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Monday, March 4, 2024

Silent MG making a big noise in car world

MG4 EV drive by Steve Rogers

The Japanese did it in the seventies, now the Chinese are turning the car market upside down.

Leading the charge is MG, once a British icon, now part of a pretty big state owned Chinese car company which has been the UK's fastest growing car maker for umpteen years. And it is this model that is making the biggest noise even though it makes no noise... it's electric.

The MG4 has probably won more plaudits than any other electric car, for a few reasons: It is downright good, looks fantastic, and exceptional value for money.

How exceptional? About eight grand less than its Volkswagen iD.3 rival. True, MG4 is classed as a budget model but if you are thinking this has been stripped to the bare bones to save money think again.

It has an extensive spec list and all the important safety features found on cars these days including emergency braking and cross traffic alert to help avoid reversing shunts.

The 4 is big news for MG because it marks a fresh start. The car is built on a new EV platform that will spawn a range of cars. The wheelbase is longer to accommodate the battery pack which is only 11cm deep and sits snuggly between the axles.

This thin layer gives the cabin a flat floor helping to create a roomy family hatchback.

The price range is even more significant because it starts at a class beating £27k. For that you get the SE standard entry with a range of 218 miles from a 51kWh battery, moving up to 64kWh with a potential 281 miles, or the extended model with a 77kWh battery and up to 323 miles. That is the car tested here and is still a bargain at £36,495.

As with all electric powered cars performance is brisk and while the MG is not in the firecracker division it is quick off the mark for safe, easy overtaking. But remember, too much hard driving quickly sucks miles out of the battery. One good thing about electric cars is they tend to make you drive slower.

Planning a long journey is essential and if the car's battery will take a 150kw charge topping up from zero to 80 per cent (about 280 miles for the extended range) will take around half an hour but if there is still around 60 miles left you could be on your way in 20 minutes.

MGs heritage is sports cars and the 4 stays true to its routes with rear wheel drive so the balance and handling is more than tidy thanks in no small part to its 50-50 weight distribution.

An area that could be improved is the suspension which is a bit unforgiving on anything other than smooth roads so you feel quite a thud over potholes.

Inside is fairly minimalist with just a few quick key switches along the dashboard,  otherwise everything is stored in the 10.25in central infotainment touchscreen.

It is best to take 15 minutes 'play time' because it is not the easiest to master and there is rather too much dabbing trying to make a selection on the move. I found the lane hold system too aggressive and would have preferred a steering wheel switch to turn it off rather than prod away at the touchscreen. Steering wheel toggles help with some functions but this too is best figured out while stationary.

I liked the innovative floating centre console which was in keeping with the whole modern look to the cabin, but got the thumbs down from a couple of passengers because the USB charging points are unsighted, while reaching for the cupholder trays is also awkward. A bit over picky I thought.

There is a good spec from entry model and the top of the range Trophy benefits from a 360 degree camera, wireless phone charging, navigation, heated steering wheel and seats. What's missing? A powered tailgate because, like the front doors, it is heavy when opening.

MG has given a reality check to what seems like over the top pricing for electric cars and begs the question If they can do it, and still produce a top class car, why can't the rest?

Fast facts

Trophy Extended Range


Electric motor: 241bhp

Range: 323 miles

Battery: 77kwh

0-60mph 6.1secs; 112mph

Emissions: Zero

Insurance group 33

Boot: 363-1165 litres

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