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2023 MG MG4 Excite review (video)

MG4 enters the market as one of the cheapest EVs on sale in Australia

MG is one of the fastest-growing carmakers in Australia, and with that growth comes investment and development. The newly-introduced 2023 MG MG4 is the latest recipient of those efforts.

It’s based on parent company, SAIC Motor’s brand new platform called the Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), featuring the latest battery tech and user interface philosophy. The MG4 also happens to be one of the most affordable EVs on the market.

2023 MG MG4 Excite: Specifications

Battery: 51kWh
Output: 125kW / 250Nm
Gearbox: One-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 17×7.0, 215/50
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1635kg
Power-to-weight: 13.08:1 (kg:kW)
Official WLTP range: 350km
Max charging: 88kW DC
0-60km/h: 3.89 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.64 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.17 seconds*
1/4 mile: 15.78 seconds at 146.2km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.670g*
100-0km/h braking: 37.67 metres at 3.00*
Max deceleration: -1.382g*
Decibel at idle: 21*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 70*
Starting price: $38,990

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 MG MG4 Excite: How much does it cost?

Four variants are on sale in Australia, spanning from the Excite 51 (51kWh), Excite (64kWh), Essence (64kWh), and Long Range (77kWh). The junior of the Excite models is the first to arrive and it’s priced from just $38,990 (excluding on-road costs), as tested here.

The only cheaper EV on sale in Australia at the moment is the BYD Dolphin (also Chinese), which just undercuts this, starting from $38,890. To compare the basic specs, this MG4 features a 51kWh battery and offers 350km range, while the BYD uses a 44.9kWh battery and offers 340km. However, the MG generates 125kW and the Dolphin produces just 70kW.

2023 MG MG4 Excite: Interior & packaging

This new MSP layout provides great packaging inside, with an almost flat floor and a good use of space, as per typical of modern EVs. It does look like an EV inside, just in the dash design and some futuristic elements, but overall it is approachable and friendly to interact with.

Protruding out from the dash is a rather awkward fixture that looks like a diving platform or something. It houses the rotary gear selector and rubber-padded wireless charging nest (only on Essence). The phone pad is nice and big, unlike in some cars, and the rubber pad is grippy enough to hold your phone in place.

However, the pointy bit of the console that contains the gear selector is annoying because it gets in the way, visually, and seems a bit pointless. It’d be better if the gear selector system was mounted on the dash. It’s all electric so it doesn’t need a large console to accommodate linkages and so on, so why not just place a simple toggle switch out of the way?

The platform restricts access to the dual cup holders underneath and, if you bend your neck sideways, you’ll see there is a 12V socket, and USB-A and USB-C outlet under there. But these are difficult to access due to the pointless gear selector platform.

Down on the console is a large tray (again, rubber lined), as well as a decent-sized centre box and arm rest lid. Reasonably big bottle holders are in the doors, with narrowing pockets leading back.

Passenger space is very respectable for what is essentially a Toyota Corolla size of vehicle. It feels spacious in here, too, which is almost as important. Rear legroom is a particular highlight and thanks to the extended roofline, headroom is also good.

The boot measures in at 363L and if you fold down the rear seats that expands to 1177L. It’s an odd body style, incorporating hatchback characteristics with a conventional tailgate, but with a small lip at the back it also blends in a sedan look.

In terms of the on-board tech, MG is really stepping it up compared with other emerging brands. The main 10.25-inch touch-screen showcases pleasant graphics and menu functionality, with quick jump-to buttons down the side and physical buttons along the bottom.

Some menus are a bit confusing or feel incomplete, such as the audio section. If you hit the music symbol it takes you to Bluetooth audio. But if you want the radio you have to hit the home button, then radio is displayed on a separate widget. These should be presented together in our opinion, like in pretty much every other car.

The other gripe we have is the digital gauge for the driver. It’s very neat and tidy and displays information that’s easy to digest while on the go. In fact, it reminds us of the Polestar 2 system, which we like a lot simply because it doesn’t overwhelm you with facts and figures. However, the screen in the MG4 is too bright at night. There is an option to turn the brightness down but even on its lowest setting, it lights up in your face, which can be distracting.

Navigating through the menu system is mostly straight-forward thanks to the dual four-axis joystick-style buttons on the left and right of the steering wheel. The one on the left controls the MG Pilot adaptive cruise control, and the right one does more with vehicle settings.

Overall, there are a lot of good things to like about the MG4’s packaging, and most systems are user-friendly or hidden away so you don’t have to engage with them unless you want to.

2023 MG MG4 Excite: Powertrain & handling

This is the best-handling modern MG I’ve ever driven. Without question. The ride feels like it has been set up with some tautness but it’s not overly tensioned, so it stays on the comfort side of the fence. It soaks up Aussie back roads really well.

Around corners, the MG4 is eager to turn in with its light but communicative steering. And you can chuck it in harshly without upsetting the chassis. It quite simply hooks in and leads a consistent line, with the rear of the car maintaining composure and balance.

MG does offer a 300kW-ish AWD example overseas, which is on the cards for Australia. But until then, 180kW with a single motor is the only sporty option. Stepping down to this Excite sees outputs drop to 125kW and 250Nm.

It’s an adequate amount of power and torque, offering excellent overtaking performance and initial response. However, I did experience a minor delay when transitioning between corners. It seems like the on-board computers are being overly cautious.

Around town the MG4 is a very pleasant drive. Being silent gives it an extra layer of luxury and sense of refinement, too. Although, it is refined anyway, with no squeaks or rattles to report.

2023 MG MG4 Excite: Key attractions/reasons to buy

Obviously the price. It is the second-cheapest EV currently on sale, starting from just $38,990. That’s pretty awesome considering this is not just some facelift; it’s all new and it sports an electric powertrain (known to be quite experience straight away).

The other main one for me is the driving dynamics and ride quality. It blends sportiness and engagement in equal measure, without being too extreme in either direction. Sure, it’s not the hottest of hatches or staggeringly fast, but I think you’ll be positively surprised by how well it drives in the majority of conditions.

2023 MG MG4 Excite: Key considerations before you buy

The range of 350km is not ideal if you live outside a big city, because you’ll probably face some frustrations due to the lack of Australia’s EV infrastructure.

Some of the touch-screen menus can also be a bit confusing; there are two ‘home’ buttons, for example. And lastly, the instrument cluster, fully digital, is too bright at night. We tried turning the brightness down but it doesn’t go low enough.

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Handling
  • X factor (does it stand out in its class?)

Final word

MG is evolving fast, so we’re keen to see what products follow in the coming years. For now, the MG4 is the best car the company has made so far, in our opinion. And it so happens to be one of the more appealing EVs currently on the market thanks to its low price, interior packaging, and good dynamics and efficiency.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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