2023 MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 review

two MG4 cars

Bruce Newton

Posted October 04, 2023

We put the MG4 Essence 64 and flagship MG4 Essence 77 Long Range to the test to see if they are worthy of their higher prices.

There was plenty of excitement when the MG4 compact hatchback launched in Australia as the first battery electric vehicle priced under the $40,000.

That was the MG4 Excite 51. But there are actually three more models in the range, all of them more expensive and offering more range and more performance than the 51.

This time we’re assessing the MG4 Essence 64 and flagship MG4 Essence 77 Long Range to see if they are worth the extra cash.

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The MG4 cuts a striking figure. Image: Supplied.
There are four models in the MG4 range. Image: Supplied.
The MG4's pricing lines up against everything from a GWM Ora to a Tesla Model 3. Image: Supplied
The MG4 is sure to be a popular EV in Australia. Image: Supplied.

MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 pricing and models

The MG4 line-up comprises the $38,990 Excite 51, the $44,990 Excite 64, the $47,990 Essence 64 and the $55,990 Essence 77 Long Range (national RRP plus on-road costs).

That pricing range means the MG4 lines up against everything from a GWM Ora to a Tesla Model 3.

All MG4 prices are plus on-road costs, but don’t take into account subsidies and rebates available to EVs. Excite and Essence are trim levels and the numbers are references to battery size measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).

Features Essence shares with Excite include a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster that sits behind the steering wheel, cabled Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connection, DAB and FM radio bands, single zone climate control, keyless entry and start/stop, and a 60/40 split-fold rear seat.

Essence exclusives include 18-inch alloys (17-inch alloys for Excite) and some body kit styling including a two-piece rear wing, satellite-navigation, a wireless charging pad (from which the phone can exit when accelerating), web-based services such as weather forecasting, front seat and steering wheel heating, driver’s seat power adjust and faux leather (rather than fabric) seat trim.

The Essence gets a six speaker audio, which is hardly generous. But that’s better than the four speakers the Excite makes do with. In all MG4s there are USB-A and a USB-C points up-front and a solitary USB-C in the rear.

The MG4 and its battery pack come with a seven year/unlimited km warranty. Service intervals are a lengthy 40,000km/24 months and are currently capped at $2702 over 200,000km and 10 years.


closeup of MG4 headligths

The MG4 features LED headlights with intelligent high beam control. Image: Supplied


MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 safety equipment

The entire MG4 range comes with a five star ANCAP rating based on 2022 protocols, as well as six airbags autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow function, driver attention monitoring and LED headlights with intelligent high beam control. Surprisingly, only rear parking sensors are fitted.

There is a distinct step up in equipment choice if you opt for the Essence. It adds blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, emergency lane keep assist, lane change assist and a door opening warning. It also upgrades from a reversing camera to a 360 degree camera.

As is common with Chinese cars, the tune of this comprehensive package of active driver aids leaves plenty to be desired. Lane assist is the most annoyingly intrusive and just as annoying is having to turn it off each time you turn the car on if you can’t cope with it.

The adaptive cruise control also has a cornering function that is ridiculously intrusive. It slows the car so much the driver often has to hit the throttle to speed up. Or switch it off.


The interior of the MG4 is modern and minimalist. Image: Supplied
The MG4's instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen are simple and navigable. Image: Supplied
The MG4's front seats are quite generous and offer plump padding. Image: Supplied

MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 interiors and design

The interior of the MG4 in Essence specification presents as modern and minimalist. That’s both a compliment to Chinese design and recognition that some cost cutting has gone on here. There are hard plastics interspersed with the softer stuff and default piano black. A plinth projecting out from the dash is something of a styling statement.

The instrument cluster is simple and legible. It is far easier to read than the BYD Atto 3, which has a similar set-up. 

The infotainment touchscreen is also relatively simple and navigable but prone to some slow responses. Without proper buttons, the air-con controls are frustratingly inaccessible on the touchscreen.

The front seats are quite generous and offer plump padding. The two-spoke steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. Storage is generous up-front and includes a sizable glovebox, a centre lidded bin, dual cupholders and large door bins.

The passenger-side footwell is quite lumpy so it’s hard to find a flat position for your left foot. Vision out the rear window is limited. Side vision is quite good because the seating position is raised and windows large.

One 180cm adult sitting behind another is tight for kneeroom in the rear. There are no rear air-con vents or a fold-down armrest. There is plenty of storage with three pockets on each seat.

The boot, accessed by a manual tailgate, is not that generous at 350 litres for Essence. It does expand to 1165 litres with the rear seats 60:40 folded. There’s no spare tyre under the boot floor, just an inflator kit. Nor is there a front trunk or frunk for additional storage.


The MG4 uses a Type 2 charging plug for AC charging and a CCS2 plug for DC fast charging. Image: Supplied
You can see the MG4's charge status on its interior screens. Image: Supplied

MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 battery power, charging and efficiency

As already explained the battery capacity of the various MG4 models is referenced within their names. As battery capacity relates directly to range, no surprise the MG4 Essence 77 claims 530km while the Essence 64 dips to 435km. Remember, these are claims only, they will usually be unable to travel as far between recharges in the real world.

The official energy consumption rates are 13.8kWh/100km for the Essence 64 and 14kWh/100km for the Essence 77. We were seeing 17-19kWh/100km during our drive.

Based on its maximum 140kW DC fast charge rate the 64kWh battery can recharge from 10-80 per cent in 26 minutes. That shades the larger 77kWh’s 38 minute time.

With a 6.6kW AC onboard charger the 64kWh recharges from 0-100 per cent in nine hours, while the 77kWh can do it much faster in seven hours with its 11kW onboard AC charger (as long as you have three phase power).

Trickle charging in these two on a standard household 10 amp plug from empty to full is a 30 hour-plus proposition.

Based on an all-new platform, all MG4s have a single electric motor powering the rear wheels via a single speed reduction gear. The Essence 64 powertrain produces 150kW/250Nm and accelerates from 0-100kmh in a claimed 7.9 seconds. The MG4 Essence 77 makes 180kW/350Nm and does the 0-100km/h dash in 6.5 seconds.

All MG4s come with adjustable regenerative braking, although changes are made through the touchscreen rather than by far more sensible flappy paddles on the steering wheel. The effect itself can be toned right down or wound up to be truly one pedal.

Standard fit is a 3.3kW Vehicle to Load (V2L) function that can charge electronics such as laptops on the go.


MG4 driving

Not much separates the Essence 64 and 77 driving experience. Image: Supplied


MG4 Essence 64 and Long Range 77 performance and handling

First thing to know is you don’t press a button or turn a key to make the MG4 start. It fires up when you sit in it and press the brake pedal - as long as you have the smart key with you.

Once on the go there is not that much to separate the Essence 64 and Essence 77 driving experience. The latter feels to have an acceleration edge because of its extra power and torque, but the former is not going to leave you swamped at the green lights. It’s got plenty of get up and go too.

Both cars feel connected and genuinely enjoyable in their handling. Cornering balance is good, thanks to the low-set battery pack and rear-wheel drive.

Both transmit road imperfections, a reflection of suspension tunes that are a bit firmer to cope with kerb weights getting up toward 1700kg and beyond.

That’s a lot for a small hatch. In petrol engine form they are about 300kg lighter. Those high voltage batteries aren’t only expensive they are heavy!

You can dial the MG4’s powertrain and steering performance up and down through a family of grades that can make it more focussed on sport or power conservation. You can even mix and match to come up with a personally preferred combination.

These modes have more of an impact on the response of the powertrain, which is a bit doughy in eco and pretty zippy in sport. The steering varies in weight but is always responsive. It lacks true feel, but that’s not unusual for an electric assist system. Brake pedal feel is noticeably wooden.

The MG4 has that lovely quiet-running ability all EVs possess. It does mean you’ll hear more wind and tyre noise, but it’s still hushed in the cabin.

All up, it’s clear the MG4 is a worthy and impressive addition to local EV offerings. But which Essence to choose? 
The Essence 77 is a cool little car but it’s getting expensive for a small hatchback, so it’s the Essence 64 that appeals more. It’s performance level is slightly reduced, but the equipment level is the same and the overall driving behaviour remains impressive.


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.