MG4 XPower Review: Seriously Fast, Excellent VFM, But Not Much Fun

The MG4 XPower aims to turn the humble EV into a bonafide hot hatch. Is it any good?
MG4 XPower Review: Seriously Fast, Excellent VFM, But Not Much Fun


Gut-wrenchingly quick
Lots of performance for the price


But maybe too much performance for its own good
Pitiful range if you want to use any of that power

How exactly we define an electric hot hatch is seemingly up in the air as this new genre is in its infancy. Abarth’s take on the formula is to stick as close to the traditional low power, front-driven formula - albeit to mixed success - while Hyundai is on the complete other end of the scale with the £65,000, 641bhp Ioniq 5 N.

Where I suspect most manufacturers will end up taking their electric hot hatches will be around the same ballpark MG has entered with the 4 XPower. A car that, before getting behind the wheel of, I was rather excited to try.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a lot of time behind the wheel of the base 4 and it’s a car that doesn’t disappoint. I could reel off how it’s well-valued, comes with a lot of kit and a respectable range - but for the purposes of this piece, it’s most important that it’s a really fun car to drive. Which is something nobody ever really expected it to be.

MG4 XPower, rear 3/4
MG4 XPower, rear 3/4

Maybe except MG itself, which boldly announced at the UK media launch of the standard car that it was working away on a dual-motor, 429bhp version of the hatchback. It was a questionable prospect in that particular media briefing, but one that was suddenly tantalising after a drive of the 4.

That car is now here, but you’d have to be a bit of an MG anorak to spot it off the bat. Nothing changes over the Trophy-spec version of the MG4, with the exception of orange XPower branded brake calliper covers (keep that point in mind) and the model-exclusive Racing Green paint on the car we tested.

Not that the MG4 is a bad-looking car, but for something with the performance it offers, I’d really like to have seen some more aggressive changes. A Honda Civic Type R this is not.

MG4 XPower, interior
MG4 XPower, interior

That fact is evident inside, too. Again, there’s no real change - save for the addition of orange stitching in the interior and a bit of Alcantara in the seats. The seats themselves remain the same, which is to say comfy but not supportive enough in a car with this much power. Build quality is good - not quite class-leading - but then this is a car which costs £37,295 with sports car-scaring performance.

Similarly, it’s the same infotainment setup albeit with the inclusion of a track mode app which is functional but about as visually interesting as OKR reporting in an Excel spreadsheet. That’s much the same for the rest of the system, although another markdown for no wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

There’s an argument that a lack of any real changes to the MG4 XPower might give it a sleeper appeal, or simply help to keep its cost down. It’s forgivable on those aspects, but less forgivable is the extent of the mechanical differences.

MG4 XPower, driving
MG4 XPower, driving

According to MG, it has larger brake discs although doesn’t quote a diameter so I can’t confirm for sure how much bigger, some suspension tweaks on the front axle to help manage the weight of the extra motor, the inclusion of an electronic diff and torque vectoring.

That’s all well and good, but the suspension hardware is the same, the orange plastic-covered brake callipers are no different than the single-pot units found on the regular 4 and although the Bridgestone Turanzas are new, they’re no larger at 235/45 R18.

Sure, it’s quick. Frighteningly so with 0-62mph dusted off in 3.8 seconds. That’s great for YouTube drag races or embarrassing BMW M140is at traffic lights, but it soon becomes a bit dull.

MG4 XPower, driving
MG4 XPower, driving

Take it out on the twisty stuff, and the MG4 XPower doesn’t really feel any more hard-edged or involving than the single-motor Trophy on which it's based. You can feel the electronic diff and torque vectoring hard at work to help manage all 429bhp effectively, but the rather wallowy suspension setup leaves the car often feeling unsettled. With the increased speeds plus an extra 115kg courtesy of an additional motor to handle, those brakes soon begin to feel underpowered too.

Once you’ve attempted to have some fun, you’ll have a look down at your battery percentage and regret it all. After a week with the car, I had a figure of 2.7mi/kWh - equating to 167 miles on a charge from its 61.8kWh usable battery. Factor in about 75 per cent of my driving being in range-focused Eco mode, and that’s a pitiful figure.

MG4 - driving
MG4 - driving

The upside of so little fundamentally changing about the MG4 XPower is that it remains just as good as the base car for everyday driving. It’s comfortable enough over typical bumpy UK roads (albeit marginally less so due to more weight over the front), there’s plenty of tech thrown in the package as standard and it’s so easy to manoeuvre around town.

So much so, it’s hard to really recommend when you could keep four grand in your pocket and go for the Trophy Long Range which in the real world is probably more fun to drive, quick enough and will go further on a charge. Better still, spend £36,495 and get a bigger battery while you’re at it.

If the MG4 XPower is the template for the future of the electric hot hatch, let’s hope someone can make it more special. Quick is good, but fun is even better.


No comments found.


Sponsored Posts