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Thu, 30 Nov 2023 06:03:00 +0000

2024 Volkswagen ID.4, ID.5 prices, first pre-orders due next year
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : Alex Misoyannis

The first electric vehicles from Volkswagen Australia are due to be priced early next year,...

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The first electric vehicles from Volkswagen Australia are due to be priced early next year, however they may be more expensive than first hinted due to a series of model upgrades prior to launch.

Prices for the 2024 Volkswagen ID.4 and ID.5 electric SUVs are due to be announced early next year when pre-orders open.

However they may not be as affordable as initially anticipated, and could cost close to or in excess of $80,000 before on-road costs.

As previously reported, the ID.4 and ID.5 SUVs will be the first Volkswagen electric vehicles sold in Australia, and will be available in a choice of rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive model grades.

The first showroom arrivals are due in July 2024, pending any delays, and the company confirmed in a media conference this week that pre-orders are scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year (January to March).

Buyers will be able to order the vehicles online through a new portal on the Volkswagen website, which is linked to a new, more accurate tracking service planned to allow buyers to monitor the location of the ship carrying their vehicle in real time.

It will also be connected to an augmented-reality iPhone and Android web app that will allow buyers to check and visualise the placement of a home wallbox charger in their garage.

When two ID.4 evaluation vehicles arrived in Australia a year ago, it was suggested they could be priced close to a Tiguan R, at about $70,000 before on-road costs.

However the company has now indicated they may not be that affordable, due in part to a series of updates announced for Europe which Australian models will offer from the start.

The changes include more powerful electric motors – including a 210kW motor in the Australia-bound entry model, up from 150kW previously – plus a longer driving range, faster charging and an improved interior.

“What [we were] referencing at that time was the 150kW [version prior to the updates],” Volkswagen Australia spokesman Daniel DeGasperi told Drive.

“But we made the decision to take the [higher-output] 210kW [motor] and wait for that, as well as the interior upgrades and so on. So that won’t be Tiguan R pricing as we indicated.

“As I mentioned to the media in Munich, if you look at a Tesla Model Y Long Range and then you look at the spec that we have, you could make some educated guesses as to how competitive that car will be.”

The Tesla Model Y Long Range is priced from $78,400 before on-road costs and order/delivery fees.

Standard equipment on the entry-level ID.4 and ID.5 Pro in Australia will include 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, a 360-degree camera, power-adjustable front seats, matrix LED headlights, and Mode 2 and Mode 3 charging cables.

“These things will be standard on our car because that’s what customers expect,” said the VW Australia executive.

“And the reason we can’t talk about [exact] pricing today is because … we will ensure that the pricing is right before we announce the price, and we’re confident with it.”

The ID.4 Pro and ID.5 Pro are powered by a 210kW electric motor on the rear axle, good for a 6.7-second 0-100km/h sprint and – based on European figures – up to 550km of claimed driving range in the ID.4, or up to 556km in the ID.5.

The GTX versions upgrade to dual electric motors developing 250kW, dropping the 0-100km/h time to 5.4 seconds.

The post 2024 Volkswagen ID.4, ID.5 prices, first pre-orders due next year appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 06:02:00 +0000

Chinese-made Volkswagens poised for Australia
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : Alex Misoyannis

Future Volkswagen hatchbacks or SUVs sold in Australia could be built less than an hour...

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Future Volkswagen hatchbacks or SUVs sold in Australia could be built less than an hour away from MGs, Teslas and BYDs in China.

German car maker Volkswagen is considering plans to bring cars manufactured in China to Australian showrooms in the coming years.

Volkswagen is the second-best selling car brand in China, and the Volkswagen Group – which also includes Skoda, Cupra and Audi – operate no fewer than 10 factories in what is the world’s largest car market.

It recently announced plans to develop a range of budget-priced electric cars in China, specifically for that market – and has signed a deal with Chinese electric-car start-up Xpeng to jointly create two new electric VW models.

Now it appears Volkswagen is preparing to lean on its presence in China to sell Chinese-built cars in Australia, at a lower price than it can make them in Europe.

“Yes,” Volkswagen Australia passenger vehicles director Michal Szaniecki told Drive when asked if he could foresee a Chinese-built VW being sold in Australia in the next five years.

When asked if he is thinking of a particular model – but which is yet to be announced and so could not be named – the executive said:

“Plenty. What we hear is now very publicly discussed, that we are looking for the most cost-efficient ways of doing business.

“This is one of the scenarios that we are obviously pursuing as a Group, and as a brand.”

It remains to be seen which models from China are sold in Australia, when they are due, and how much cheaper than comparable European-produced versions they are to manufacture.

Volkswagen has built a car in China for Australia before, the Polo Classic – a four-door sedan version of the city car, introduced in 2004 but sold for less than two years before it was dropped.

The Polo Classic was the first Chinese-built passenger car ever sold in Australia, half a decade before vehicles from domestic car brands such as Great Wall Motors (GWM) and Chery.

Outside of the Volkswagen brand, it has been confirmed the Cupra Tavascan electric SUV – from VW’s sporty Spanish subsidiary – will be sourced from China when it comes here in 2025.

Only three models in the current Volkswagen range are not produced on the European continent, the Tiguan Allspace seven-seat SUV from Mexico, Polo city hatch from a VW factory in South Africa, and the Amarok ute from a Ford plant in South Africa.

Among VW’s factories in China, one is 100km from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai, while another in the city of Nanjing is close to a plant owned by MG and LDV parent company SAIC.

Volkswagen will not be the only European car brand using factories in China to lower production costs and reduce shipping times.

Volvo has progressively switched production of Australia-bound vehicles to China in recent years, while BMW (iX3) and Citroen (C5 X) also produce cars there for local showrooms.

The post Chinese-made Volkswagens poised for Australia appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 06:01:00 +0000

Volkswagen Tiguan R to reach end of the road – for now
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : Alex Misoyannis

The top-selling Volkswagen R model in Australia is about to be axed in its current...

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The top-selling Volkswagen R model in Australia is about to be axed in its current form. But a successor may be on the horizon.

The final example of the current-generation Volkswagen Tiguan R performance SUV is due to roll off the production line imminently after a run of just 18 months in Australia.

Plans for a new-generation model are yet to be locked in, however Volkswagen insiders have told Drive’s European Correspondent Greg Kable in recent weeks a second generation with familiar mechanicals is planned.

The Tiguan R is the company’s top-selling R performance model so far this year, with more than 2500 examples sold since it arrived in local showrooms in the first half of last year.

In the switch to the next-generation Tiguan – which goes on sale in Europe in the coming months, but does not reach Australia until early 2025 – production of the R is due to end imminently, VW executives told Drive.

Volkswagen Australia is stockpiling vehicles from the final batch of production, and estimates to have stock in showrooms until June next year.

“We do need to say farewell to Tiguan R as we transition into Tiguan (generation) 3, but the good news we will still be on sale until June next year,” Michelle Rowney, head of product for Volkswagen passenger vehicles in Australia, told a media conference this week.

If there is a new Volkswagen Tiguan R, it may become the last new petrol-powered VW R model, as the performance division is due to go electric-only by the end of this decade.

The next Golf – and therefore the Golf R – will be electric, and there will not be another Arteon (or Arteon R).

While there will be another petrol-powered T-Roc – due in 2026 – it is remains to be seen if it will offer an R version given it would have just four years on sale.

In the meantime the new-generation Tiguan will be available with a 195kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine in R-Line form – splitting the difference between the current Tiguan 162TSI, and the 235kW R.

The post Volkswagen Tiguan R to reach end of the road – for now appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 06:00:00 +0000

2024 Volkswagen Touareg R price and specs
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : Alex Misoyannis

The first plug-in hybrid Volkswagen in Australia is a 340kW turbo-petrol V6 performance model cheaper...

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The first plug-in hybrid Volkswagen in Australia is a 340kW turbo-petrol V6 performance model cheaper – and more powerful – than the V8 diesel it replaces.

  • 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R pricing and specifications
  • First plug-in hybrid VW for Australia
  • 340kW/700Nm from turbo V6 and electric motor
  • Priced from $129,990 plus on-road costs

The 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R performance SUV will be priced from $129,990 plus on-road costs when it arrives in Australian showrooms in March next year, pending any delays.

The Touareg R is the first plug-in hybrid Volkswagen sold in Australia, as well as the company’s most powerful production model, and the fifth R high-performance model in its current showroom line-up.

It was originally due in showrooms in late 2022, before it was delayed to mid-2023 – and then pushed back again to next year to coincide with the regular Touareg’s mid-life facelift, now on track for March or April deliveries.

Prices and Australian details for the rest of the updated Touareg range will be announced closer to launch, however Volkswagen promises “more features [and] more value”.

While it is the first plug-in hybrid for the company in Australia, VW does not plan to follow the Touareg R up with Golf or Tiguan plug-in hybrids, as it will focus on solely-electric cars in these market segments, where long-distance driving abilities and towing are not as important, the company says.

Plug-in hybrids account for less than 1 per cent of new-car sales in Australia, compared to 7 per cent for electric vehicles.

The Touareg R is offered in a single, fully-equipped specification with no optional extras other than premium paint.

Its price is a match for the V10 twin-turbo diesel-powered 258kW/850Nm Touareg R50 – the original high-performance Touareg – in 2008, and $6500 cheaper than the 310kW/900Nm Touareg V8 TDI diesel sold in 2020.

Powering the Touareg R is a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 matched with a 100kW/400Nm electric motor, 14.1kWh battery, eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

These combine for outputs of 340kW and 700Nm, good for a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.1 seconds in hybrid mode, 51km of claimed electric-only driving range, and claimed fuel use of 3.3 litres per 100 kilometres in lab testing.

It is the first Volkswagen Touareg fuelled by petrol to be sold in Australia since 2012.

Standard features include 22-inch alloy wheels, performance brakes, air suspension, matrix LED headlights, heated leather seats, a 15-inch touchscreen, 12-inch digital instrument display, Dynaudio premium stereo, four-zone climate control, and a suite of advanced safety technology.

Exclusive to the Touareg R in VW Australia showrooms is night vision technology, which uses a thermal imaging camera to “more visibly detect humans and wildlife”.

For more details on the regular, updated Touareg range – and what is new for the facelift – click here to read our story on the vehicle’s unveiling in Europe earlier this year.

Australian-market examples of the 2024 Volkswagen Touareg – including the R – are now on boats en route to local showrooms, ahead of first deliveries due in March.

2024 Volkswagen Touareg Australian pricing

  • Touareg diesel, facelifted variants – range and prices TBC
  • Touareg R – $129,990

Note: All prices above exclude on-road costs.

2024 Volkswagen Touareg R standard features:

  • 340kW/700Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 and electric motor
  • Mode 2 and Mode 3 charging cables
  • 22-inch Estoril alloy wheels in gloss black
  • Air suspension
  • R performance brakes with blue calipers, R logos
  • Black mirror caps, front grille, bumper inserts, window surrounds, roof rails, sports exhaust tips
  • Matrix LED headlights with adaptive high beam
  • 15-inch infotainment touchscreen and 12-inch digital instrument display (Innovision Cockpit)
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Dynaudio premium sound system
  • ‘Puglia’ leather seat upholstery in black
  • Power-adjustable heated front seats with memory
  • Heated outboard rear seats
  • R sports steering wheel
  • Power-adjustable steering column with memory
  • Quad-zone climate control
  • Head-up display (windscreen projection)
  • Hands-free power tailgate
  • Panoramic sunroof with electric blind
  • Night vision (exclusive to Touareg R)
  • R logo puddle light projection
  • Five USB-C ports
  • Illuminated sill plates with R logo
  • Brushed aluminium interior inserts
  • Power-latching doors
  • 360-degree camera (to be standard on all 2024 Touaregs)
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane centring assist (Travel Assist)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Front cross-traffic alert
  • Dynamic Road Sign Display
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Emergency assist
  • Proactive occupant protection
  • Manoeuvre braking, front and rear

The post 2024 Volkswagen Touareg R price and specs appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 05:45:00 +0000

2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door review
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : James Ward

The Mini Cooper S gets the letter-sport treatment by way of JCW. It’s cool but...

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The Mini Cooper S gets the letter-sport treatment by way of JCW. It’s cool but pricey, making us wonder if $60K could be better spent elsewhere.

2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door

The alphabet is a magic pudding provider of naming and branding opportunities for the automotive world. Boardroom marketeers across the globe can simply spin the 26-character wheel and throw on the word ‘Sport’, ‘Design’ or ‘Line’ to create a whole new ‘Sport Design Line’ of product capability.

The Europeans are experts in this space, with BMW M Sport, Mercedes-Benz AMG Line, Volkswagen R-Line, Volvo R-Design and Audi S Line but a few of the sporty by name though not always by nature badging options.

Hyundai has N Line, Lexus has F Sport, and now Mini has joined the game by taking its famous John Cooper Works performance arm and diluting it to a ‘JCW Sport’ appearance package.

This makes our 2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport a sportier-looking Cooper S but not a fully-fledged JCW model, very much in the same way that Mini’s parent BMW applies M Sport as a trim grade below a full-tilt M car.

In a way, the JCW Sport line simplifies the Mini Cooper S line-up, as buyers can now choose from a predefined Classic, Mini Yours, JCW Sport or Resolute as a styling base, rather than wading through a zillion options to create a wholly customised car as they used to do.

But while alphabetised badge upgrades offer some sporty appeal, they tend to add cost rather than performance, leaving buyers to wonder if a more personalised statement is ultimately worth the spend.

How much does the Mini Cooper S cost in Australia?

The 2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door is priced from $55,400 before options and on-road costs, and has an estimated drive-away price in Victoria of $59,739.

If you want the added functionality of the longer-wheelbase Cooper S five-door hatch, you can add another $1925 to the total for $57,325 before on-roads.

In terms of range positioning, the ‘regular’ Cooper S Classic 3-Door, which shares the same 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, starts from $49,300 ($6100 less), but the punchier 170kW/320Nm Cooper JCW Essential starts from $59,250 ($3850 more).

You do get a bit of gear in the JCW Sport, with a panoramic sunroof, 17-inch wheels, unique body styling, adaptive suspension and a head-up display all included.

The unique JCW Sport front bumper ditches the colour-coded panel of the regular Cooper and replaces it with a faux-mesh texture, making the new car look more like the old car, which in my opinion isn’t a bad thing.

There are eight colour choices (ours is Island Blue), an option of colouring the roof and mirrors black, white or body-coloured, plus a stripe kit all available at no cost, which we have to admit is a refreshing change.

Mini states there are a staggering 58 variations available, which means you’re sure to find one that works for you.

To contextualise all this, you can get a less-sporty-looking and lower-spec Cooper S with the same power (and up to 34 colour variations) for six grand less, which is arguably a more sensible decision.

For the same budget, you could land a more powerful 180kW Cupra Leon VZ or Volkswagen Golf GTI, a fully-electric Cupra Born, or even the ludicrous 320kW MG 4 XPower EV.

None of these are a Mini, though, and if you’re drawn to the undeniable charm of the cheery-faced icon (as I was back in 2016), then why not? You only live once!

Key details2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door
Price$55,400 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carIsland Blue
OptionsJet Black roof and mirror caps – No cost
Black bonnet stripes – No cost
Drive-away price$59,739 (estimated in Victoria)
RivalsCupra Leon VZ | Volkswagen Golf GTI | MG 4 XPower

How much space does the Mini Cooper S have inside?

How many people do you need to fit in your Mini? If your answer is less than three, then read on. Any more and you really do need to reconsider.

The back seats are tight and hard to access. Fitting a booster, let alone a child seat, is a chore. So if you’ve got children who will sometimes travel in the back, you had better hope they have no basketball-playing genealogical aspirations.

The boot is small too. The Mini badge is used with no sense of irony at all.

Sure, you’ll fit the shopping or a backpack, but don’t buy a Cooper looking for a practical multi-tool and you’ll manage fine. The 211-litre space includes a removable floor to hide regular items or fit larger ones, but you can always fold the rear seats should you need to carry something a bit bigger.

As a one or two-person urban runabout, though, a three-door Cooper makes more sense than you’d think.

The head room and shoulder space up front are great. The materials are high quality and the car is well put together. While paying $60K for a zippy urbaner may seem like a frivolous expenditure, the JCW Sport trim and elements around the cabin do make this Cooper feel a bit special and solidly premium.

That said, there are no power seats or even a heating option. Power we can abide by, but the lack of seat heating is a misstep at this price point.

The updated interior, which traded the circular analogue speedometer for a digital one and added lashings of shiny black bits, helps the car look slicker, but it’s still largely the same as when this third-generation BMW-Mini launched a decade ago, and feeling it.

Case in point, the phone holder in the central armrest can’t fit even a smaller-sized modern iPhone with a slim cover on it. If you’re a big phone fan, forget it.

A new-generation car arrives next year and promises a much-needed interior review, but it does look like it will transition to a far more modern screen-and-touch-based world rather than keeping the fun toggles and dials of this car. So if you like the tactile Mini-ness that has persisted thus far, maybe grab one while you can!

2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door
Boot volume211L seats up
731L seats folded

Does the Mini Cooper S have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

The 8.8-inch rectangular screen, housed in the circular binnacle (that now features a strange, light-up barcode-like motif on the edges) is a familiar Mini hallmark.

The updated menus and graphical interface help keep the system feeling modern, and there is support for wireless Apple Carplay and tethered Android Auto as standard. You also have access to the Mini Connect telemetry system, which enables you to connect and communicate with the car from your phone.

It’s an easy system to use, with a note that the new chrome ring around the binnacle reflects the illumination of the buttons, so it can be tricky when on the move to tap the right place and not the reflection.

All the fun Mini functions are there, like the ‘maximum Go-Kart mode’ when you flip the Sport toggle and the energy-minimiser game with Gary the fish.

We would argue that the colour palette isn’t as slick as the similar implementation on the BMW software, but all the features work well and the interface is largely intuitive enough to become familiar with quickly.

The new 5.5-inch dashboard display is also clear and reasonably easy to use, although you can only display one secondary data point at any one time. This is more a personal bugbear of mine rather than a shortcoming, but Mini has opted to hide traditional dials on each side of a small trip computer display rather than implementing a true digital instrument cluster.

Is the Mini Cooper S a safe car?

The third-generation Mini Cooper was originally tested in 2014, but that rating (four stars) expired at the end of 2022, so the Cooper is currently unrated.

Then, the car scored well on the frontal offset collision test (91 per cent) and reasonably on the side impact test (76 per cent). Because ANCAP crash test criteria are updates on an ongoing basis, it’s not possible to compare the Mini’s 2014 result with a contemporary crash test (and safety assist) equivalent.

2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door
ANCAP ratingUnrated
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report
(pre-facelift with four stars tested 2014)

What safety technology does the Mini Cooper S have?

You’ll find six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), and a back-to-base SOS call system that contacts emergency services in the event of an accident.

The lane-departure warning system is unobtrusive, but our test drive was largely conducted around town, so we didn’t put this or the adaptive cruise control function through a rigorous field test. The head-up display is a welcome addition for taller drivers, though.

There is a rear camera but no fancy 360-degree functions or blind-spot indicators. This is a decade-old platform and it shows it here.

How much does the Mini Cooper S cost to maintain?

Mini buyers can opt for a $2020 five-year basic service plan (averaging out to $404 per year) that covers all regular intervals for fluids and filters, but not brakes or wipers. These can be added separately.

Insurance for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW, has an estimate of $1361 per year for comprehensive cover. This means the Cooper S JCW Sport will cost about $150 per month just to own, before fuel or any finance costs. Note that insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door
WarrantyFive years, unlimited km
Service intervalsCondition-based
Servicing costs$2020 (5 years)

Is the Mini Cooper S fuel-efficient?

Mini claims a reasonable 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle for the little turbo Cooper. While the urban claim steps up to 7.3L/100km, I have to admit I never saw close to either of those.

Enjoying but not thrashing the sporty Cooper S had a predominantly urban test returning 9.1L/100km. Maybe the car was new, maybe I enjoyed the torquey response, maybe fuel consumption was not my priority.

I’d suggest that if a more frugal experience is on your wish list, you pop down a rung to the non-S Cooper and its little three-cylinder engine, or slip over to electric-town in the Cooper SE. A Cooper S may be small and technically frugal, but it’s never been the reason for choosing one!

Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp

Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)5.8L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)9.1L/100km
Fuel type95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size44L

What is the Mini Cooper S like to drive?

If you’ve never driven this or any previous generation of the BMW-Mini, can I suggest you pop it on your bucket list as something to do before you can’t get cars like this anymore.

Depress the bright red start-paddle to fire it up, flip a toggle to activate Sport mode, enjoy the mixture of actual and artificial exhaust burble, and get ready to smile.

We go on quite a bit about how much fun a Cooper S can be, but there is really no other word for it. This has been, and still is, a tremendously fun car.

Perhaps the diminutive size and wheel-at-each-corner stance of the Mini give you a sense of the impossibly low centre of gravity and stability. Perhaps the weighted but accurate steering makes you feel you’re in a sportier car than you really are. Whatever the situational rationalisation you make, driving a little Cooper is a blast.

The 141kW/280Nm output of the little B48 engine isn’t massive, but the response is near instant (peak of 280Nm between 1350 and 4600rpm) giving you a real taste of urgency off the line. It feels punchy enough, all the time, and for an urban runabout that’s really all you can ask!

Take care, though, as wet roads, slick tram tracks, or even tighter corners can trigger the traction control systems. Even skirting the edge of the orange light, you’ll feel the steering wheel tug as the little eight-inch-wide front tyres (205/45 R17) try their best to get power to the ground.

It may not be the last word in technological prowess or performance refinement, but it certainly makes you feel like you are part of the equation. Wherever the Mini goes, you go. A symbiotic connection that makes the whole decision to buy such a personal car make more sense the more you drive.

Under power, or through tighter sections, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission can strangely feel a bit slow to react. This is heightened when shifting down under braking.

Again, perhaps this is an assessment born of a desire for an even sportier mechanical connection to go with the JCW branding. The Mini sucks you into its fun little world, but with a lack of a manual option now, it would have been nice to see at least a sportier tune filter its way into the automatic.

That said, when you are simply zipping about town, the car is very easy to drive and the transmission is certainly smooth enough. The ride, too, on 17-inch wheels, is firm and sporty but comfortable with that inherent sense of stability.

Likeable to the end, the Cooper S JCW Sport may be getting on, but it will keep you smiling.

Key details2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power141kW @ 5000-6000rpm
Torque280Nm @ 1350–4600rpm
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power-to-weight ratio115kW/t
Weight (kerb)1225kg
Turning circle10.8m

Should I buy a Mini Cooper S?

The Mini Cooper has always made a personal and fashionable statement for those who choose to drive them, and the 2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport is no exception.

Like the other alphabet-line badges, the JCW Sport provides a sense of sporty appeal without asking owners to lean all the way into the John Cooper Works universe. And with the range of colourways available, it makes an already personal and fashionable decision decidedly more so.

Given the compromises in size and functionality, a three-door Cooper is unashamedly a personal car, and it is here that the JCW Sport works best. This is a car that says what you want it to, just like a pair of sneakers – only just a little bit bigger.

As the last hurrah for this third-generation Cooper, it does feel nicely presented and characterfully resolved, but remains a heart-based purchase, especially in the company of more modern or focused peers.

Despite trading on an abundance of character, torque steer under throttle, passive gear changes and cold seats on a winter’s day don’t really cut it nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century. Think of it as a much-loved sporting or media personality that has been around for a while, who everyone seems to still like, but no one quite knows why.

It isn’t cheap, it doesn’t have every feature, and it isn’t quite as performance-oriented as the badging would suggest, but it’s fun, stylish, and then fun again. Don’t pretend you are making a sensible choice with a sporty-look Mini and you won’t be disappointed!

How do I buy a Mini Cooper S – next steps?

If you like the idea of a brand-new Mini Cooper S before the brand-new Mini Cooper arrives in 2024, you’ll need to be quick.

The three main trim grades of Classic, Yours and JCW Sport are available to order up until the end of the year, but the special ‘Resolute’ edition expires at the end of October.

Mini Australia notes that the time from order to delivery is about three months, which isn’t too bad considering the level of personalisation available, and that there is stock on the ground if you don’t mind seeing what is already available.

You can play with the configurator on the Mini Australia website to get things just right, or contact your local Mini dealer to arrange a test drive and either place an order or see what it currently has available. You can also find Minis for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.

As funky as the JCW Sport is, we’d still look at the regular Cooper S Classic for a slightly less frills but just as fun approach to Mini life. Pop us down for a Chili Red one with a white roof and stripes.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

The post 2023 Mini Cooper S JCW Sport 3-Door review appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 05:30:00 +0000

What’s the difference between the Volvo XC60 and Volvo XC90?
Posted on Thursday November 30, 2023

Author : Emma Notarfrancesco

Volvo’s medium XC60 and large XC90 SUVs are both popular offerings for the Swedish automaker....

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Volvo’s medium XC60 and large XC90 SUVs are both popular offerings for the Swedish automaker. But when should you choose one over the other?

Both the Volvo XC60 and XC90 have proven to be successful models for the brand – offering style, advanced equipment, comfort and space.

Both offerings received new features and a renamed range for the 2023 model year, but the changes came with price rises across the board.

RELATED: What’s the difference between the Subaru Outback and Subaru Forester?

So far in 2023, the XC60 is proving slightly more popular than its larger sibling, with Volvo selling 2152 XC60 models and 1123 XC90 models.

In the running tally for January to October sales, the XC60 placed seventh in its competitive medium luxury SUV segment, while the XC90 came in eighth in its respective large luxury SUV segment.

If you’re trying to decide between the two Volvo models, you’ll want to find out which one is best suited to your individual requirements.

Volvo XC60 vs Volvo XC90: In a nutshell

In simple terms, the Volvo XC90 is bigger, more expensive and offers two more seats than the Volvo XC60.

However, both models offer the choice of a plug-in hybrid petrol powertrain or a turbo petrol engine with mild-hybrid system, and both cars offer all-wheel-drive capabilities, an eight-speed automatic transmission and ample safety equipment.

Here’s everything else you need to know.

How much does the Volvo XC60 cost?

The Volvo XC60 range kicks off at $73,990 for the base-model Plus B5, with the range-topping T8 Ultimate starting at $101,990. These prices exclude on-road costs. 

How much does the Volvo XC90 cost?

The Volvo XC90 range is more expensive than the XC60 range, starting at $100,990 for the Ultimate B5 Bright and stretching to $128,990 for the Recharge Ultimate T8 Plug-in Hybrid. These prices exclude on-road costs. 

How big is the Volvo XC60?

The XC60 is considered a medium SUV, rivalling vehicles such as the Lexus NX, Genesis GV70, and BMW X3. It measures 4708mm long, 1999mm wide, and 1658mm high, and sits on a wheelbase of 2865mm. 

How big is the Volvo XC90?

The XC90 sits in the large SUV category, competing with the likes of the Genesis GV80, Audi Q7, and Lexus RX. It’s 4953mm long, 2008mm wide, 1771mm high, and sits on a wheelbase of 2984mm. 

How big is the boot in the Volvo XC60?

The Volvo XC60 has a cargo capacity of 505L with the rear seats upright (or 468L for T8 models), while its maximum capacity is 1792L with the rear seats folded.

How big is the boot in the Volvo XC90?

The Volvo XC90 has a boot capacity of 262L to the third row, 680L to the second row (640L for Recharge models), and 1868L to the first row.

How many seats does the Volvo XC60 have?

The Volvo XC60 offers five seats. If you’re in the market for a seven-seater, you’ll need to upgrade to its larger sibling – the XC90.

How many seats does the Volvo XC90 have?

The Volvo XC60 offers seven seats as standard.

Is the Volvo XC60 all-wheel drive?

Yes. All four models in the XC60 line-up are all-wheel drive.

Powering B5 models is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine developing 183kW and 350Nm, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive, for a 6.9-second 0–100km/h time, and claimed fuel use of 7.6 litres per 100km in mixed driving. It’s also fitted with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

B6 models add an electric supercharger to the 2.0-litre mild-hybrid engine, producing outputs of 220kW and 420Nm for a 6.2-second 0–100km/h time and an 8.0L/100km combined fuel economy claim.

The flagship plug-in hybrid pairs a 233kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder powering the front wheels with a 107kW/309Nm electric motor at the rear, with an eight-speed automatic and an 18.8kWh battery.

Volvo claims combined outputs of 340kW and 709Nm. Up to 81km of all-electric driving range is claimed, along with a 1.6L/100km fuel economy figure.

Is the Volvo XC90 all-wheel drive?

Yes. All three models of the XC90 are all-wheel drive.

Powering the Plus B5 is a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine offering 183kW and 350Nm, aided by a mild-hybrid system.

B6 models bring an electric supercharger to the 2.0-litre hybridised engine, providing outputs of 220kW and 420Nm. Both B5 and B6 models use eight-speed automatic transmissions and standard all-wheel drive.

Volvo claims 0–100km/h acceleration times of 7.7 and 6.7 seconds for the B5 and B6 models, respectively, and claimed fuel consumption of 8.2L/100km (in mixed driving) across all mild-hybrid models.

The plug-in hybrid offers a combined 233kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo engine driving the front wheels, with a 107kW/309Nm electric motor powering the rears. It’s equipped with an eight-speed automatic, is all-wheel drive, and packs an 18.8kWh battery pack. Volvo claims combined power and torque outputs of 340kW and 709Nm, with claimed combined fuel consumption of 1.8L/100km and claimed all-electric range of 77km.

Is the Volvo XC60 a hybrid or electric car?

All Volvo vehicles currently have some form of electrification, whether it be a plug-in hybrid or mild-hybrid system. An all-electric replacement for the XC60 is slated for Australia in 2024.

Is the Volvo XC90 a hybrid or electric?

As Volvo’s EV-only future draws ever closer, the brand’s luxury seven-seater will be available in all-electric form. Known as the Volvo EX90, the electric SUV has already been spoken for in Europe, with order books temporarily closed across the continent, but this instant sell-out is not expected to affect stock in Australia.

Does the Volvo XC60 have a spare wheel?

Yes, the Volvo XC60 offers a temporary-use spare wheel. However, plug-in hybrid XC60 models trade a spare for a tyre repair kit.

Does the Volvo XC90 have a spare wheel?

Yes, the Volvo XC90 offers a temporary-use spare wheel. However, plug-in hybrid XC90 models trade a spare for a tyre repair kit.

Is the Volvo XC60 safe?

The Volvo XC60 was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017. It scored 98 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent pedestrian protection, and 95 per cent for safety assistance.

All Volvo XC60 models receive ample safety features as standard, including seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse), adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-keep assist, lane centring, blind-spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic alert, front, side, and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, and traffic sign recognition.

Is the Volvo XC90 safe?

The Volvo XC90 was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2015, but this rating expired last year and is no longer applicable under more stringent ANCAP testing protocols.

The XC90 is equipped with a similar level of safety technology as the XC60, boasting seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse), lane-keep assist, lane centring, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, a 360-degree camera and front, side and rear parking sensors.

The post What’s the difference between the Volvo XC60 and Volvo XC90? appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 01:47:22 +0000

Drive TV: We take the Hyundai Palisade to Phillip Island
Posted on Wednesday November 29, 2023

Author : Emma Notarfrancesco

Tune in to Channel 9 this Sunday to catch our drive to one of the...

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Tune in to Channel 9 this Sunday to catch our drive to one of the most popular islands in Australia.

On this week’s episode of Drive TV, Emma takes the stylish, range-topping Hyundai Palisade on a drive to a premium bucket list location – ideal for families, adventurers, and revheads.

Catch Episode 7 of Season 6 this Sunday on Channel 9.

This weekend, Drive TV will air at 12:30pm in Victoria and New South Wales. For those watching in Queensland, catch it at 11:30am, 12:00pm in South Australia, 3:30pm in Perth, and 10:00am in the Northern Territory.

The post Drive TV: We take the Hyundai Palisade to Phillip Island appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 01:33:16 +0000

2024 Dacia Duster revealed, poised for Australia as a Renault
Posted on Wednesday November 29, 2023

Author : Jordan Mulach

This rugged-looking Dacia Duster small SUV is expected to be sold in Australia as a...

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This rugged-looking Dacia Duster small SUV is expected to be sold in Australia as a Renault from 2025 – but it may not earn a five-star safety rating.

The 2024 Dacia Duster – a SUV made by French car maker Renault’s Romanian budget brand – has been unveiled for Europe, and it is in line for Australian showrooms.

As previously reported, the Duster small SUV is expected to be rebadged as a Renault and sold by the French brand’s Australian distributor from 2025 – meaning Australia will have its first Dacia, but not with the niche name.

However executives have warned the Duster may miss out on a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

MORE: Dacia Duster and Bigster SUVs a step closer to Australia, with Renault badges

The third-generation Dacia Duster is built upon a more basic version of the ‘CMF-B’ platform which underpins the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, allowing the small SUV to adopt modern engines from its parent company’s line-up.

There are three engines on offer: a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder, capable of running on petrol (67kW/160Nm) or LPG (75kW/170Nm), a turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance, or a 70kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 37kW electric motor in a full hybrid variant.

Both the turbocharged engines are available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, while the most powerful hybrid is only mated to an automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the turbocharged options, with all-wheel drive available for the two hybrids.

The Duster measures 4340mm in length, 1910mm wide and 1660mm tall, boasting a 472-litre boot and approach/departure angles of 31 and 36 degrees respectively for all-wheel-drive versions.

The base ‘Essential’ grade has fewer luxury features to keep the price down, featuring a four-speaker sound system, a 3.5-inch digital instrument display, an integrated smartphone mount – in place of a dedicated infotainment screen – and a USB port.

The mid-level Expression gains a 10.1-inch touchscreen – with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities – plus a 7.0-inch digital instrument display and 17-inch wheels.

Towards the top of the range is the Extreme – equipped with off-road-focused features such as rubber floor and boot mats, modular roof bars, washable interior upholstery and a built-in navigation system – and the flagship Duster Journey.

The Dacia Duster Journey adds wireless smartphone charging, a six-speaker sound system, keyless entry and start, built-in satellite navigation and 18-inch wheels.

All variants of the Dacia Duster are equipped with cruise control and a speed limiter system – a soon-to-be requirement in Europe – as well as automatic low-beam headlights, autonomous emergency braking, speed sign recognition, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and a driver attention alert.

The Dacia Duster is fitted with six airbags, omitting a centre airbag which has become a key step towards – but not a requirement for – a five-star safety rating in Australia.

More information on the Dacia Duster’s Australian launch will be reported when information is made available.

The post 2024 Dacia Duster revealed, poised for Australia as a Renault appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 01:04:00 +0000

The Renault Megane RS Ultime is a fitting farewell to one of the hot hatch greats
Posted on Wednesday November 29, 2023

Author : Rob Margeit

On 31 December, Renault will bid adieu to its performance brand. To celebrate we took...

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On 31 December, Renault will bid adieu to its performance brand. To celebrate we took the last ever car from Renault Sport for one final fling.

It’s stickered on the side of the Renault Megane RS Ultime, large but in a very subtle matte black – ‘1976’.

It’s the year Renault’s motorsport division, Renault Sport, was born.

It was then when Renault, wanting to centralise its motorsport division, merged Alpine (which it had bought in 1973) and Gordini (in which Renault had bought a majority 70 per cent stake in 1968 before assuming full ownership in 1977) to form the all-encompassing Renault Sport.

But far from making the hot road cars we know and revere today, Renault Sport was tasked solely with competing in the world of motorsport. And it did so with aplomb, tasting success at Le Mans, changing the direction of Formula 1 for ever, winning world rally events, and delighting a legion of tin-top fans in what was arguably the golden era of the British Touring Car Championship.

But those early days were strictly about competition. Sure, the Renault 5 Turbo, known also as Renault 5 Alpine and Renault 5 Gordini has passed into hot hatch folklore. And the mid-1980s Renault Alpine GTA built on the mystique of the Alpine A310.

But in terms of Renault Sport road cars, we had to wait until 1996 before we saw the famous ‘RS’ badge.

The Renault Sport Spider was a statement car, a two-seat roadster that said emphatically Renault as a performance brand was back. The Renault Clio RS, the spiritual successor to the awe-inspiring and fearsome 1980’s Renault 5 Turbo, followed in 1998.

But it was 2001’s Renault Clio V6, built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing but designed by Renault Sport, that heralded the performance brand’s arrival.

Powered by mid-mounted 3.0-litre V6, the Clio V6 was as a bonkers as its specs suggest, 169kW and 300Nm and a 0-100km/h time of a smidge over six seconds. The snarling V6 lived just behind the driver, in the space usually reserved for second row passengers. And its kerb appeal, all wings, wheel arches and wide bits – the Clio V6 sat 171mm wider, 66mm lower, and 38mm longer than a regular Clio – lent it an almost otherworldly profile.

This was the new era of hot hatches. Or it should have been had the Clio V6 not been a tricky beast to drive; unstable and unpredictable.

Still, as far as statements go, the Clio V6 howled like a banshee, ‘Renault is back, baby!’

Tamer Clio RSs followed, and a smattering of the diminutive Twingo RSs, when in 2004, the French brand released the first Megane RS.

A direct rival to the benchmark Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Megane RS borrowed the Golf’s formula, taking an otherwise pretty humble city car (in this case the second-generation Megane hatchback) and turning it into an affordable performance car for the masses.

The original RS featured a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol pumping out 165kW and 300Nm, propelling the front-wheel drive hot hatch from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds. A French legend was born.

The Megane RS has grown in the intervening two decades, in size, performance and reputation. Through three generations, each more potent than the previous, the Megane RS is already a classic of the hot hatch genre. And, following the end of the Clio RS in 2018, is the last remaining RS model made by Renault.

But the yellow and black curtain is about come down on the Megane as well, and on the whole ‘Renault Sport’ operation, if only in name, because, on 31 December, 2023, it will cease to exist, rebranded as Alpine, completing a full circle that began at the tail end of 1976.

But before then, one last final soiree, an ultimate yellow and black party trick sending the Megane RS and Renault Sport into the history books before they re-emerge, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, in an entirely new form.

And that party trick is this, the 2023 Renault Megane RS Ultime. Pronounced ‘ool teem’, you don’t need to be a student of the French language to know it means ‘last’, or ‘ultimate’.

Fittingly, Renault has made exactly 1976 of the final RS, a nod to Renault Sport’s foundation year. Of those, Australia received just 40 and as at time of writing, there remain but a handful left in stock.

I didn’t want to let one of my favourite hot hatches disappear without one final fling so when Renault’s Australian distributor offered me the opportunity to spend some time in the Ultime, I offered a resounding, “Oui, s’il vous plait!”

I’ve always liked the styling of the Megane RS, especially when finished in the brand’s signature Sirius Yellow metallic paint that glitters in the sun like no other. It’s festooned with plenty of matte black decals – on the roof, bonnet, rear bumper, doors and wheel arches, as well as that previously-mentioned ‘1976’ branding on the right side of the car.

The black theme continues with 19-inch ‘Fuji Light’ alloys as well as black badges, door handles, window surrounds, wheel-arch accents, front bumper trim and rear diffuser.

Inside, the Megane RS Ultime scores Recaro sports bucket seats, garnished with black Alcantara upholstery and red ‘RS’ embroidery, unique numbered door sills, and a numbered build plate signed by Renault Sport’s development driver Laurent Hurgon.

While there are plenty of visual cues differentiating the Megane RS Ultime from regular RSs, under the bonnet it’s a familiar story with Renault’s turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine carried across from the RS Trophy, developing an unchanged 221kW and 400Nm in manual guise, with the automatic benefitting from an an extra 20Nm.

Renault reckons the RS Ultime can complete the benchmark dash from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds, the same as the Trophy RS.

The price for all this ultimate decoration is $67,500 before on-road costs for the six-speed manual and $70,500 for buyers who opt for the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, both representing a premium of $4000 over the Trophy RS.

That completes the rational nuts and bolts of the Megane RS Ultime which is, on the surface and on paper, decoration.

And then there’s the emotional involvement, that feeling you enjoy when it’s just you, an open road, little traffic and a hot hatch with an unquestionably pedigree. So it is with equal parts sadness and delight that I head off for what will be, my last ever drive in an RS-badged Renault.

Sure, the transition of Renault’s sports division to Alpine will mean more performance models from the French carmaker. But they will be electric and while undoubtedly faster, and maybe even better all-round packages, those electric performance cars just won’t have that same emotional pull.

I want to experience that emotional connection one last time so rather than spend my time in the Megane RS Ultime pottering around Sydney traffic, I head out of town in search of that visceral feeling only a well-sorted combustion car can bring.

Heading south out of Sydney means having to spend around 45 minutes navigating suburban traffic. It’s not the Megane RS’s happy place, the firm suspension making its presence felt over every bump in the road.

It’s a trade-off though, and I know when its moments comes to shine, that firm suspension will offer rich rewards in tactility and ability.

That moment comes once I clear Sydney’s outskirts and head into the Royal National Park and its long stretches of winding and twisting blacktop that provide a decent canvas to enjoy the Megane RS Ultime’s abilities.

The ‘Nasho’ as it is known has been neutered over the years. Heavily policed and with most of its twisting ribbons of tarmac sign-posted at 60km/h, it’s gained notoriety on social media thanks to the Help, I’ve binned my car in the Nasho Facebook page.

But for all its clamp downs on speed, the Nasho even at 60km/h is testament to the adage that, in the right car, you don’t need to be driving fast to find enjoyment behind the wheel. And the Renault Megane RS Ultime is, today, the right car.

Brimming with character, the Ultime is happiest when given a long leash, when you allow that glorious 1.8-litre to build revs, a build-up accompanied by a guttural growl and accompanying bangs on upshifts.

Of course, the dash to the sign-posted limit doesn’t allow for much in the way of hardcore acceleration but this day isn’t about that. Instead, it’s about experiencing the Megane’s 4Control rear-wheel steering which adds a lively and agile demeanour to Renault’s hot hatch, one that shines around the Nasho’s tight bends and tighter hairpins.

It’s best described as a feisty hatchback, and one that doesn’t need to be pushed too hard to offer reward. The 1.8-litre turbo-four offers plenty of low-down punch while the six-speed dual-clutch is cracker, with razor-like precision shifts when left to its own devices, a precision not diminished should you choose to effect your own cog swaps via the steering column-mounted paddle shifters.

That feistiness is embodied by the Megane RS Ultime’s soundtrack which is as heady as any we’ve experienced in the hot hatch genre, with growling mien accompanied by pops and bangs on gear changes that will be missed. It’s a silly thing to grieve, but for those people who derive an emotional pleasure from driving, the sound of internal combustion will be sorely missed.

I know I will, even as I embrace an electric car future that promises so much in terms of performance and technology. I wonder if the Royal National Park’s excellent, albeit castrated, driving roads will feel the same in an electric hot hatch.

Will I miss the sound of exhaust bounce off the canopy of trees? Will the echo of rapid-fire gear changes bounce off the towering cliffs be conspicuous by their absence?

Or will a new breed of hot hatches redefine the notion of a performance car for the masses?

Renault and its Alpine performance division is, like so many carmakers with both eyes firmly on the road of the future, banking on it.

And that’s what makes cars like this one, the last of its kind from the French brand, so very special, a tactile celebration of Renault’s first 124 years.

Au revoir, Renault Sport and over to you, Alpine Cars.

The post The Renault Megane RS Ultime is a fitting farewell to one of the hot hatch greats appeared first on Drive.


Thu, 30 Nov 2023 01:01:00 +0000

2023 MG 4 Excite 51 review
Posted on Wednesday November 29, 2023

Author : Peter Anderson

MG’s dedicated electric platform debuts in Australia in the form of the MG 4 hatchback....

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MG’s dedicated electric platform debuts in Australia in the form of the MG 4 hatchback. MG says it’s a little bit spicy, so Peter Anderson fires it down his favourite roads.

2023 MG 4 Excite 51

Twelve months ago, I’d have laughed at you if you told me MG had a hot hatch on the horizon. I would be happy to concede that MG would tell us it’s a hot hatch, but it would just be a few stickers and a stodgy reheat of the deeply ordinary MG 3 hatch.

The all-electric MG 4 arrived a couple of months ago, and I am not even smirking let alone laughing. It’s an entire world away from both the MG 3 and its other electric offering, the ZS EV. It’s built on a proper dedicated EV platform, comes in a variety of specifications, and has a tantalisingly well-priced entry-level model, the Excite 51.

Is it a hot hatch, though? Let’s find out.

How much does the MG 4 cost in Australia?

Despite the name, the MG 4 doesn’t really fit in with the MG 3 vibe or even the MG 5, both of which are petrol-engined. Compared to the MG 3, it’s built on a whole new platform known as Modular Scalable Platform (MSP) and not an old hatchback hack that was old when it was new. So it’s not that car’s successor.

It is also significantly cheaper than the ZS EV, the dull-but-worthy first go at a fully-electrified MG in Australia, and despite that is barely smaller inside (if at all), better made, and overall just a bit more convincing.

For your $38,990 you get alloy wheels with a hubcap over them (for Aero, apparently), LED headlights and tail-lights, cloth trim, power windows and mirrors, climate control, four-speaker stereo, MG’s iSmart connectivity, 10.25-inch touchscreen and a digital dashboard.

The big touchscreen is a bit of a surprise for an entry-level model, which does feel like an old-school stripped-out car to make the intended price point. Having said that, this is the second time I’ve driven this car, and not once felt like it was missing anything of note that made me curse its short feature list. So the screen makes it look more expensive than it is, purely because of its size and the expectation you’d find it in a much more expensive car.

Maybe I have EV brain, but I guess getting a fully-electric car under 40 grand means the return of the poverty pack. But as I say, there’s nothing really missing, except a couple of bits of safety gear that aren’t critical, which we’ll talk about in a minute.

The price is competitive with BYD’s Dolphin, which you can only just now get and it’s smaller. The Atto 3, also from BYD, is slightly bigger and more on par with the ZS EV’s price but might be worth a look. GWM’s Ora, a small hatchback that is probably closer to the Dolphin than the MG, starts at $39,990 with a slightly smaller battery but a similar on-paper range.

A Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid is $39,100. Just putting that out there.

Key details2023 MG 4 Excite 51
Price$38,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carCamden Grey metallic
OptionsMetallic paint – $720
Price as tested$39,710 plus on-road costs
RivalsGWM Ora | BYD Dolphin | Toyota Corolla

How much space does the MG 4 have inside?

You may already be across this, but if you’re new to EVs you will see or hear people talking about dedicated electric platforms. Because EVs need far less hardware under the floor, you end up with a lot more space no matter how many wheels drive the car along. A car this size that is rear-wheel drive is pretty cramped in the back because there’s a propshaft to drive the wheels and that takes up space.

With just cabling to take power to the motor, there’s no need for a big hump in the floor to accommodate a spinning metal post, so the floor can be near-as-dammit flat giving the middle rear passenger a bit more space. So we’ll start in the back seat, where there is good leg room for a 180cm medium-build fellow like myself sitting behind someone of similar stature. Plenty of knee and head clearance for me, so the kids will be fine.

Well, they’ll fit. There are no cupholders, armrests or even map pockets. Just a solitary USB-A port, a slot for lollies I guess. The high window line means kids not in a booster might find it a bit grim. There’s also quite a thick C-pillar, which not only compromises over-the-shoulder vision for the driver, but also cuts light from the cabin.

The seats themselves are comfortable if a little on the squidgy side – that goes for the front seats too – but given this particular model is unlikely to venture too far, it’s unlikely to be a big deal. 

In the front, the seats look pretty good and even a bit sporty, but once you’re in you realise they’re pretty standard and they won’t hold you in particularly well. Again, a mite on the foamy, squidgy side but nothing dramatically unpleasant. The raised section where your phone goes, and where you’ll find the rotary dial controller for the shifter, clears a lot of space between the driver and passenger for bits and pieces or even a small handbag/manbag. 

There is a USB-A port on the left and a USB-C port on the right, a pair of cupholders, a little netted thing where you might be able to store a phone to stop it rolling around, and an armrest with a deep bin underneath. USB-A is how you get your Apple CarPlay and Android Auto up. Both are available and both are wired, so the lack of wireless charging won’t be too traumatic.

Some of the plastics in the cabin are very hard and scratchy, and both these and the vinyl used on some surfaces mark up with alarming ease. You’ll have to be pretty careful to maintain the interior or just not care, but either way, you’re going to have to clean a lot of marks at some point.

The boot is a decent size and competitive with petrol hatchbacks of a similar size. You get 363 litres with the seats in place and when the 60/40 sections are folded down you have 1177L. What you don’t have is a flat boot floor, however, so if that’s a concern, definitely have a look at that at the dealer.

2023 MG 4 Excite 51
Boot volume363L seats up
1177L seats folded

Does the MG 4 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

A big 10.25-inch touchscreen stretches itself out in the centre of the dash, and it’s not a bad unit at all. The MG software is pretty basic to look at, and could do with a proper UI designer having a go at making it a bit nicer to look at and use, but the information is all there.

It goes without sat nav, which means you don’t get the charger routing when you punch in your destination – probably a little more annoying in the Excite 51 than it might be in the Essence 64 and Long Range 77. Some phone apps will include charger routing, but because they can’t talk to the car and get the state of charge, that’s going to be hit-and-miss.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both wired and require USB-A cables, which is kind of annoying when there’s a USB-C fitting as well.

The system also comes with FM and DAB radio but no AM, which is sure to annoy folks outside of metro areas who like to listen to the ABC (or whatever) through AM. Yes, you can get it through your phone, but data doesn’t go everywhere either.

The MG 4 range comes equipped with access to the iSmart remote connectivity app to check charge status, vehicle location, and pre-cool the cabin remotely from a paired smartphone.

Is the MG 4 a safe car?

The MG 4 was tested by ANCAP in 2022 and scored the maximum five-star safety rating available.

The MG 4 scored well for Adult Occupant Protection at 83 per cent, Child Occupant Protection at 86 per cent and Safety Assist at 81 per cent. The Vulnerable Road User Protection score was the only one to dip into the 70s, with 75 per cent still a good score.

2023 MG 4 Excite 51
ANCAP ratingFive stars (tested 2022)
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report

What safety technology does the MG 4 have?

The MG 4 arrives with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward AEB and adaptive cruise control. MG calls its safety package MG Pilot, but it’s worth noting that the Excite misses out on blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, exit warning, rear cross traffic alert, and lane-change assist.

Those additional features are included higher up the range in the Essence 64 model and above.

It’s particularly galling that it’s missing out on reverse AEB, but I think every car should have that regardless of cost because it saves so many accidents from happening in the first place. Reverse AEB isn’t available at all on the MG 4, but blind-spot monitoring is on higher models. That feature might be particularly useful in the MG 4 because of the slightly compromised rearward vision.

How much does the MG 4 cost to maintain?

Being an EV, you only need to roll into the dealer every two years or 40,000km, whichever comes first. That makes the first service remarkably cheap at $296 (averaging out at $148 per year if you don’t do more than 20,000km annually). The second service was initially a shock at $907, but that’s four years of motoring for just $1203 of servicing, which averages out at Toyota prices. The third service drops down to $296 again for a six-year cost of $1499 or $250 per year.

Insurance for the MG 4 came out at a hefty $1821 per year based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance2023 MG 4 Excite 51
WarrantySeven years, unlimited km (car and battery)
Service intervals24 months or 40,000km
Servicing costs$1203 (4 years)
$1499 (6 years)

Is the MG 4 energy efficient?

A 51kWh battery isn’t huge, but it’s not bad for a car of this size. MG claims 18.4kWh per 100 kilometres for a driving range of 350km on the WLTP cycle. According to the screen, I got 16.5kWh/100km in the week I had it, which isn’t bad going at all, and is pretty close to what you might expect from a Kia Niro EV.

The practical driving range seems to be about 300km, and you may even do slightly better if you’re exclusively piloting your MG 4 around town. So 350km might be a stretch, but 320km may well be very doable.

A key difference between the Excite 51 and the rest of the range is a lithium ferrophosphate (LFP) battery pack, sometimes confusingly known as lithium iron phosphate. These are cheaper to produce and, while less energy dense, help get the price down. The ‘Well Actually’ internet commentariat is also convinced of the LFP chemistry lending itself to always being charged to 100 per cent, and will go as far as saying the manufacturers recommend such a choice.

I think the jury is out on the real-world longevity and practicality of always going to 100 per cent, but given I like to wait and see how these things go, I won’t say these people are wrong nor will I declare them right. People waiting in the queue at the charge station may also have something to say about you letting it trickle its way to full, as no LFP battery I’ve ever charged went to full at top charging speed, almost always stepping down at around 90 per cent full, if not earlier. 

It’s also worth noting that the 51 and 64 battery packs only have a 6.6kW onboard charger for mains AC charging as opposed to 11kW on the bigger batteries. The 51 also has a maximum charge rate of 88kW while the 64 enjoys 140kW. Practically speaking, most chargers top out at 50kW anyway, and MG says you’ll get from 0–80 per cent charge in 40 minutes at that pace.

I plugged in and got a sustained 50kW at an otherwise deserted charge station, so if you get lucky, it’ll charge quickly. Do not waste the time or an extra 10 or so cents per kilowatt hour on a rapid charger as you won’t get more than 88kW.

Energy Consumption – brought to you by bp

Energy EfficiencyEnergy Stats
Energy cons. (claimed)18.4kWh/100km
Energy cons. (on test)16.5kWh/100km
Battery size51kWh
Driving range claim (WLTP)350km (WLTP)
Charge time (6.6kW)7h 30min
Charge time (50kW)40min (0–80%)
Charge time (88kW max rate)37min (0–80%)

What is the MG 4 like to drive?

With all that minutiae out of the way, we come to the way the MG 4 gets about on the road. As I’ve already said, this is my second go in an MG 4, and while some things weren’t as good as I remembered (the first drive was a pretty quick affair), spending a week with it gave me a new insight into how good it really is to drive.

The MG 4 is rear-wheel drive all through the range until you hit the all-wheel-drive XPower. The differences across the range involve the battery size (51kWh/64kWh/77kWh) and the power and torque of the electric motor(s). The Excite 51 has the smallest battery and the least power, with 125kW and 250Nm of torque.

The things that disappointed me the second time around were minor, and mostly related to my expectations of an improved cabin when compared to the pre-production car I drove. What I found to be even better was the drive experience.

Most importantly, the MG 4 is quite refined. Acceleration is smooth, noise is low, the steering is well weighted and is as progressive as you could hope for in this type of car. Nothing clunks or bonks, and even sharp braking or quick directional changes fail to unsettle the body.

Compare that to a ZS EV that sounds like a haunted house at walking speeds and pitches and rolls like a flag-of-convenience oil tanker in a storm. The MG 4 is composed and quiet at just about all speeds, and even manages to be hushed at highway speeds, with just a rustle around the huge wing mirrors and some distant tyre noise.

And it’s not like it’s on super-low rolling resistance rubber either. MG has fitted some half-decent Continental tyres to even this base model (compare that with the absolute rubbish on the Atto 3), and this is I guess where MG is trying to build the case for the MG 4 being a hot hatch.

While it does most things right on the daily commute, save for a bit of a shudder and shake on rough surfaces, on a fun back road it’s a load of fun, up to a point. The braking is strong, the turn-in is sharp enough, and it’s all terribly competent. Once you’re in a rhythm, it becomes a lot of fun, and when really pushed, rather than understeering, it remains quite neutral.

And just when you push past even that, the unswitchable traction control cuts in and spoils the fun. A hot hatch like, say, the late lamented Ford Fiesta ST, lets you swing it around a bit, but there’ll be no such fun in an MG 4. Sport mode – the only mode anyone should bother with – just changes the way the throttle works and therefore uses a bit more energy to get you up to speed more quickly, but doesn’t do anything obvious to the safety systems.

That’s just a mild complaint, because the way this car behaves when being hustled speaks to a depth of engineering not yet seen in a modern MG. It also speaks of a car company firmly on the right track to punch on with the established heavyweights.

There are a couple of missed opportunities. The one-pedal operation is nothing of the sort, and even when turned up to maximum it isn’t anywhere near enough to pull the car to a stop. Which also means it’s not recovering as much energy as it could. The three steps of regen are basically, none, a bit, and a little bit more.

Secondly, the dash panel is too small. Not as small and cluttered as the BYD Atto 3’s, but some of the readings could be larger and more functional.

Third, the over-the-shoulder vision isn’t great because of that chunky C-pillar. But that’s about it.

The MG 4 is a fine effort, and it would definitely be on my list, were I looking for an affordable EV, because it’s one of the best EVs I’ve driven and one of the best mainstream hatchbacks I’ve driven in a long time.

Key details2023 MG 4 Excite 51
EngineSingle electric motor
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Power-to-weight ratio76.5kW/t
Weight (kerb)1635kg
Spare tyre typeTyre repair kit
Tow rating500kg braked
500kg unbraked
Turning circle10.6m

Should I buy an MG 4?

If the decision to buy an MG 4 hinges on price, it’s a no-brainer. The BYD Dolphin is $100 cheaper but hasn’t got the MG dealer coverage or a more mature approach to supplying customers with a car they’ve bought.

If you’re looking for a fun-to-drive hatchback and don’t care what makes it go, the MG 4 also makes a strangely compelling case for itself because it is a generally fun as well as pleasant car to drive. The looks are a bit of an acquired taste, but then again, you won’t mistake it for anything else.

MG has nailed the brief for getting an EV under 40 grand – it’s spacious, comfortable, just well-enough equipped, and it’s very well-engineered. Time will tell as to its longevity, particularly the cabin fittings, but out of the blocks it’s a much better car than any current MG I’ve driven.

How do I buy an MG 4 – next steps?

The MG 4 Excite 51 is the best place to start if the budget is tight and you don’t need long-distance ability or are prepared to live with regular charge stops if you do go roaming. But if you’ve a bit more to spend, push on to the Excite 64 that has a bigger battery and slightly more power to offset the extra weight. 

The MG website has a good rundown of the various features and figures, and will give you a drive-away price for the model you choose. While states are winding down or have outright killed their incentive programs, all MG 4s come under the luxury car tax limit and are therefore FBT exempt if you’re packaging this into your salary. This would make the MG 4 much cheaper to own than a petrol or hybrid car of a similar price.

You can then go and find an MG dealer here to arrange a test drive, a task that appears straightforward if my social media feeds are anything to go by. When we asked MG Australia about availability the team responded with, “Our MG dealership teams are best placed to advise on the specific delivery time associated with individual specifications and battery pack configurations, but current wait time for the MG 4 is about one month or less depending on location, with a healthy amount of choice in colours and range to meet different customer preferences. We recommend customers consult with their local MG dealer to confirm availability and delivery times for their desired variant”.

You can also find MGs for sale here at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

The post 2023 MG 4 Excite 51 review appeared first on Drive.



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