Rivals at home and now also in Europe. This is the story of the MG4 and the BYD Dolphin, two of the most interesting (and affordable) C-segment electrics on the market. While in China, the Dolphin often ranks among the top 10 best-selling electric vehicles, in the Old Continent it is a different story, partly due to the fact that BYD has only been here for a few months.
Although the two models share the same length of 4.29 metres, the shapes and styling are completely different. The MG4 has a more avant-garde design, with sharp headlamps and taut lines at the sides and rear. In some respects, it resembles a slightly taller and wider hot hatch.
The same is not true of the Dolphin, which has a look marked by softer, sleeker lines and proportions that nod to the world of small MPVs. The BYD is 7 cm taller than the MG4 (157 cm vs. 150 cm).
The aesthetic differences between the two models are also reflected in the customisations available. The BYD is more sober and the MG more extravagant, as it can also be chosen in striking colours such as orange or electric blue, while the XPOWER version has an even sportier look.
MG4 vs. BYD Dolphin, dimensions
The MG4's cabin layout is more traditional and less jarring than that of the Dolphin. There are two monitors in the MG, a 7-inch monitor for the instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch monitor for the infotainment system.
There are several types of upholstery, with different colours creating a chromatic contrast that is not trivial in a car of this segment. For example, there are refined touches such as the two-spoke steering wheel and gearshift wheel, as well as a large area between the front seats to store certain items.
MG4, el interior
BYD Dolphin, el interior
The first striking element of the Dolphin is undoubtedly the 12.8-inch central display that can be swivelled and orientated vertically or horizontally. This enhances its utility, especially when used for navigation. Unexpectedly sporty is the design of the seats with integrated headrests and the relatively pronounced side panels.
The dashboard echoes the exterior styling, while the centre tunnel has a more classic look with physical controls and cup holders.
Boot capacity is very similar. The MG4 offers a volume of between 350 and 1,165 litres (with the rear seats folded down), while the Dolphin's is between 345 and 1,310 litres.
When it comes to motors, the MG4 is a clear winner in terms of variety and power. The base version is powered by a 168 bhp rear motor, while going up a level or two there are also 201 bhp and 242 bhp options. The top of the range is the XPOWER, with dual motor, all-wheel drive producing a combined 429 bhp. It is a true zero-emission compact sports car that does 0-100 km/h in less than 4 seconds.
Three battery sizes: 51, 64 and 77 kWh (the latter only available for the 242 bhp Trophy Extended Range). Range ranges from 350 km (217 miles) for the base model to 520 km (323 mi) for the Extended Range.
BYD is focusing less on sportiness, with a range of 94, 175 and 201 bhp motors, all with front-wheel drive. Two batteries are planned, 44.9 and 60.4 kWh, with ranges of around 310 km (193 mi) for the 175 bhp and almost 430 km (267 mi) for the 201 bhp.
MG4 vs. BYD Dolphin, the engines
|350 to 520 km (217 to 323 mi)
|310 to 430 km (193 to 267 mi)
The MG4 starts at €30,690 (£25,995 in the UK) and goes up to €41,690 (£36,495) for the XPOWER. The latter offers one of the best price/performance ratios on the market: it is difficult to find another car (electric or thermal) capable of offering such high performance for this price.
Interestingly, the basic BYD starts at €29,990 (although the difference in power is evident between the 94 bhp of the Dolphin and the 168 bhp of the MG4). The most expensive variant is the 201 bhp Design trim at €37,690.
MG4 vs. BYD Dolphin, prices