Game Changing Electric Car Value

The chip shortage and current economic crises have put a dent in the hopes that EVs will be cheaper than fossil fuel cars by 2023/24. The $25,000 Tesla seems further off than it did, and mineral shortages have delayed the cost reduction to below $100 per kWh in batteries that is considered essential for price parity. But cheaper EVs are arriving, and one company driving prices down is MG. The company has just launched the MG4 EV, and it sets a new benchmark for electric value. I got to drive the MG4 EV extensively at the UK launch event.

What is the MG4 EV?

The MG4 EV is in the compact / subcompact class, so competes with the Volkswagen ID.3, Cupra Born and Chevy Bolt EV. There are several electric cars from the Stellantis group in the same class, too, such as the Vauxhall / Opel Corsa-e, Peugeot e-208 and DS3 E-Tense. Even though SUVs are the biggest sellers in the USA and have taken a dominant position in Europe too, the compact format remains hugely popular and is the best choice as a general-purpose car primarily used in urban environments.

If any vehicle type was going to lead the charge in value it would be a compact, and the MG4 EV ticks a lot of boxes to be a classic of the genre. This is the first MG to be built on a dedicated electric-only architecture. Called the Modular Scalable Platform (MSP), this architecture will underpin new releases from MG going forward. It’s a proper “skateboard” system, with the batteries flat under the floor and a long wheelbase to maximize interior space as well as providing balance and a low center of gravity.

MG4 EV versions, driving experience and range

The MSP architecture also allows for multiple battery and motor configurations. The initial versions of the MG4 EV to arrive include the SE Standard Range, with a 51kWh battery and 125kW (168hp) motor, or there are SE and Trophy Long Range versions with a 64kWh battery and 150kW (201hp) motor. Both are rear-wheel-drive and boast a 50:50 weight distribution, making them great fun to drive. They’re not that fast by EV standards – 7.7 seconds to 62mph for the Standard Range and 7.9 seconds for the Long Range – but handling is great and EV torque means you can perform overtaking maneuvers quite easily.

The two battery sizes offer decent amounts of range. The Standard Range goes up to 218 miles (WLTP rating – EPA not announced yet), while the SE Long Range can manage a very healthy 281 miles. The Trophy version drops this to 270 miles. Interestingly, the Standard Range car uses a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery like the base Tesla Model 3 manufactured in China. This chemistry is more tolerant of being charged to 100%, so you will be able to make better use of its entire battery range. The Long Range uses more mainstream NMC chemistry.

These cars offer healthy DC charging rates, too, further aiding their ability to tackle longer journeys. The Standard Range maxes out at 117kW, taking 39 minutes to charge from 10 to 80%. The Long Range goes up to 135kW, so only requires 35 minutes to go from 10 to 80%, despite the larger capacity. With more rapid chargers arriving offering this level of power, for example new Super Hubs from Osprey in the UK, it’s getting easier to consider an EV for much more than just local journeys and commuting.

Longer range MG4 EV and dual motors coming

MG is also promising two more drivetrain variants in the future. One will have a 77kWh battery offering 329 miles of range, which beats cars from Kia and Hyundai, and will give the ID.3 Tour a run for its money. Most exciting of all will be a dual-motor version with 330kW motors (over 440hp) that MG claims will enable it to hit 60mph in 3.7 seconds. Considering how fun the MG4 EV is already in single-motor form, all-wheel-drive could well make it a pocket performance classic, particularly if MG can pull it off for under £40,000 ($48,000). This car will come with the 64kWh battery and around 250 miles of range.

Previous MG cars were rather old-fashioned in appearance both inside and out. The MG4 EV changes that, with a much more modern external look. It’s bordering on sexy. The front is fierce and the rear sporty and angular, particularly with the extra spoiler of the Trophy version, although that is apparently one of the reasons why it has a bit less range than the SE.

The interior is similarly modernized. Some of the materials used for the inside trim don’t exude premium quality, but the overall look is uncluttered and contemporary. The dials of previous MGs have been replaced by a 7in digital display for instrumentation, and there’s a large 10.25in infotainment screen placed higher up.

Thanks to the longer wheelbase, this car has plenty of room for driver and passengers. Adults can sit comfortably in the back, with enough knee and head room even if you’re six feet tall. The seats are adequately comfortable for longer trips. However, only the driver’s seat is electronically adjustable, and only with the Trophy trim. This also lacks lumbar adjustment.

Cargo space is merely mediocre, although the base amount of room (363 liters or around 13 cubic feet) is more than most subcompacts, but less than the VW ID.3 or Cupra Born. Dropping the rear seats down also provides more than most subcompacts (1,177 liters or around 42 cubic feet) but again less than the Volkswagen Group alternatives. The rear luggage space is flat with the seats down, though, and there is no lip, so it’s very practical.

Better infotainment but still room for improvement

MG has also revamped the infotainment and controls with the MG4 EV, and this is an area where I think the company still needs one more step. For this car, MG has pared things back so there is essentially just a dial for the drive controls, an electronic parking brake, and a few buttons for demisting front and rear windows. There are some controls on the steering wheel as well plus traditional indicator and wiper stalks.

But everything else goes through the 10.25in screen. The menu system has been improved since earlier versions, but there are niggles, such as the fact that the climate control interface doesn’t stay visible for long enough to make extensive adjustments. It would have been good at least to have been able to change fan speed and temperature with discrete buttons, although you can turn on front and rear window demisting, as already noted.

MG has at least further extended the abilities of its iSmart phone app and connected system to include features like remote charge monitoring and turning on air conditioning. It’s also allegedly possible to install over-the-air software updates to the car.

Best value EV ever?

The most important feature of the MG4 EV, however, is the price. I had hoped this car would arrive for £25,000 ($30,000), but MG hasn’t quite managed to hit this level. The SE Standard Range is £25,995 ($31,000), the SE Long Range £28,495 ($34,000) and the SE Trophy £31,495 ($37,500). These prices place it well below virtually all competitors, including the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, all cars from Stellantis (Vauxhall/Opel, Peugeot), and well below Volkswagen Group vehicles. Even Kia and Hyundai’s excellent EVs look expensive in comparison.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Tesla as a direct comparison at any point in this article, nor have I called the MG4 EV a “Tesla killer”. That’s because it isn’t, as there is nothing from Musk’s company in the same class yet. Maybe in the future, but for now I’m sure Elon will be happy to see the affordability of electric cars driven down by the arrival of the MG4 EV. It’s other manufacturers who should be worried. The MG4 EV isn’t perfect, but it is very good. It’s practical, great to drive, and has excellent range. Best of all, it’s excellent value, making EVs just that little bit more affordable for everyone.

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