Less than a year after the entry of the MG brand into the Czech market, this once British car manufacturer, now owned by the Chinese concern SAIC, comes with the first purely electric car in the country – the MG 4. And it does not come quietly, at least within Europe – it has already won the title of Car of the Year 2023 in Great Britain and a few other, similar awards.
The interior emphasizes smooth and straight lines and the resulting minimalist design. Both displays, both the instrument panel and the central infotainment display, appear to be free-standing, which gives the interior an impression of airiness. From the photos, we can see that the infotainment system is different from the one that is the Achilles heel of the ZS and EHS models, and according to the automaker, it should work faster.
In addition to six airbags, the basic equipment of the MG 4 will include adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assistant and active lane guidance for level 2 autonomous driving. The car also has autonomous emergency braking with detection of unruly pedestrians and cyclists, even when reversing, also monitoring the traffic behind the car or checking whether it is possible to open the door safely due to surrounding traffic.
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A useful element can be the adjustable buttons on the steering wheel, which can be used to control, for example, the air conditioning. On the other hand, you would look for the start button in vain – the car “starts” automatically by pressing the brake while the driver’s seat is occupied/the seat belt is on. Also missing is the button for Auto Hold mode, where the car continues to hold the brakes after you release the brake pedal until you step on the gas. It is activated by pressing the brake hard.
The car stands on a purely electric platform called MSP with a battery in the floor, which has a capacity of 51 kWh in the basic Emotion version, and 64 kWh in the higher Elegance and Luxury trims. The smaller one is connected to an electric motor with 170 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque.
The car can travel up to 350 km on a single charge, and the highest version will also offer an adapter for powering electrical appliances from the vehicle’s battery.
The larger battery is connected to an electric motor with 204 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. The car can travel up to 450 km with it on a single charge in the Elegance version, or up to 435 km per charge in the Luxury version. All versions will offer a top speed of 160 km/h and a basic luggage volume of 363 liters.
The batteries can be repaired, similar to the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. For example, the contactors – allegedly a relatively frequently repaired item – were placed by the manufacturer in such a way that they could be accessed without the need to disassemble the battery.
It should be interesting that each of the batteries has a different chemical composition and other technical parameters. The smaller is lithium-iron-phosphate (a li-ion battery with this chemical composition has the best lifespan in terms of the number of charging cycles and is the most stable and safest according to the car manufacturer) and its voltage is 327 V, the larger is nickel-cobalt-manganese (the excels in energy density) and works with a voltage of 380 V.
Batteries have protection against thermal runaway. In the event of cell failure and a chemical reaction leading to its overheating, according to the automaker, the problem will concern only one cell, the surrounding area will not be “infected” by it, we learn during the presentation.
The battery also has a pressure relief valve, which releases excess gas pressure from the battery, resulting from physical damage, such as puncture of one of the cells. Both types have been subjected to demanding tests in terms of fire and physical damage, and according to the car manufacturer, they do not burn.
Despite the significantly larger capacity, the larger battery, weighing 409 kg, is only ten kilos heavier than the smaller battery. And the car with it manages to accelerate to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds slower than the version with a smaller battery. The car’s battery is supplied by CATL, and the automaker says that, with a height of only 110 mm, it is the lowest battery on the market.
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The version with a smaller battery is less powerful due to the lower battery voltage, although the electric motor is otherwise physically the same. It has welded copper clips on the stator, which is a rare manufacturing method in electric car motors. The goal is the best possible response to the driver’s commands and low energy consumption.
The differences between the batteries are also in charging. The smaller battery supports charging with a power of up to 117 kW, which in ideal conditions means charging from 10 to 80% in 37 minutes.
The larger battery manages a charging power of 135 kW, and charging at the same percentages ideally takes 35 minutes. AC charging for the smaller battery has a maximum output of 6.6 kW, for the larger one the maximum is 11 kW.
Energy consumption should be only 160 Wh/km, i.e. 16 kWh/100 km. The car owes this mainly to good aerodynamics and relatively low weight – depending on the version, up to 1.7 tons.
Aerodynamics is helped by active flaps in the front of the car, which close off air access to the radiator when cooling is not needed, and the coefficient of air resistance is thus at a relatively low value of 0.279. Low consumption is also helped by return springs in the brake calipers, specially developed wheel bearings for the lowest possible friction and aerodynamic wheel covers.
The power steering, which is of course electric, does not have an electric motor on the steering rod, but on a separate pinion on the steering rack. This is so that it can have an ideal gear ratio for each pinion. The steering itself has a relatively steep 14.8:1 ratio.
The car is also ready for all-wheel drive; such a model is planned, but no further information is available about it yet.
The car also does not have a classic vacuum brake booster, but a brake-by-wire system with the designation IBS, developed by Continental. The hydraulic fluid pump is integrated with the brake master cylinder and ABS unit. The advantage should be a much faster onset of the maximum braking effect than usual – 150 milliseconds.
The automaker mainly promises agility and good driving characteristics with the MG 4 thanks to the rear-wheel drive, which has a five-link suspension designed so that the rear does not dive during acceleration. There is also a millimeter wider rear wheel track compared to the front (1551 mm versus 1550 mm), an ideal weight distribution of 50:50 and a center of gravity of 492 mm above the ground.
Even distribution of weight and distribution of steering concerns to the front and drive concerns to the rear wheels, according to the automaker, also means even tire wear.
The novelty already has Czech prices and sales will begin in the coming weeks. With a standard warranty of 7 years or 150 thousand km, it costs 779,960 crowns for the Emotion version, the middle Elegance costs 884,960 crowns.
The top Luxury version does not yet have its price. Metallic paint is available at no extra cost; in general, no extras are available for production beyond the equipment of individual levels.
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