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MG4 Long Range Essence 77 2023 review


The new MG4 is making a play for king of the price-busting electrics, but does the appeal tarnish with the priciest flagship Essence 77 version?

Good points

  • Balanced and direct chassis
  • Hot hatch driving characteristics 
  • Quiet and powerful electric motor
  • Up to 530km of range (WLTP)
  • Comfortable on the road
  • Doesn’t feel much heavier than 51

Needs work

  • It’s $17K more expensive than the base
  • Limited rear visibility
  • Basic cabin materials even in Essence
  • Touchscreen remains same as base
  • Average-size boot
  • Some noticeable wind noise

The race for budget EVs is on. BYD will have the Dolphin and the Atto 3, GWM will have the Ora and now MG will have its new MG4 electric hatchback to sit alongside its existing MG ZS EV small SUV.

For a short amount of time, the MG4 was in fact the cheapest electric car priced for Australia, at $38,990 before on-road costs, but this has since been beaten by $100 by the upcoming BYD Dolphin.

2023 MG4 convoy ready for the drive

But while BYD will launch the Dolphin with only two core variants, MG’s new electric MG4 has four, and will soon be five with the eventual launch of the MG4 XPower high-performance variant.

We’ve now driven the entire MG4 range, from the base Excite 51 to the big-battery, high-range Long Range Essence 77.

But I want to see what makes the flagship 77 different from the rest of the pack, and whether it’s worth investing that extra money to take on the big country that is Australia.

MG Australia’s chief executive officer Peter Ciao thinks that the Excite 51 could be the big seller, with a large number of fleet buyers likely to shift towards the 64 and 77 variants.

For reference, the Long Range Essence 77 is priced from $55,990 before on-road costs, making it $8000 more expensive than the 64kWh Essence and $17,000 more expensive than the base Excite 51.

Let’s find out all about the Long Range Essence 77 in this review and whether it’s the pick of the lot.

What are the MG4 Long Range Essence’s features and options for the price?

The MG4 Long Range Essence 77 is the highest-spec MG4 money can currently buy. Specification is almost identical to the 64kWh Essence, bar the changes to powertrain and battery, which we will be touched on later.

Standard features and equipment for the Long Range Essence 77 include:

  • 10.25-inch touchscreen
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity  
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster 
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • iSmart digital app service 
  • Front seat heating 
  • Six-way power adjustable driver’s seat
  • Steering wheel heating 
  • Wireless phone charging 
  • 360-degree camera
  • MG Pilot with 14 safety features 
  • 18-inch alloy wheels with aero covers 
  • Active air grille shutter 
  • LED headlights, tail lights and DRLs
  • V2L charging capability 

How does this all stack up in terms of value?

The Long Range Essence 77 positively builds on the Excite trim grade, with a larger six-speaker sound system, electric seats, greater standard safety features and larger 18.0-inch alloy wheels as standard.

2023 MG4 centre touchscreen with charge screen

However, for the flagship, the Long Range Essence 77 does not differ extensively from the Excite package, despite costing significantly more money.

It’s clear that the much more expensive entry price is largely due to the more powerful 180kW electric motor and larger 77kWh battery pack.

How does the MG4 Long Range Essence drive?

I’ve been fortunate now to drive the entire range of the MG4 and for me, every drive has been a highlight. And I’ll explain why.

Getting behind the wheel of the MG4 for the first time and setting off – you don’t even need to switch it on – the vehicle surrounds itself around you. The low-slung seating and the leather steering wheel with its flat bottom and top hints at some sporting flair, even if this is not the full-blown XPower high-performer.

MG4 2023 Essence 77 front

Driving around town and out onto our drive route at its local launch, the Long Range Essence 77 feels very different to other MGs I’ve experienced in the past. MG says the chassis has been co-developed by Spanish engineering firm Applus IDIADA, a partnership that has also spawned the underpinnings for the upcoming MG4 XPower.

Through the endless Sydney city streets, the MG4 feels very well set up for major city duties – a place where many examples will likely spend much of their time – with a well-damped suspension setup that handles the bumps, lumps and potholes of inner Sydney with ease.

Spending time both as driver and front passenger over a distance of around 250km, the MG4 Long Range Essence 77 is as well tuned on the highway as it is in the city. This version feels planted and secure and honestly feels like a bigger car than what it really is.

MG4 2023 Essence 77 group shot

The electric motor whirs along with almost complete silence, however there is some noticeable wind noise around the A pillar at around 110km/h once you get on the open road..

On MG’s Australian website, the Chinese automaker says that “the MG4 is not just an EV, it’s a sign of the triumphant return of the beloved hot hatch”. And when it comes to dynamic capabilities, for once, I agree with the marketing.

Winding off the highway and into the Royal National Park south of Sydney, I was able to put the MG4 through its paces, and it’s here through the twisties that the MG4 shines bright.

No matter which MG4 you may choose to own, all of them carry the same hot hatch characteristics right through the lineup. Pin-sharp steering, a well-balanced chassis, a strong rear-drive feel and extensive levels of grip make this MG4 an impressive drive.

And it’s not just impressive, but quite a lot of fun, too.

On the rear axle, the MG4 Long Range Essence 77 features a 180kW/350Nm electric motor powered by a 77kWh battery pack. To compare, those performance figures don’t stray too far from those of the current Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Now, let’s quickly talk about weight. The Long Range Essence 77 weighs in at 1748kg (kerb), which is some 93kg more than the base Excite 51. However, interestingly, you can’t really feel the difference as a penalty when driving the two variants back to back.

MG has amazingly masked the feeling of the weight change to ensure that all versions of the lineup drive as close to one another as possible.

It would be wrong to say that electric cars aren’t fun. Not all put a grin on your face, that’s true. But the MG4 is engaging and thought-provoking and is a radically different MG to years gone past.

I’ve rarely wanted to keep driving an EV on and on and on after hours at the wheel, but give me a winding road and an MG4 and you’ll find a very happy man behind that steering wheel.

What is the MG4 Long Range Essence’s interior and tech like?

Inside, the MG4 is most definitely a stripped-back and basic interior, even in high-spec Long Range Essence 77 guise.

Money has clearly been spent on chassis tuning, battery and powertrain, because the Essence setup doesn’t look much different to the base Excite 51.

2023 MG4 interior wide shot (Excite seats)
Pictured is the interior of the 51 Excite, this image will be replaced when the appropriate imagery is sourced

In terms of interior trim fit and finish, there’s a fair chunk of piano black plastics and hard dark plastics around the place, with very few physical buttons.

The polyurethane leather seats are comfortable and surprisingly supportive, and even though they are not particularly well bolstered, they still hold you in during hard cornering. Thanks to the flat floor battery design, there’s plenty of storage space with generous door bins and low-mounted cup holders.

The cantilevered-style drive select platform certainly looks the goods, however by jutting out from the console, your leg and knee rests right next to it, which can get a little uncomfortable over long journeys. Some soft plastic on the side here would make things more comfortable.

2023 MG4 steering wheel and screens

In terms of technologies, the core 10.25-inch touchscreen is a solid unit and uses an intuitive infotainment system that also incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver gains a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, which can be controlled via the steering wheel-mounted buttons. Cruise control, regenerative braking modes and drive modes can all be controlled via the steering wheel.

However, it’s worth noting that there are no volume controls or track selection buttons on the steering wheel, which is a small annoyance – however there are physical volume buttons beneath the centre touchscreen.

I’m not the biggest fan of climate control systems hidden within the touchscreen, and the MG4 is unfortunately no different. But I can live with that, I guess.

2023 MG4 Essence 77 seat detailing

Another minor annoyance is the lack of rear visibility in the MG4. Viewing out the back via the centre rear vision mirror, visibility is restricted somewhat by the small rear window and high headrests.

Moving on to the second row occupant space, much like a hatchback, the MG4’s rear seats are adequate but by no means spacious. These pews would be fine for a couple of hours, but a day-long road trip with adults in the back might not be so good.

At the rear of the MG4, owners will have 363 litres of storage space for the Excite 51 and 64, but only 350 litres of space for the Essence 64 and 77. Even in high-spec Essence grade, the MG4 does not have a power tailgate.

Is the MG4 Long Range Essence a safe car?

The MG4 Long Range Essence 77 is fitted with the following safety features as standard:

  • Dual front, side chest and side head (curtain) airbags 
  • MG Pilot safety suite including:
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Intelligent speed limit assist 
  • Traffic jam assist 
  • Rear cross-traffic alert 
  • Autonomous emergency braking 
  • Lane assist system
  • Door opening warning 
  • Blind spot detection

The new MG4 has been tested by ANCAP and received a five-star safety rating, scoring 83 percent for adult occupant protection, 86 percent for child occupant protection, 75 percent for vulnerable road user protection and 81 percent for safety assist.

How do these features work out on real world roads?

We tested out these features on the road and found the lane keep assist to be particularly well tuned and worked as it should to keep us in the centre of the lane. Adaptive cruise control also works well and distance can be adjusted via the steering wheel controls.

What are the MG4 Long Range Essence’s ownership costs?

In terms of running costs for the MG4, the Chinese automaker says it will cost $1182 over five years to service the MG4.

Service intervals are every two years, or 40,000km, whichever comes first.

MG4 2023 Essence 77 steering wheel

Every MG4 will be covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. A seven-year, unlimited-kilometre battery warranty also applies for the new MG4 electric car.

Driving the MG4 over our test route throughout Sydney, I averaged roughly 18.4kWh/100km on a mix of highway and city driving which is okay but by no means super efficient.

We will do a full Chasing Cars battery range and recharge test on the Long Range Essence 77kWh in the coming weeks.

The honest verdict on the MG4 Long Range Essence

The MG4 electric car is a huge leap forward for the MG Motors brand.

No matter which variant of MG4 you decide to purchase, you will be rewarded time and time again with a fun-to-drive and engaging package.

With a well-tuned chassis with real hot hatch characteristics, great steering and well-tuned dampers, the MG4 is leaps ahead of where the MG brand has come from, and truly harks back to the brand’s sports car roots.

MG4 2023 Essence 77 front 3/4

The Long Range Essence 77 variant adds plenty of electric range and more punch to the equation, but for $8000 premium over the Essence 64 and at $17,000 above the base Excite 51, do you really need the Long Range after all?

The reality is that even in base form, the MG4 is an excellent package and still offers 350km of claimed electric range.

Only those that truly require a range in excess of 500km need look beyond the sweet spot base model.

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