The MG4 is the AA DRIVEN Car Guide New Zealand Car of the Year for 2023. In the end it was an easy verdict, because this family hatch ticks all the boxes: it’s a car you can choose with your head or your heart and the argument is equally compelling either way.
If you'd like to watch the Zooming with DRIVEN COTY special, including the MG4 presentation and all the class winners, you can do that here.
The MG brand was already a force to be reckoned with in the EV market, thanks to the ZS EV compact-SUV. That’s still a great proposition and still with us. But the MG4 takes things to the next level: it’s based on bespoke battery electric vehicle (BEV) architecture and future-proofed, with the latest technology. It’s strong and safe.
A combination of great pricing and a broad model range means the MG4 is truly accessible for the mainstream buyer and more to the point, you can choose to pay for what you actually want and need.
The entry Excite model is perfect for those who don’t need the ultimate in range, although it’s still a very respectable 350km. At $46,990 it truly is family-car money, and once you factor in the $7015 Clean Car Discount (get it while you can!) we’re talking about a state-of-the-art EV for less than $40k. That’s remarkable. For a time it was the cheapest brand-new BEV you could buy in NZ; that position was soon ursurped by another vehicle, but no matter, because the MG4 is still the best mainstream BEV you can buy.
In some respects the mid-range Essence looks like the logical overall buy, with extra range and extra features like connected car services, 360-degree camera and extra functionality for the MG Pilot driver-assistance systems. It also gets that distinctive double-bubble rear wing that makes the MG4 stand out so much on the road.
With three battery sizes, three different power outputs and three different specification levels, the rest of the range really does offer something for every family car buyer.
The MG4 looks and feels modern; it’s a desirable machine. Despite its compact exterior dimensions (just 4.3m long) it makes maximum advantage of EV packaging, with a long wheelbase and flat floor that liberates good passenger and bootspace.
So it really is the sensible, value-for-money choice. But it’s also a brilliant car to drive – a family hatch that’ll put a huge smile on the driver’s face.
A strong platform gives the MG4 a solid feel on the road; the rear-drive layout adds some extra spice and improves the handling balance. The end result is a car that talks to the driver, feels very safe on the open road and gives all occupants a more pleasant experience.
It’s not perfect. The large digital displays are impressive but we’d like to see the menus tidied up a bit, and some of the driver-assistance warnings err on the nagging side – but that’s nothing unique in this new age of techy EVs.
As an overall package and model range, it still stands head and shoulders above anything else we’ve driven this year. You might decide you really need one, but chances are you’ll really want one too.
We can’t finish without mentioning the hero XPower model, which offers dual motors and supercar-like 0-100km/h performance: just 3.8sec. It’s had plenty of press, including from us, and it’s certainly an incredible bang-for-your-buck experience.
While the XPower was certainly in the conversation for COTY, we’d only completed a first drive at the time of judging, so it’s important for us to say that the mainstream MG4 won on its own merits and didn’t actually need any help from the wonderhatch. That’s how good it is.
Runners Up: BYD Dolphin, Honda Civic Type R.
BATTERY: 51kWh, 64kWh or 77kWh with single or dual electric motors
POWER: 125kW/250Nm, 150kW/250Nm, 180kW/350Nm or 300kW/600Nm
GEARBOX: Single-speed, FWD or AWD