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Road tests

New MG4 EV XPower 2023 review

Just a week after its reveal, we get behind the wheel of MG’s electric XPower hot hatch

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

Ultimately, those partial to the sounds and sensations of a petrol hot hatch will find the MG4 XPower lacking in drama. But let that not take away from what an esteemed all-rounder this is; fast, fun and expertly engineered, the hot MG4 is better compared to its new raft of EV rivals than it is to historical big hitters. Buy it because you appreciate the time and effort that have gone into its creation; good as it is, we reckon the just-revealed MG4 Extended Range may still make more sense to most. 

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Only one week after it was officially announced to the world, here we are driving the fastest, most powerful MG ever: the 429bhp MG4 EV XPower. 

It comes off the back of a hugely successful model launch late last year, with commercial director Guy Pigounakis telling us demand for the MG4 Standard and Long Range cars has been “quite simply overwhelming”. The company has sold more than 14,000 MG4s in the UK, with overall brand sales up 58 per cent year on year.

Pigounakis puts much of this success down to MG’s ability to dramatically undercut the competition on price – part of the reason we celebrated the MG4 as our Affordable Electric Car of the Year at the 2023 Auto Express New Car Awards. With the recent introduction of a new 77kWh MG4 Extended Range, the maker claims its family hatchback is the “lowest-priced car in the UK available with a 300-mile range”.

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But enough about the brand. Our positive impressions of the revived MG are well documented both online and here in the magazine. We know it can build affordable, pragmatic family cars, but what about when it wants to emulate its heritage of fast, fun sports cars? The true test will be when we drive the forthcoming two-seat MG Cyberster, but for now it’s the turn of the company’s first EV hot hatch. Using the MG4 as a base is no bad thing; a sharp rear-drive chassis and compliant ride make even the conventional car one of the best in its class to drive.

The XPower turns things up to 11. Visually, it’s distinguishable mostly by its orange brake calipers and 18-inch wheels, but there’s some gloss-black trim and new colourways, as well – including matte Racing Green paint you see here. There’s no aggressive body kit, gaping air intakes or big spoilers, though. 

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Inside, the usual blue stitching is now red, and there are metal pedals for a sportier feel. There’s Alcantara trim on the seats, which does lift things slightly, but there are still some harder plastics to be found in the lower reaches of the cabin.

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The dashboard and steering wheel are covered in softer materials, but some of the switchgear – particularly that below the laggy infotainment screen – appears to be quite cheap. A Cupra Born definitely feels more premium at this price.

The new XPower uses the same 64kWh battery as the existing MG4, but adds a motor to the front axle for a combined 429bhp and 600Nm of torque. There’s an electronic differential, uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, recalibrated steering, bigger brakes and a set of Bridgestone Turanza tyres, too.

The price for all this extra hardware? A fiver under £36,500 – £4k more than the Long Range Trophy and exactly the same price as that aforementioned Extended Range car. You will need to spend nearly £7,000 more on a Smart #1 Brabus to get anything close to this kind of power and performance from an electric family-focused car.

Speaking of power and performance, MG claims the XPower will do 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, and 0-30mph in just 1.7 seconds. It feels rapid, too, even with the traction control nipping away as it fights to transfer that earth-moving energy to the Tarmac. It’s from a rolling start and on normal roads when the MG4 feels fastest; overtaking is a cinch, making this a humble five-seat hatchback that would show a Porsche 911 a clean set of heels from 30-70mph.

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Yet the MG4 XPower has the platform and associated hardware to make it very nearly as entertaining on a British B-road. The ride is noticeably firmer (25 per cent stiffer at the front, 10 per cent at the rear) than the standard car, but the tangible trade-off in comfort is negligible. There’s perhaps a little more road noise, yet it’s not a deal-breaker. Body control is excellent, with very little noticeable roll through fast bends.

The steering is heavier, but doesn’t add feel. The larger, wider wheels and new rubber – in addition to the extra motor on the front axle – definitely make this XPower a more agile, nimble car than its standard sibling, although in normal driving it uses only the rear motor. It can switch to all-wheel drive in 200 milliseconds; as mentioned, you can sometimes feel the safety systems reining things in, but on the whole, traction is good.

Along with the bigger brakes, MG has also introduced a one-pedal drive mode across the MG4 range. As we found when we drove the 577bhp Kia EV6 GT last year, having this level of adjustability – without needing to switch pedals – is surprisingly conducive to faster road driving. It works well in the XPower, although those who favour a conventional braking set-up will find the discs offer plenty of stopping strength. MG says the car can halt from 62mph in 33.9m – an undisclosed enhancement on the normal MG4’s.

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All of these changes do have a detrimental effect on range. We can’t help feeling the XPower would’ve been better suited to the larger 77kWh battery from the Extended Range car – especially given that any weight penalty would be placed so low in the car. Nonetheless, official range stands at 239 miles, and we’d assume in day-to-day driving – if you can avoid too many full-bore standing starts – you’d easily see 200 miles or more from a charge. We managed 3.3 miles per kWh without driving particularly gently.

MG quotes 140kW rapid-charging speeds – making the XPower good for a 10-80 per cent top-up in 35 minutes when using a suitably faster charger. Replenishing the batteries at home via a 7kW wallbox is achievable overnight, and could cost pennies on an off-peak electricity tariff.

Elsewhere, the MG4’s interior packaging is unchanged. The boot is on the small size for a car of this type – a Cupra’s is bigger – but there’s space under the moveable floor to store the charging cables. You’ll fit two adults comfortably in the back, or three at a push, aided by the fact all cars now come with a middle headrest.
 

Model

MG4 EV XPower

Price

£36,495

Powertrain

64kWh battery, 2x e-motors

Power/torque

429bhp/600Nm

Transmission

Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

0-62mph

3.8 seconds

Top speed

124mph

Range

239 miles

Charging

140kW, 10-80% in 35 mins

On sale

Now

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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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