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MG EX4 concept car gets a BTCC examination

Does MG’s new EX4 Concept have what it takes to excite an experienced BTCC driver? We ask Daniel Rowbottom

It’s no secret that MG is on a roll at the moment. The Chinese-owned British brand is enjoying record sales in the UK and across Europe thanks to an excellent line-up of family-friendly models, including the MG4, our Affordable Electric Car of the Year.

Yet to really drum up some attention, MG decided to create a special one-off show car for this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Enter the EX4 Concept. To do this, MG took its all-electric MG4 and created a wild homage to one of the wackiest and most memorable rally cars of all time, the iconic Group B MG Metro 6R4.

Making a fitting tribute to what is one of the most beloved, if not successful, rally cars ever was quite a tricky undertaking, especially when using an EV as a base – despite how good the standard car is. That’s why MG asked Northamptonshire-based engineering firm RML – the people behind the SWB, an homage to the Ferrari 250 GTO – to collaborate on the project.

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A few shadowy teaser images whetted our appetite in the days ahead of the big reveal, but when the covers came off, you could almost hear the collective intake of breath from fans of both MG and Group B rallying. The EX4 Concept, as with the MG Metro 6R4 that first appeared in 1985, retains hints of a road car but is totally wild throughout.

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Up front there’s a huge splitter with towering end plates to channel air down the car’s flanks, where you’ll find ultra-wide boxed wheelarches and sill-mounted spats, plus a set of wonderful turbofan-style wheels.

A massive back spoiler doesn’t look out of place, given the other exterior modifications, such as the new rear diffuser. A body finished in white with bright lime green decals is a suitably conspicuous choice, too.

While MG would have drawn plenty of attention by restricting the EX4 Concept to a plinth on its stand, the firm wanted to run it up the famous Goodwood hillclimb, which is where BTCC driver Daniel Rowbottom comes in.

“We turned up at Goodwood on Wednesday [the day before the event],” he says. “I had not seen the car, not even seen the images of it, and it blew me away. I was like, ‘You know what? I can see a one-make series of this and it would look absolutely awesome’.”

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It wasn’t just Rowbottom who was drawn in by the EX4 Concept’s image. “The Cyberster was on the MG stand at Goodwood, which got a lot of attention, but once people were on the MG stand they turned 180 degrees and immediately ran after the EX4,” he adds.

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The EX4 draws from the MG4 XPower road car, with a motor on each axle producing a combined 429bhp to give the MG a 0-62mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds.

“Driving the EX4 was an experience. It was very easy to light all four wheels up pretty much all the way down to turn one, which is always a crowd pleaser. I just love the whole attitude to the car. I think RML did a really good job,” Rowbottom enthuses.

But while the MG Metro 6R4 of the mid-eighties could rely on a throaty 3.0-litre V6 engine to turn heads, the silent EX4 Concept only has visual drama. “It doesn’t quite do the noise justice, but in terms of looks, I think it’s a spectacle,” he adds.

MG might not have any plans to put the EX4 Concept into production, but as a race-winning BTCC driver, Rowbottom knows the car’s motorsport potential. “I really hope that they either do a one-make championship or maybe enter World Rallycross or do something with it,” he says. “I think the car in this context deserves that.”

MG: the past, present and future

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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