Friends who have ordered the electric MG4 have told me that they didn’t expect to see any deliveries until September, but yesterday morning, Majella alerted me to the fact that one had been delivered and the owner was celebrating on Facebook! The group already has 444 members.
So, despite low expectations, I rang my local MG dealer (Norris Motor Group, Redcliffe) and talked to Blake. He was most helpful and told me, yes, they had a demo vehicle, and yes, I could take it for a test drive.
MG is a very well-known British brand and has an extensive dealer network in Australia. The brand was bought by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and is used for quality cars for sale in this country. Two years ago, they brought out the MG ZS, available as a petrol, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or full battery-electric vehicle — for many months, the MG ZS EV was the third highest selling plug-in EV in Australia. This year, it has had to compete with the BYD Atto 3.
The MG4 first came to my attention on “Fully Charged” 12 months ago, where it was reviewed by Robert Llewellyn. He opens the review by saying “I have waited so long for this!” and describes the MG4 as the bargain of the century. Since then, the car has landed in New Zealand, and as in the UK, there have been rave reviews.
The difference between the MG ZS EV and the MG4 is staggering. While the MG ZS EV (a compact SUV) was a bridge from fossil-fueled travel to electric, the MG4 is not only electric, but electrifying. The MG4 may even affect the sales of the MG ZS EV. Local MG dealers’ experience with the MG ZS EV has helped them to become more aware of consumer interest in EVs.
MG has established itself as a brand that supplies and supports EVs, and its involvement with the MG4 is no exception. As we arrived, a car transporter was unloading more stock, so of course I had to get a photo (above). The salesman told us they had 8. They have all sold. Now they are getting another 8 (they were in the back getting detailed). They have 10–15 customer orders. The dealership has four destination chargers throughout the workshop and on the outside of the building. Customers can be assured that their car will be delivered with a full “tank.”
In Australia, MG has distributed 300 free destination chargers to various tourist hotspots. MG drivers are well taken care of.
As I approached the car, I was impressed by its futuristic sleek black exterior. The front reminded me of the face on Darth Vader’s helmet. Not a car you would want to mess with is the message I got. The details on the side of car and back lights draw your eyes and emphasize the sportiness of this hot hatch. Martin, the sales manager, pointed out the futuristic external gyro air vents that allow the car to create its own slipstream. It looks like a very hot hatch.
Inside the MG4, you find just the right number of buttons and knobs in an easy-to-clean dash. Majella was impressed with the shape of the steering wheel. To one side and behind the wheel are two small screens. On the drive, we found it simple and easy to understand and operate cruise control, and to answer the phone. I felt that the car sat on the road like my Tesla Model 3, and I ended up describing it as “Tesla lite.”
Like the Tardis, the MG4 appears to be larger on the inside than the outside. The spacious boot contains a tyre repair kit. “That’s some boot — you can fit a few bodies in there,” I joked to the sales manager.
We were checking out the base model and missed some of the tech we were used to. But, hey look, at the price! It’s currently selling for around AUD$48,000, and the Queensland government will give you $6000 off, and unlike the GWM ORA salesman we talked to, these guys will help you fill out the forms to get the rebate.
The car that was available for us to drive had a black exterior and interior. Not quite Majella’s taste. But we were assured that there were lots of colours available. We used the FOB to unlock the car, put it in drive, and then take off around the streets of Redcliffe, Blake in the back as we peppered him with questions and gave him gratuitous advice. There is no start or stop button. I gave Blake a bit of a shock when I took off down the road — I don’t think he has pushed the MG4 to its best 0–60 km/h acceleration. It is certainly fast enough to beat a Corolla off the lights.
The MG4 demonstrated a good turning circle in the parking lot. We parked and went over the tech. This model relies on maps from your phone. Majella worked out the radio and I explored options to play my 300 CD music collection that I have on a USB. The car needs to return to the mothership every two years for a safety check and service. Updates can be downloaded and data retrieved at that time.
We shared a lot of information with Blake and his manager to encourage them to be informed of the competition and the speed of uptake of EVs in Australia. I suggested they read CleanTechnica for a lot of this information. Hopefully, the MG4 will feature in the stats when I do the next update.
I’ve talked to my friend in Noosa. He has ordered his from the local dealership, but they don’t have a demo. I’m hoping he can make it down to Redcliffe (about an hour’s drive) and take one for a spin. He commented: “One reason we chose the MG4 is that it’s a hatchback and it has a towing capacity. The problem is that no one (MG Australia or local tow bar providers) have yet made any provision for selling towbars for the MG4 in Australia. We’ve told MG Noosa that we can’t go ahead unless a towbar can be guaranteed. We depend on a towbar to pull our lightweight trailer and e-bikes.
“We chose the MG4 also because of the glowing reports from the UK. We really like the driveability of our VW Polo turbo diesel and hoped for a similarly nimble small EV with the same sense of ‘feel’ on the road. We drove a friend’s BYD Atto 3 but I didn’t like the soft suspension and the lack of any sense of a tight, precise connection to the road through the steering wheel. The one advantage of the BYD over the MG4 is that the Atto can take roof racks but the MG4 can’t.
“We did consider a Tesla Model 3 but thought the boot capacity was too limited for us campers. And we prefer a smaller car than the Tesla. Although, the MG4 will probably surprise us when we finally see one ‘in the flesh’.”
Australians now have more choice when looking for their next vehicle purchase. As I am writing this article, I have just realised: no one tried to talk us out of electric and into a petrol car. Dealers are learning and are already participating in the rEVolution.
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