New MG Cyberster 2023 review
The new all-electric MG Cyberster more than delivers on the hype
The long-awaited MG roadster is back and more than delivers on the hype. Stunningly styled and daring in more ways than one, it manages to stay true to the brand’s original ethos but in a package that’s befitting of the 21st century. The Cyberster puts MG back where it belongs.
It’s been 12 years since MG pulled the cord on the ageing TF, leaving one of Britain’s most famous sports car makers without a genuine halo model. The return has been long-awaited, and while the new Cyberster shares the same two-door roadster concept as the TF, it’s a distinctly different animal.
But acknowledging how fast the Chinese are working, only a matter of days after we first hitched a ride in the new Cyberster on UK roads, the first customer cars are being rolled out back in China. Desperate to see if our first impressions ring true, we’re among the first to try the car from the driver’s seat.
Tipping the scales at 1,920kg in dual-motor form, the Cyberster is almost an original MGB heavier than the TF, and considerably larger to boot. But then it’s more than three times as powerful and more than twice as quick off the mark thanks to its fully-electric drivetrain.
Even in single-motor form, which we drove on the tropical island of Hainan in China, the Cyberster offers a Porsche 718 Boxster-toppling 0-62mph sprint of just 4.6 seconds, which all but confirms that the Mazda MX-5 is no longer in MG’s crosshairs – its maker is aiming much higher, with the forthcoming Porsche EV in its sights.
To compete, MG, which is far better known in recent times for its budget family cars, has spared no expense when it comes to the Cyberster’s dynamics. Hiring legendary Formula One chassis tuner Marco Fainello, an ever-present in Michael Schumacher’s all-conquering Ferrari years, to sort the Cyberster’s dynamics appears to have been a masterstroke.
Defying its near-two-tonne kerbweight, the Cyberster feels immediately fleet-footed and far lighter on its toes than should reasonably be expected, allaying any concerns that Chinese ownership may have dulled MG’s ability to make truly sporty cars.
Quick changes of direction find the Cyberster reassuringly poised and predictable, leading us to expect that given the freedom of a race track, the svelte roadster would offer the kind of on-the-limit adjustability that an enthusiast’s dreams are made of. The steering manages to tread a fine balance between feelsome and easy to operate, with adjustability available in the settings if you want to add more heft.
Even in torrential rain, the Cyberster never felt at risk of putting a foot wrong, managing to contain all that power over the rear axle even under heavy acceleration away from wet junctions or traffic lights. Thankfully, too, the fabric roof proved far more watertight than many a TF owner ever enjoyed in the most testing of conditions. UK owners will be pleased to know the roof operation takes only 10 seconds and can be completed up to 32mph.
Performance was equally impressive with the top down, with the MG boasting a remarkably pliant ride and rigid structure throughout – something we were keen to test given our experiences alongside MG UK’s head of engineering Steve Garside only recently. Choppy surfaces were dealt with in total comfort with only large potholes producing anything resembling scuttle shake – this despite the Cyberster sporting a pair of dramatic scissor doors in addition to the foldable roof.
The scissor doors are just one part of an unquestionably daring design that sees MG take several leaps forward in terms of perceived quality and dynamism, something that becomes more apparent as you step into the low but surprisingly spacious cabin.
As in any good sports car, the Cyberster places an immediate focus on the driver with all controls directed to one side of the car, but as we found during our passenger ride – while you may expect a stripped-out interior, the reality is far from it.
MG has managed to squeeze four separate screens into the cockpit-like set-up, with three curved around the back of the steering wheel and a fourth on the centre console. All are fairly small bar the main driving display, which makes operating them a little fiddly, but they are at least quick courtesy of the system’s punchy processor.
Both the two outer screens and the centre console screen are difficult to see, the former due to being sited behind the wheel, and the latter because of glare with the roof down. Operating them takes some getting used to, as well. Those outer screens are perhaps best when using the 360-degree camera, which enables views of both front and rear wheels.
The cabin itself, decked out in Nappa leather and microfibre lining, feels a world apart from other MGs, and with the roof up is a quiet place to be – even if you’ll want to leave it down in all but the worst weather. There’s also ample storage in a variety of cubbies and behind the seats. Our only gripe was a lack of tilt adjustment on the base cushion that would improve the driving position.
But overall the Cyberster is a car you’ll love for the way it drives, and right now it’s pretty much the only electric roadster on the radar. It’s a sizeable step up for MG in terms of expected price, but on this evidence it feels worth every penny.
|Powertrain:||77kWh battery, 1x e-motor|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
|Size (L/W/H):||4,533mm / 1912mm / 1328mm|
|On sale:||Summer 2024|