Chinese challengers: MG4 vs BYD Atto 3 | Which is best to lease?
Two EVs. Both from China. The MG4 and BYD Atto 3 are two of the latest electrified offerings from the automotive powerhouse that is China.
We’re going to be seeing a lot more cars from the country over the coming years, but in the here and now, we thought we’d compare two models that are already proving popular.
The MG4 is a family hatchback with the Volkswagen ID.3 in its sights. In fact we’ve already compared the two here. The Atto 3, on the other hand, offers slightly larger crossover-like proportions and offers a tech-filled interior designed to wow the European masses.
But which one should you choose in 2023? Let’s check them out.
Style and size
Let’s start with the MG. The MG4 is a car that shows just how far the brand has come since its relaunch. Compare its looks and overall appeal to something like the MG3 and you’ll see what I mean.
The MG4 offers sharp styling, with a set of sporty angular headlights and contrasting black trim. It’s also available in a range of great colours too, such as the Volcano Orange you see here. Combined with large alloy wheels and that octagonal MG insignia on the front, it’s a great looking thing.
The Atto 3 is a different proposition; still great, but it goes about things differently. First things first: it’s a crossover rather than a hatchback. BYD has actually been in the car business since the 90s, but unlike the MG it’s the first time we’re seeing the brand here.
Externally, it looks to have taken influence from manufacturers like Kia and Hyundai on the styling front. As such, it doesn’t stand out as much as the MG does, but some will find that more appealing.
Its styling is neat and well proportioned, although we have to wonder how popular the “Build Your Dreams” badging will prove on the boot lid.
One thing it does have in common with the MG is the plethora of excellent colours available. Again, BYD pairs these bright hues with gloss-black and metal-effect trim to pleasing effect. All models feature alloy wheels of at least 18in in diameter, too.
Size-wise, the BYD is slightly larger than the MG. It’s just under 4.5 metres long and around 1.8 metres wide. The MG is approximately 4.3 metres long and 1.6 metres wide. So despite its more sedate looks, this gives the BYD slightly more presence on the open road.
Interior and tech
The MG4 offers a well-built interior that feels like a quality product able to compete with the best in the business. The fit and finish is miles ahead of MGs of old, with lots of soft-touch plastics helping to give it a truly premium feel. The driver gets a small digital driver display, while all models feature a 10.25in infotainment touchscreen.
The system reacts quickly to input and is easy to use and, of course, is compatible with the latest smartphone mirroring systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There are some areas that let the interior down though; the steering wheel doesn’t feel as plush as it could do, while the physical buttons don’t quite match the quality of some other materials.
So we said the BYD is a little more conservative than the MG4 on the design front. This is actually completely reversed when it comes to the cabin, with an interior that’s been designed to create a wow factor.
The overall look has been inspired by a gym, and as such there are some neat touches you won’t find anywhere else. Those air vents? They’re designed to look like weights. While the door handles are integrated into the speakers in the upper door.
The BYD’s party piece is the large 15in touchscreen central infotainment system. Press a button on the steering wheel and you can change it from a portrait to landscape unit.
This is a great feature and we can’t understand why more manufacturers haven’t offered this yet. Other quirky design features include the door bins, which utilize strings under tension to hold your odds and ends – give them a pluck and it turns your BYD into a guitar (of sorts).
One slightly less impressive interior feature is the digital driver display. It’s smaller than the one you get in the MG and can be difficult to read. We’d like the display to match the more vivid infotainment system if possible, because no heads up display is currently available on the Atto 3 either.
Size-wise, the BYD’s crossover credentials mean rear passenger room and boot space is better than the MG – you get up to 440 litres of space compared to the MG’s 363.
Driving and range
If you’re after a fun drive, then the MG wins hands down. It’s a hoot – whichever model you opt for acceleration is impressive. But that can be said of the BYD too. The biggest difference comes courtesy of the MG’s lower body. Compared to many EVs, this is a car that offers engaging handling, but that doesn’t come at the expense of the ride either.
That isn’t to say the BYD isn’t a good car to drive. Again, acceleration impresses and outdoes many petrol-powered rivals. The ride is impressive too, with the Atto 3 easily dealing with all but the biggest of undulations well. But it’s the one that’s geared more towards comfort and, being a crossover, it just doesn’t quite have the edge when it comes to driver enjoyment. But for many that lovely interior will compensate for this fact.
As for the drivetrains themselves, both cars’ ranges are easy enough to understand. The MG is offered with either a 51kWh or 64kWh battery. All models produce 203hp, with the 51kWh model capable of up to 218 miles. The Long Range and Trophy models get the larger battery and are capable of around 270 miles.
The BYD gets a clever 60kWh battery pack that offers around 260 miles of range. It can be charged from 20% to 80% in less than half an hour, with the drivetrain the first to feature direct cooling and heating.
This aims to optimize battery range at temperature extremes, offering a 20% increase in efficiency in winter.
Real-world range is different to official range though, but we found both models to be relatively accurate; 200 miles between charging is certainly possible and, by keeping the cars in their respective eco-modes, you edge closer to the official figures.
Which is best to lease?
So which one should you pick if you’re looking to lease? Firstly, the MG: quality has taken a significant step up compared to the brand’s older offerings and that combination of styling and an engaging drive is enticing. It’s only let down by one or two bits of interior trim.
The BYD is arguably the more practical of the two, offering more boot space and more conventional styling. With slightly more range than the MG, combined with its clever battery system, makes up for its slightly more ordinary driving experience. That screen will be a big talking point too, and the interior makes you feel like you’re in something a little special.
If it comes down to price, however, the MG pips it to the post. In the here and now, entry-level models are available for well under £300 per month, while the BYD will cost upwards of £350 per month. So on the value front, the MG is the one to go for. But this could all change in the coming months of course – BYD prices have already been dropping.
Whichever you prefer, you can compare deals on both these models right now by hitting the buttons below. Check out prices and find the best lease plans from the UK’s most trusted brokers, dealers and finance companies.