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MG4 Excite 51 2023 review


New from the ground up on a dedicated electric platform, the MG4 smashes the brand’s late reputation for mediocrity – this is an impressive and affordable EV

Good points

  • Major improvement for MG
  • Pleasant ride quality
  • Well-tuned chassis
  • Comfy cloth seats
  • 357km tested urban range
  • Larger batteries available

Needs work

  • Cheap cabin materials
  • Slow charging speed
  • Phone mirroring needs a cable
  • 298km tested highway range
  • $6K step to 64kWh model

The MG4 Excite 51 is Australia’s second-most affordable EV, pipped only by the narrower, lower-range BYD Dolphin.

The former’s $38,990 ($40,700 driveaway) price is certainly eye-catching, and it’d be easy to write the MG4 off as another cheap but less-than-cheerful Chinese runabout with few virtues beyond value for money.

That characterisation is true of every other car MG sells in Australia at the moment. But it’s not the case for the MG4.

Comprehensive local road testing of the cheapest Excite 51 grade reveals a watershed moment for modern-era MG. Stodgy dynamics and spotty quality have been swept away in favour of driver engagement and a comfy, if honest, cabin.

Compared to the mediocre MG ZS, HS and others, the Germanic-feeling MG4 simply feels like a product signed off by a different company.

That’s no sledge. MG, owned by China’s SAIC group, deserves credit for implicitly acknowledging the inadequacy of its existing vehicles, arresting that trajectory, and releasing the step-change, dedicated-electric MG4.

This is the first of a trio of affordable new Chinese-built EVs to arrive in Australia, with the $38,990 (plus ORC) MG4 leading a charge that will also take in the GWM Ora (from $39,990 plus ORC) and BYD Dolphin (from $38,890 plus ORC).

But it’s starting to become quite obvious that those in this trio are not created equal.

For starters, the MG4’s ground-up EV platform is rear-wheel drive in nature, and where the other two cars feel aimed at a Toyota Yaris level of refinement, the MG4 appears to be targeted at the Cupra Born (from $59,990 plus ORC) and next year’s Volkswagen ID3, which are cut from somewhat superior cloth to the cheapies.

Key perceived quality attributes of the MG4 have come in for improvement, including styling (inside and out), seat comfort, ride quality, handling, stability control tuning, and throttle tuning. Others, like steering and brake feel, could still use some extra polish. The job isn’t finished.

But the MG4 isn’t half bad – far from it. It’s a genuinely good-to-drive and honest affordable car that happens to be fully electric.

The chassis exhibits some real polish, especially in terms of its supple and agreeable ride quality and fun-to-drive handling, which retains a bit of body roll for more natural cornering dynamics than some EVs.

And the base model is all most buyers will need. Shell out an extra $700 for Brixton blue or volcano orange and it doesn’t look low-rent on its 17-inch alloys and grippy but cushioning Continental PremiumContact tyres.

The charcoal interior is dark and conservative, Volkswagen-like even, but while the materials betray the low price it feels well-made.

With the Excite trim grade, available in 50.8kWh-usable and 61.7kWh-usable battery sizes, MG has veered away from a trend in the cheaper part of the Australian car market to use uncomfortable, sweaty vinyl seats.

Instead, you’ll find extremely supportive manual cloth pews here, which are vastly better for our conditions and comfortable for long drives.

The interior tech is a bit generic-looking, with the driver’s display aping Volkswagen’s ID family cluster, but while the touch responsiveness could use work and the requirement of a cable for smartphone mirroring is old-hat, everything works well enough in the cabin.

It is workmanlike but it makes sense – and our tester had no rattles or creaks.

Equipment is sparse on a surface level but we’re glad that MG has invested more in the car’s driving dynamics and EV bona fides than unnecessary interior glitz, which so often feels cheap and nasty at this price anyway. You won’t find nav, power or heated seats at this level but they are available in higher trim grades.

Using a dedicated EV platform has resulted in good rear legroom – common for EVs – but unlike many electrics the back seat base is also supportive and comfortable, while the 363-litre boot capacity behind a manual tailgate will be enough for most owners, some of whom will use this as a second car or runabout.

The ownership proposition, which bundles a seven year vehicle and battery warranty, both with unlimited kilometres, also looks good. Plus, MG requires services only every two years/40,000km for its fully-electric models – a convenience.

Three battery sizes are available: 50.8kWh-usable, 61.7kWh-usable and 77kWh-total (usable size forthcoming), and three trim grades span the MG4 range. The base Excite is what we’ve tested here, but there’s a mid-tier Essence (with 61.7kWh battery only) and a top-tier Long Range, tied to the largest battery.

That trio of batteries promise 350km, 450km and 520km of driving range on the WLTP testing cycle respectively. We performed our Chasing Cars independent range tests on the Excite 51 and returned the following results:


WLTP  Efficiency Range
WLTP claim 14.5kWh/100km 350km
Chasing Cars urban test 14.2kWh/100km 357km
Chasing Cars highway test 17.0kWh/100km 298km


We were impressed to have beaten the WLTP claim at least for urban driving, and 357km is not a bad score in that environment for a light(ish) EV with a small(ish) battery – and we don’t really ping the MG4 Excite 51 for its modest highway range when two larger battery packs exist.

One interesting point to consider is that the Excite 51 model uses a lithium iron phosphate battery pack, which tolerates regular charging to 100 percent without significant degradation, while the larger batteries are lithium-ion – which need most charges to be to just 80 percent outside of irregular road trips.

In real terms, owners will be able to regularly charge the Excite 51 with LFP chemistry to 100 percent of its 350km claimed range – while Excite 64 owners with the lithium-ion battery ought to limit most charging to 80 percent of that car’s 450km claimed range, or 360km.

A demerit of the smallest battery is that its DC charging peak speed is low, at 88kW, as is the capability of its onboard AC charger (6.6kW). Stepping up to the larger batteries unlocks considerably faster charging – but that kind of makes sense given they will be better choices for road-trippers anyway.

Behind the wheel, the Excite 51’s lowest-power configuration is sufficient. A single rear motor provides the single-speed transmission with 125kW and 250Nm.

Good throttle calibration makes the power easy to modulate, and the traction control works subtly. Chasing Cars testing saw the MG4 Excite 51 achieve a 0-100km/h time of 7.08 seconds.

On the move, it’s fun to engage with the MG4’s nicely balanced nature and rear-wheel-drive configuration. The car’s well-judged stability control system allows drivers to feed in throttle on corner exit for some satisfying and subtle yaw moments, and it is a surprisingly pacey and fun car to drive on a curving road.

The ride (and sensible tyre profile choice) strikes a good balance between compliance and control, erring on the side of comfort. Combine the pleasant ride with the feelsome, puntable chassis, and the MG4 is a car that has you seeking errands to run. We were really surprised – in a good way. It’s also a quiet and refined car, including on the highway.

With this smallest of batteries, the MG4 is light for an EV at 1710kg – the absence of obesity is one of the reasons it feels so agreeable, especially because unsprung mass is kept in check too. We are yet to test an MG4 with a bigger pack.

Curiously, the claimed weight of the 61.7kWh model is just 16kg heavier than an MG4 equipped with the 50.8kWh battery.

Both of the longer-range versions of the MG4 are high on our list to independently evaluate. But our first week with this new vehicle has revealed that base may well be best. If an electric runabout is on your wishlist, the MG4 Excite 51 deserves very close consideration.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Overall rating
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

125kW at 0rpm
250Nm at 0rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
0 litres
Rear Wheel Drive
Single gear
4287 mm
1836 mm
1504 mm
Unoccupied weight
1655 kg

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