MG 4 v ZS EV comparison: Budget electric cars, spec to spec

Which attainable Chinese-made electric MG’s fare better? The MG 4 seems like a no-brainer at first glance, but on paper, it’s not too dissimilar from the ZS EV.

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The much-anticipated cut-price MG 4 electric hatch will soon arrive in Australia, but has it overshadowed the current ZS EV small SUV too much on paper?

The Chinese automaker will launch the budget-friendly MG 4 electric small car in August, with a sharp $38,990 price before on-road costs – positioning it as a direct rival to the equally new, value-packed BYD Dolphin.

But, MG has also discontinued the base ZS EV Excite in Australia – previously the most affordable electric SUV – in a move to encourage Australians to opt for the MG 4 instead.

Both electric vehicles are made in China, both appeal to budget-minded buyers, and both can be had with longer range batteries.

At first glance, the MG 4 has the advantage of being built on a dedicated EV platform, a more modern interior and, of course, the cheaper entry cost. Despite receiving a facelift last year, does the older ZS EV SUV still hold up well on paper?

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Discontinued ZS EV Excite pictured


Things we like

  • MG 4: Cheaper entry price, more choices
  • ZS EV: SUV is identically-priced as the 4 like-for-like

Not so much

  • MG 4: 51kWh battery not offered in high-spec Essence
  • ZS EV: No longer available in cheaper Excite variant

The MG 4 hatch is the cheaper option here, with a $9000 lower entry barrier. However, it has fewer features as standard.

Like-for-like Essence and Long Range grades, the MG 4 and ZS EV are identically priced – but the former has a larger battery for more claimed driving range.

All models are eligible for most state EV incentives, including the fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemption for company fleets and novated leases.

51kWh Excite: $38,990
64kWh Excite: $44,990
64kWh Essence: $47,990Essence: $47,990
77kWh Long Range: $55,990Long Range: $55,990

Note: All prices are before on-road costs, options and incentives.

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MG4 v MG ZS EV: Performance

Things we like

  • MG 4: It's RWD with 50:50 weight distribution!
  • ZS EV: Simpler drivetrain offerings

Not so much

  • MG 4: Power bumps are minor
  • ZS EV: AWD option would satisfy some buyers

Both electric MG’s have similar power and torque figures, but the hatchback is slightly faster off the line.

While the base MG 4 variant is less powerful than the base ZS EV, it has a faster claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time. Stepping up the electric hatch’s line-up nets slightly more power as the batteries get larger and heavier.

In contrast, the flagship ZS EV Long Range offers less power than its smaller battery Essence variant.

MG 4’s single electric motor sends power to the rear with a claimed 50:50 weight distribution and one-pedal driving capability, whereas the ZS EV is front-wheel drive only with three weaker regenerative braking modes.

A hyper all-wheel-driven MG 4 X-Power hot electric hatch is under consideration for an Australian launch later this year, too.

Power / Torque51kWh Excite: 125kW / 250Nm
64kWh Excite: 150kW / 250Nm
64kWh Essence: 150kW / 250NmEssence: 130kW / 280Nm
77kWh Long Range: 180kW /350NmLong Range: 115kW / 280Nm
Claimed 0-100km/h time51kWh Excite: 7.7 secs
64kWh Excite: 7.9 secs
64kWh Essence: 7.9 secsEssence: 8.2 secs
77kWh Long Range: 6.5 secsLong Range: 8.5 secs
Drive typeRWDFWD

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MG4 v MG ZS EV: Driving range

Things we like

  • MG 4: More range across the line-up
  • ZS EV: Simpler two-battery offering

Not so much

  • MG 4: Compromised range on Essence
  • ZS EV: Not as energy efficient

The MG 4 electric hatch offers more claimed driving range across the line-up, with slightly larger battery packs and a more aerodynamic body design.

It’s worth noting that only the base MG 4 51kWh Excite and ZS EV Essence use a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery cathode – which is safer, longer-lasting, and less environmentally contentious – compared to other models’s lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) type.

The local division has also opted to name MG 4 variants by the gross (nominal) battery size – except for the base model – which isn’t representative since owner’s can only access the lesser net (usable) battery for health and safety reasons.

Claimed range (WLTP)51kWh Excite: 350km
64kWh Excite: 450km
64kWh Essence: 435kmEssence: 320km
77kWh Long Range: 530kmLong Range: 440km
Claimed efficiency (WLTP)51kWh Excite: 14.5kWh/100km*
64kWh Excite: 13.7kWh/100km*
64kWh Essence: 14.2kWh/100km*Essence: 17.7kWh/100km
77kWh Long Range: 14.0kWh/100km*Long Range: 17.7kWh/100km
Battery size (usable)51kWh Excite: 51kWh
64kWh Excite: 62kWh
64kWh Essence: 62kWhEssence: 49kWh
77kWh Long Range: Unknown**Long Range: 68kWh

Note: Usable battery capacities provided by EV Database [↗].

*MG Motor Australia hasn’t detailed official claimed energy efficiency figures for the MG 4 line-up, so we’ve used our own calculations instead.

**The usable battery size for the MG 4 Long Range hasn’t been disclosed yet, but has a 77kWh gross pack.

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Things we like

  • MG 4: Faster max DC charging speeds
  • ZS EV: Quicker three-phase AC charging standard

Not so much

  • MG 4: Most variants limited to single-phase AC charging
  • ZS EV: Charging port position arguably less accessible

The MG 4 electric hatch has the advantage of faster peak DC fast charging, whereas the ZS EV SUV provides a better AC slow charging rate as standard.

The MG 4 progressively ups its AC and DC charging capabilities with pricier variants, but the ZS EV has the same maximum speeds for both variants.

However, the MG 4 model range is mostly limited to a 6.6kW single-phase onboard AC charger, except for the top Long Range. This means charging off an installed home or public three-phase 11kW and upwards wall box will be speed-limited to a maximum of 6.6kW.

Both electric MG’s have different charging port positions, too.

Max AC / DC charge rate51kWh Excite: 6.6 / 88kW
64kWh Excite: 6.6 / 140kW
64kWh Essence: 6.6 / 140kWEssence: 11 / 80kW
77kWh Long Range: 11 / 140kWLong Range: 11 / 80kW
Charging connectorType 2 / CCS2 – left rear-quarterType 2 / CCS2 – front-right grille
Bidirectional chargingExterior V2L (adapter sold separately)Exterior V2L (adapter sold separately)

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Things we like

  • MG 4: Ground-up EV platform, without the cost
  • ZS EV: Coveted higher-riding SUV body style

Not so much

  • MG 4: Relatively wider body
  • ZS EV: Likely larger turning circle

The MG 4 is shorter in overall length and height than the ZS EV, but has a longer wheelbase thanks to its ground-up Modular Scalable Platform (MSP).

This theoretically means more interior space, with an open flat floor at the front. The 4’s rear-wheel drive powertrain also means it could have a tighter turning circle.

However, while ZS EV is based on the regular ZS’s combustion engine platform that dates back to 2017, it can appeal to buyers with its height, width and, presumably, ground clearance advantage – being an in-demand small SUV. Its rear centre floor hump is quite minimal, too.

Height1504mm (Excite models) / 1516mm (Essence/Long Range)1649mm
Ground ClearanceN/A161mm
Turning circle10.6-metresN/A

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ZS EV boot

Boot space

Things we like

  • MG 4: Decent cargo capacity, no compromise for larger battery
  • ZS EV: Similar boot volume, despite smaller dimensions

Not so much

  • MG 4: Not as roomy for dedicated EV
  • ZS EV: No electric tailgate

Despite the exterior dimension differences, both electric MG’s are closely matched for boot space.

When the rear seats are in place, the MG 4 Excite variants have a touch more boot volume, but pricier Essence models have less (likely due to hardware for the six-speaker sound system).

The ZS EV provides more cargo room when the rear seats are folded down due to its longer length, despite not being as wide nor using a dedicated EV platform as the 4.

Boot capacity (min / max)51kWh Excite: 363 / 1117-litres
64kWh Excite: 363 / 1117-litres
64kWh Essence: 350 / 1165-litresEssence: 359 / 1187-litres
77kWh Long Range: 350 / 1165-litresLong Range: 359 / 1187-litres
Electric tailgateNoNo

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Overseas MG 4 model pictured


Things we like

  • MG 4: More modern interior, tech setup
  • ZS EV: On paper features closely match newer hatch

Not so much

  • MG 4: Some safety tech omitted in base Excite
  • ZS EV: Updated interior still not as fresh

To achieve the sub-$40,000 price tag, the MG 4 Excite misses out on some features, but the pricier Essence is closely matched to the comparable ZS EV.

The MG 4 Excite models notably miss out on features, such as electric folding mirrors, blind-spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera.

Although all MG 4’s have a more modern interior than the ZS EV, they both have a similarly-sized touchscreen (wide versus square display aspect ratios respectively), wired smartphone projection, and LED headlights.

Note: To keep things equal, we’ve used comparable model variants to highlight the similarities and differences. For the full list of features on lower-specced MG 4 models, click here.

2023 MG 4 64kWh Essence2023 MG ZS EV Essence
10.25-inch tablet-style touchscreen10.1-inch integrated touchscreen
Wired Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, built-in mapsWired Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, built-in maps
7.0-inch protruding driver instruments display7.0-inch integrated driver instrument display
MG iSmart connected services with mobile app, built-in voice control, EV trip plannerMG iSmart connected services with mobile app
Synthetic black leather seats with contrasting fabric insertsSynthetic black leather seats with carbon fibre inserts and red contrast stitching
Two-tone black roof paintPanoramic glass roof with sunshade
Rear tinted privacy glassRoof rails
Full LED head- and tail-lightsFull LED headlights with combination-type tail-lights
18-inch alloy wheels17-inch alloy wheels

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Discontinued ZS EV Excite pictured


Both MG electric cars remain unrated by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

MG 4

But, the MG 4 electric hatch did receive the full five-star safety rating by overseas counterpart Euro NCAP under its 2022 testing criteria, with marginal to good results.

It comes with most active safety assistance systems as standard, including; front auto emergency braking (AEB) with car/pedestrian/cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-centring, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and a reversing camera and sensors.

Buyers will need to step up to the Essence grades in order to have; blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera system, and door open alert.

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Meanwhile, the pre-facelifted version of the ZS EV electric SUV did obtain a five-star safety score by ANCAP in 2019 – which bettered the petrol-powered twin’s 2017-tested four-star rating.

While the pre-update ZS EV is structurally similar to the latest model, ANCAP considers the older model’s rating as expired and does not apply to the current ZS EV.

As it now only comes with high-spec Essence and Long Range variants, it includes all available safety assist features as standard, as per the MG 4. On paper, the ZS EV only lacks door open warning compared to the newer 4.

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Warranty and servicing

Both MG EVs are covered by a seven-year/unlimited kilometre vehicle and battery warranty.

For commercial buyers, the warranty is limited to seven-years/160,000km for both the vehicle and battery.

Unlike other brands, such as Tesla and Polestar, it doesn’t cover for abnormal battery degradation.

Other warranties for manufacturing defects include; three months/5000km for lamps and light bulbs, 12 months/unlimited kilometres for the key fob battery, and six months/10,000km for the wheel alignment and balance.

Seven years of roadside assistance is also included, provided owners service it on time at a MG dealer.

While the Chinese carmaker hasn’t detailed servicing costs for the new MG 4 yet, the ZS EV does require logbook maintenance every 24 months/40,000km. For the first five visits, it averages to $616 per service for the small SUV.

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🤔The MG EV dilemma…

The MG 4 is the better choice in almost every criteria on paper, except if the ZS EV’s small SUV body style is a priority for you.

The electric hatch offers a newer platform and design, more driving range and similar boot space – with the critical choice of cheaper variants that allow Australians to switch into a full EV for less than $43,000 drive-away.

However, the MG ZS EV still has the advantage of the popular higher-riding crossover SUV style and a faster AC charging capabilities as standard.

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Of course, we’ll reserve our full judgements until we properly test the forthcoming MG 4 in real life, but it’s stacking up quite well at first glance.

After a decade of electric hatches dominated by the Nissan Leaf, the segment is finally moving. The upcoming BYD Dolphin provides more standard features – albeit with less power and an odd shorter warranty – than the base MG 4, whereas the GWM Ora has quirkier styling and cheaper servicing expenses. The top-selling BYD Atto 3 is also a solid alternative to the ZS EV.

Ahead of the federal government introducing landmark vehicle emissions standards, the choice of attainable electric cars in Australia is finally growing – and all currently coming from China.

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Henry Man


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