MG 4 wins Best Electric Vehicle under $50K

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Car Of The Year

Affordable electric cars are a reality! Congratulations to the 2024 Drive Car of the Year Best Electric Car under $50K, the MG4


The last 12 months have seen electric cars in Australia enter a new paradigm. No longer the playthings of the rich, EVs have entered the mainstream, with a number of models available under $50,000 and some even sneaking in under the $40,000 threshold.

And they’re all from Chinese manufacturers. Say what you like about Chinese-built cars, but the fact remains that without the likes of MG Motor, BYD and GWM, fewer Australians would have access to electric cars.

Whether the onslaught of relatively affordable EVs entering Aussie showrooms in the last 12 months continues unabated, and whether the rest of the automotive manufacturing world takes notice and starts offering ‘EVs for the masses’ in their respective line-ups, remains to be seen.

But it will be hard to ignore buyers’ appetites in this growing segment. Last year, around 16,000 EVs priced under our $50,000 cut-off for this Drive Car of the Year category found new homes in Australia.

It’s a testament to not only buyers’ thirst for zero-emissions motoring but also to those manufacturers who have recognised that thirst and catered accordingly.

But, it’s not just a matter of banging a battery under the floor, fitting an electric motor or two, and saying ‘have at it’. To be considered a contender in this segment and to ultimately take out top honours, a sub-$50k EV needs to stand on its own merits, not just as an electric car, but as a car. Period. All four of our finalists filled the brief with compelling offerings that redefined the segment.

But there can only be one winner. And in 2024, the Drive Car of the Year Best Electric Vehicle Under $50,000 is the MG 4.

Winner: MG 4

Drive’s pick: MG 4 Essence 64 from $47,990 MSRP

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MG 4 key facts:

  • Priced from $39,990 to $47,990 (range)
  • 7-year warranty
  • Driving range: 350km to 530km

Why the MG 4 won:

  • Affordable electric vehicle for the masses
  • Well-equipped for the money
  • Good driving range

MG joined the battle of ‘Australia’s most affordable electric car’ when it released the MG 4 late last year. One of the first EVs under the psychological $40,000 barrier, the MG 4 has gone on to be a success for the Chinese brand, racking up 3134 sales to the end of 2023 since hitting local dealerships last August.

And it’s easy to see why; the MG 4 is a capable, comfortable and compelling electric car that, when it went on sale initially, was priced at $38,990 before on-road costs. That’s for the entry-level Excite 51 model.

Prices have crept up since then, with MG confirming that the base Excite 51 model now costs $39,990 plus on-road costs, a $1000 increase but still well under our $50,000 threshold for this category. Pricing for the rest of the MG 4 range remains unchanged.

Where the MG 4 makes its case is in its simplicity. It is, first and foremost, a humble hatchback. There’s no bamboozling EV bling. Instead, the MG 4 is a hatchback first, and an electric car second.

At its most basic level, the MG 4 Excite 51 (and, for that matter, the Excite 64) is still nicely equipped. The standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four speakers, a reversing camera, fabric seat upholstery, and safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.

But, Excite models miss out on additional safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert which are only available in the more expensive Essence models.

And it’s for this reason our pick of the range is the MG 4 Essence 64. It’s priced at $47,990 before on-road costs which is nudging the upper ceiling of this DCOTY category.

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It’s well-equipped for the money, however. As well as a bigger battery (64kWh, hence the name) and greater driving range (435km against the Excite 51’s 350km) and a more powerful electric motor (150kW against the Excite 51’s 125kW), the Essence trim also brings some nice appointments inside and out.

Standard are 18-inch alloy wheels, a black roof, leather-look seat trim, native satellite navigation, a 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging, and a six-speaker stereo.

Its performance is zippy without being outrageous (0-100km/h in a claimed 7.2s), while comfort, for the most part, is acceptable, if a little fussy over rougher surfaces.

It’s not perfect by any stretch. Quibbles run to an over-reliance on the infotainment touchscreen for basic car functions, a touchscreen that can also prove temperamental at times. And some of the MG 4’s advanced driver systems could use a little fine-tuning. But these are relatively minor blots on an otherwise compelling package.

In a market where buyers have been waiting for affordable electric cars, MG has delivered. Yes, it faces a slew of competition, but the MG 4 stands taller than its rivals… for now. And that’s why it’s our Drive Car of the Year Best Electric Vehicle Under $50,000.

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Drive Car of the Year – Every category, every winner

Find out everything you need to know about all the Drive Car of the Year 2024 category winners at our DCOTY content hub.

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Drive Car of the Year 2024

All the categories, all the winners – Drive Car of the Year 2024

Rob Margeit is an award-winning Australian motoring journalist and editor who has been writing about cars and motorsport for over 25 years. A former editor of Australian Auto Action, Rob’s work has also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Wheels, Motor Magazine, Street Machine and Top Gear Australia. Rob’s current rides include a 1996 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and a 2000 Honda HR-V Sport.

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