but we expect it will still tempt many buyers away from a similarly priced petrol-powered 5-door hatchback and into the world of EVs.
Country Manager for MG New Zealand Arek Zywot echoed those sentiments: “The MG4 is a new standard for electric vehicles in New Zealand. MG has brought together a brilliant mix of affordability, range and quality for drivers. It’s extremely exciting to be able to announce the first MG4s will be delivered to New Zealand purchasers this month.
“We are incredibly proud to be able to offer the most affordable new fully electric vehicle to Kiwis who want to adopt zero-emission motoring.
“MG has been leading the charge with attainable electric vehicles since the launch of the local award-winning ZS EV and, with the debut of the dynamic new MG4, including the sub-$40,000 post rebate 51KWh model, we maintain our leadership position in this space.”
Like all other MG models, the MG4 comes with a 7 year warranty, 7 years of Roadside Assistance and 7 years of WoF checks – and this is transferrable to a new owner if sold within the 7 years. Breaking news delivered at the model’s launch is that it has achieved a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
What about the all-wheel drive X-Power MG4? It’s coming and its launch will be parallel with Australia, so hopefully by the end of the year. All MG4 models currently sold in New Zealand will be rear-wheel drive. There is also talk of a pure sports-hatch offering, but no details are to hand yet.
Peter finishes his opening statements with a call for us to really test the car out today, especially on the windy roads of the Royal National Park. We’d be covering 260km of driving today, so will get a good feel for the car by day’s end.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: Kevin Kou, Product Manager
According to Kevin, “We live in our cars, we don’t just drive in them. We talk, we say goodbye, we say hello, We enjoy the comfort of the ride, the journey. We form bonds with the car and fellow passenger.” This, he says, is what the MG4 is all about.
“Our goal is to challenge the market with choice. Why buy a hybrid?” says Kevin. There might be a lot of buyers thinking the same thing.
The model is built on MG’s Modular Scalable Platform, so is a car built as an EV from the ground up and not a petrol-powered car that’s now been turned into an EV. This is an important point, as it means more space for batteries, and things like a flat floor and no transmission tunnel can be accommodated.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: MODELS AND KEY FEATURES
Features of all MG4 models include:
- 5 Driving Modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow, Custom)
- 4 Regenerative Braking Modes (1, 2, 3, Adaptive)
- One Pedal Mode
- 10.25″ Multi-function colour touch screen Apple CarPlay & Android AUTO
- MG Pilot Driver Safety Technology
- Vehicle To Load Functionality (V2L)
- SMART connectivity
- Reverse Camera
- 17″ alloy wheels with two-tone aero covers
New Zealand will see 4 models initially available;
- The $46,990 Excite 51, with a 51kWh battery pack allowing up to 350km range. The engine is a 125kW unit that gives 250Nm of torque, getting the car to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds.
- Next up is the $51,990 Excite 64, with a 64kWh battery pack allowing up to 450km. It has a 150kW electric motor and the same 250Nm of torque and gets to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds. It doesn’t have any other options over the base 51 model – it’s simply got a bigger battery and a slightly more powerful electric motor.
- The $54,990 Essence 64 is next, same size battery and engine but with more features, the highlights of which include heated front seats, Qi wireless phone charging, leather seating, electric driver’s seat, 360-degree camera system, MG Pilot with 14 features (over the lower models’ 9), 18” alloy wheels, an active intake grille shutter, and a two-tone roof.
- Top of the range for the MG4 is the $63,990 Long Range 77 model. This has a 77kWh battery pack, giving up to 530km of range. Engine power is 180kW and torque at 350Nm getting this model to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds. It has no other features over the Essence 64 so you gain more range and a more powerful engine.
All the above costs do not include the Clean Car Rebate or on-road costs.
There is a towing package coming soon, enabling the car to tow up to 500kg, but no indication of when this will be available. As mentioned, all current MG4 models are rear-wheel drive.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: EXTERIOR
With a Y-shaped bonnet and an active shutter grille (on some models), the MG4 certainly looks current in design. It’s got a real edge to the car, and we notice the front design points to the MG badge in the centre of the bonnet. With LED headlights and DRLs, it’s a sharp looker at the front.
Around the rear, there are LED taillights, and even more impressive is the LED patterning on the top of the tailgate that represents a constellation. Gimmicky? Sure, but also quite cool. There is also a full-width LED strip across the back of the car.
Some models have a “twin aero” roof spoiler, and this really makes a difference. Following a base model later in the day, the lack of that spoiler and the lack of a two-tone roof made it look quite plain.
MG says they would like us to see the MG4 as being in motion when standing still, and it seems they have achieved that. It’s a great looking hatchback from all angles.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: COMFORT/INTERIOR
Apparently there is 983mm of height for those in the front of the MG4 and 958mm for rear-seat passengers. Legroom is equally as impressive at 1070mm in the front and 895 in the rear.
MG has used a two-spoke steering wheel, and have moved to a twin-screen cockpit design, meaning a larger centre screen and a smaller driver’s dashboard.
The boot is listed as having 363 litres of space with the seats up, and 1177 litres with them down.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: PERFORMANCE/CHASSIS
Suspension in the front of this car is by McPherson struts, with five-link independent rear suspension. There is dual-pinion electric power steering that MG says will result in quicker and more responsive steering. You also get three steering modes; Light, Standard, and Sport.
The car achieves 50/50 weight distribution, something that is common among EVs with their battery packs spread out under the car. This should result in better handling.
Weight for the MG4 varies from 1,655kg for the base Excite 51, and the Excite 64 model at 1,648kg. The Essence 64 is 1,672kg and the top-spec Long Range 77 is 1,748kg.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: BATTERY/V2L/CHARGING
The new MG4 has an ultra-thin cell-to-pack battery, and this has been achieved by moving the battery management system to the side of the battery pack to reduce height. That means the entire battery pack in this car is just 110mm high, or about the same as a can of coke. Impressive stuff.
Like other MG EVs, the MG4 has Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) capability, meaning you can run electric appliances from the car’s battery pack, drawing up to a maximum of 3.3kW of power. The cable to actually use V2L is an option, at $279.
Using a fairly common 50kW public charger, the Excite 51 will take 40 minutes to charge from empty to 80%, any 64kWh battery model will take 60 minutes, and the Long Range 77 will take 75 minutes. Looking at the charging graph, the state of charge drops off considerably at 60% charge, so if you are on a long trip with your MG4 you might want to stop charging it at 60% and simply do smaller charges up to that point when needed.
The 64kWh battery is also capable of recharging at up to 140kW, meaning a charge time of only 26 minutes from 10% – 80% using a 150kW DC rapid charger.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: COLOURS
You get to pick from 7 colours for your MG4;
- Dover White
- Brixton Blue
- Black Pearl
- Camden Grey
- Sterling Silver
- Dynamic Red
- Volcano Orange
While I expect most buyers will go for a boring silver or grey, the brighter colours are outstanding. Volcano Orange is the MG4’s hero colour, and it pops like nothing else.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: SUPPLY
When asked about supply of the new model, Peter Ciao was quick to say there is no issue – they have MG4s available now, and future supply is assured. Currently there are 15 MG dealers in New Zealand, and MG has signalled that more are due to open in the near future.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: DRIVE TIME
Talking and presentations over, it was time to hit the road. We’d be heading on a 260km drive, ending up at Centennial Vineyards in Bowral for lunch.
We got into a Essence 64 to start with, me as passenger. First impressions of the interior were mixed; it seems spacious, but also not so much; with an all-black interior, it can feel a bit closed in. None of the models we had today had anything but a black interior, which is a shame.
Still, it all feels well-made and slightly higher end than I’d expect from MG. Not that MG is not good with interiors – the new MG ZS EV I drove from Auckland to Wellington was very well finished. The lack of controls and clutter makes the MG4 feel more luxurious and high-tech. There are some nice materials used in the interior, with some hard plastics in places where they are needed (for example, lower doors) but are not really seen.
Thankfully, there are still some physical buttons below the screen for audio volume and some other much-used controls. Surprisingly for an all-new model, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can only be used via a USB cable, which feels a bit old-school.
Overall ride quality is good and on the motorway, there is almost absolute silence with almost no road or tyre noise, and minimal wind noise. A change in road surface did bring out some tyre noise, but a main takeaway from me for the whole day is a high level of driving refinement in the new MG4.
Playing around with the centre screen, there is an absolute plethora of options to choose from. The resolution is excellent, and the pages are quick to change. One of the options is around brake regeneration (regen). While the MG4 doesn’t have steering wheel paddles for regen adjustment, you can select from 3 levels from the centre screen, and also Adaptive Regen is a further option. Adaptive regen means the car will apply more regen when it’s needed, such as if a car pulls into your lane and you take your foot off the accelerator. There is also a separate one-pedal option, so you should barely need to use the brakes at all if you use one-pedal.
Getting behind the wheel and flooring it in Sport mode, the car picks up well to merge onto the motorway. I wasn’t expecting too much performance, but its relatively light weight (for an EV) and 250Nm of torque equals peppy performance. We eventually left the motorway and headed to the Royal National Park, a road with many twists and bends and accordingly speed camera vans. While we were in convoy and couldn’t really push the car too much, it sits extremely well on the corners with seemingly neutral handling. The steering is good too, with reasonable feedback. We’ll wait until we get one to review to really test it out.
Switching the car into Eco mode, and performance is still very good, easily good enough for day-to-day driving. Due to roadworks on that road, we ended up stuck behind a line of MG4s, and it was an opportune moment to reflect on the car’s rear design of the one in front of us. It’s nice, but I’d definitely be stumping up for the higher-spec model with the roof spoiler – it just looks that much better. Other things we noticed include what is possibly the world’s smallest rear-window wiper. It has to be small otherwise it would hit the roof spoiler, but it is tiny. But hey, with seemingly more and more brands dumping the rear window wiper for the sake of design, at least the MG4 has one. Our last observation was of the panel fit on the car in front. The gap on one side of the tailgate was a lot bigger than the other side, which is a concern. But we didn’t see this on any other MG4s, so hopefully just a one-off.
After lunch, it was time to get into the base model Excite 51 for the return trip, a 115km drive. Our car had 128km of range left so to be cautious, I stuck the car in Eco mode and drove as smoothly as possible, I managed 12.9kWh/100km for energy economy, which is an excellent result. Needless to say, we made it back with plenty of range left in the car.
2023 MG4 LAUNCH: SUMMARY
First impressions of the MG4 are excellent; it’s superb to drive, very refined and excellently priced – not to mention MG’s 7/7/7 deal.
It’s going to be hard for MG not to sell loads of these cars. I think their main problem will be convincing buyers that they don’t need an SUV, and a 5-door hatchback will do the job. Let’s be honest, for most people a hatchback will do the job, but they’ve convinced themselves they must have an SUV.
The MG4 will hopefully change that view. With pricing in comparison to a petrol-powered hatchback closer than ever before, MG has a winner on its hands with the MG4.
We’ve locked one in for one of our normal full-length, comprehensive reviews and that will really tell us if the MG4 is worthy of purchasing.