MG is one of the few successes of the semi-conductor crisis, with its range of affordable and generally available electric and hybrid models appealing to fleet. Now the Chinese-owned British brand is serious with the smart-looking MG4 hatch that it has benchmarked against Volkswagen’s top-selling ID.3.

A year or so ago you might have thought that we were having a laugh, but even before we talk about the way the MG4 drives, its range and ultimately how much it costs, we should start on the way it looks. 

The styling of previous MG models did nothing wrong but looked a bit derivative. The MG4 is different, as it shows the brand’s new family look, and you won’t miss it. Spend more time with the MG4 and you can see influences from other brands and cars. With the sharp, large LED headlights, aggressive front airdam, raised bonnet line and large MG badge. Move to the side, and the lower undercut and disappearing shoulder line stand out – along with the textured plastics. The lights from the rear of this MG, are also spread across the rear of the car. SE models don’t get the distinctive twin aero rear spoiler, leaving the top of the boot looking a bit unfinished. However, you’ll be laughing at the chargers, as that spoiler causes the range to drop from 281 miles, to 270. And the wheels, which are 17in, look a bit lost under the MG4’s arches.

Inside, our SE test car felt quite stark and dark. Highlights of the horizontal dashboard design are the two screens. The top of the dash is made of soft plastic, the rest are textured plastics that look good – but are hard. MG have squeezed a lot of information on to the two screens, but the small font does make reading them at a glance difficult. There are a batch of shortcut buttons below the biggest 10.25in screen, but we wish there were more physical controls. Use Carplay as we did for navigation, and the fact that the driving modes and different regeneration are hidden in there makes it difficult to make changes to the car without losing the nav or your music.

The driver’s seat is plainly trimmed but is supportive and the driving position is comfortable even for the tallest. The unusual quartic multi-function steering wheel has numerous buttons that are poorly labelled. Rear space is tighter, but bootspace at 363 litres is reasonable. Although, we wish rear vision wasn’t so compromised and there’s no rear camera fitted either, which is a shame. 

It is built on a new scalable platform, which will be used on other MGs and the SAIC Group’s own-brand models. Highlights include the slim battery pack, a rear-mounted motor, and 50:50 weight distribution, regardless of the battery size. The MG4 is offered with two sizes, the entry-level one being the 51kWh SE, which is priced at £25,995, and is paired with a 168hp motor, with 0-62mph acceleration in 7.5 seconds and most importantly 218 miles of range. The SE is also available with a 64kWh long-range battery pack,  as fitted to the car we drove, which takes the range up to 281 miles, although acceleration drops slightly to 7.7 seconds – not that you’d notice this slight drop on the move as this MG always feels rapid. Or, there’s the top-spec Trophy, priced at £31,495 and only available with the long-range battery. All are well-equipped and the charging speed are good, with the long-range going from 10-to 80% on 50KW chargers in an hour.

On the road, it’s the torque (249Nm) that impresses first. In fact, sometimes it can be too much – during our wet test drive, this MG’s traction control was working hard to keep us in a straight line. Handling-wise, the MG4 corners well, with minimal body roll and precise steering. It rides well too on the previously mentioned modest rubber. There’s the choice of five driving modes, although selection is made difficult by the unmarked multi-function steering wheel buttons – or via the central touchscreen – both of which are fiddlier than they should be. We tried the ‘Sport’ mode, and the most noticeable change is the responsiveness of the throttle and a touch more freedom from the traction control.  

So, is the MG4 a serious rival to the Volkswagen ID.3? Well, considering they are a similar size, the MG looks incredible value for money next to the ID.3. The MG4 also offers a more engaging drive and they have available stock early on – take a look at the MG4, we think you’ll be surprised.

MG4 SE Long Range 

P11D: £28,440

Residual value: 48.50%

Depreciation: £14,647

Fuel: £3,689

Service, maintenance and repair: £1,489

Cost per mile: 33.04p

Range: 281 miles

CO2 (BIK %): 0g/km (2%)   

BIK 20/40% a month: £9/£18

Luggage capacity: 363 litres

Battery size/power: 64kWh/201hp