The 2024 MG4 XPower has made a splash that performance vehicle lovers shouldn’t ignore. Boasting prodigious straight-line speed, a svelte and comfortable interior and impressive driving dynamics, it just may challenge what many think characterises a hot hatch.
Yes, as a rusted-on, late-adopter petrol head, this writer did just say that. It’s a big call, but MG Motor have delivered. Ever since we watched them take one to Sydney Dragway, and propel this EV down the quarter mile in a near-flat 12 seconds, it’s been on our hit list.
It’s a looker too. We’d be lying if we didn’t see influences in design from the likes of Toyota at the rear – but the front end is thankfully unique. Forward of the A-pillar, the bonnet line is quite short and curves downward, with two angry-bee looking front LED headlamps.
Aft of the pillars is a far more traditional design and, in the cost optional satin-finish Hunter Green Premium, is pretty easy on the eye. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are seven other colours to choose from.
A visual highlight for us was the unusual treatment atop the rear hatch. It looks like two spoilers that sit above a sloping rear glasshouse, and we wonder if the design drives aero benefits.
The 18-inch wheels struggle to hide monstrous orange MG-logo emblazoned callipers – which were in fact found to be metal covers. Not a deal breaker, but it would’ve been nice to know they were real.
We were thankful that the gear underneath, along with the regenerative braking, was up to the task. Contact with terra-firma is handled by a square set of 235/45 Bridgestone Turanza T005 EV rubber.
It’s an interesting choice given the many performance focussed options in the Bridgestone range. One thing is certain, they always had their work cut out for them – especially when driving in anger.
Stepping inside unveils an interior space that elegantly combines both form and function. For front seat occupants, the space is dominated by the floating centre console which houses a rotary dial for gear selection and an electronic handbrake.
Some will find that the left knee will either rest comfortably against it or be an annoyance. The driver’s seating position is surprisingly good. Electric heated leather and Alcantara covered seats offer just enough bolstering to back the sporting pretentions.
Importantly, they have enough adjustment to feel like you’re sitting in the cabin, not on it. The electrically adjustable steering wheel seemed way too large initially and felt like it was floating in thin air given the spartan dash as a backdrop.
This was punctuated by the small 7-inch screen that is the instrument binnacle. The awkwardness subsided once we realised that in concert with the seating, it became a very comfortable driving position.
Central controls are performed through a 10.25-inch touchscreen. Like the MG5, button ware is sparse. As such, the same issues we found with the HVAC controls and frustrations digging into menus for simple things were replicated here.
On two occasions when the entire unit froze – necessitating a stop and complete vehicle restart. It really was a downer in an otherwise great cabin. Thankfully, there is a large wireless charger and two USB ports to connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Entertainment is handled by an average 6-speaker stereo which really isn’t befitting of the MG4 XPower. Rear accommodations belie the size, with enough room in the car for four adults to travel comfortably, and use their own charging port.
The stitched leather mobile phone holders in the back of the front seats are a nice touch. We can’t believe it hadn’t been thought of before. That said, we would’ve traded them for a rear air conditioning vent.
Completing the interior is a 363-litre boot which can expand out to 1,117-litres with the 60:40 rear seats folded flat. Interior goodness aside, what makes this car a bona-fide hotch hatch is what sits under the bonnet. Well, and above the rear axle.
Two individual electric motors power the front (150kW) and rear axles (170kW), and in combination deliver an AWD drivetrain. Maximum outputs are 320kW of power and 600Nm of torque.
For reference, it wasn’t that long ago that a flagship HSV would be praised for achieving these numbers. Far from simply figures on a page, these outputs propel this 1,800kg vehicle to 100km/h in a staggering 3.8 seconds.
As mentioned before, its performance will see you cross the 1320-metre mark in a whisker over 12 seconds. You can feel every bit of the drama too; on launch control the rear dips and the front tyres lose traction even from a standstill in a straight line.
For context – that is 0.8 seconds faster to 100km/h than the nearest comparably priced hot hatch, the Golf R ($69,000). It is only matched by Australia’s fastest hot hatch, the Audi RS3, which retails for more than $90,000.
In fact, the XPower will embarrass a base model Porsche 911 Carrera, which retails at over four times its $59,990 plus on-roads sticker price. It’s not a one trick pony either. It will attack corners with the same ferocity.
The torque vectoring AWD works hard to keep things together and the brakes pull it up well, but there is an unfortunate benign feel to the steering. We won’t go as far as to call it wooden, but there simply isn’t enough communication coming back up the column.
It’s a dampener for what is a surprisingly sweet chassis. It sits flat, owing to an upgraded suspension setup that provides a 25 per cent increase in stiffness over the MG4 Excite. Ham fistedness results in characteristic and expected understeer.
A slower entry is complemented with ferocious exits – it really is a lot of fun despite the lack of soundtrack. A bonus is Track Mode, with data logging, providing you with lap timing functionality as well as other telemetry like G forces during your time on track.
Despite all this high-speed capability, the MG4 XPower is just as easy to potter around in. These is a little more road noise that one would like, but it will otherwise provide you with a realistic 400-ish kilometres of range, and take you there in complete comfort.
You will get there safely too, with all the requisite features on board including six airbags, lane keep assist, a 360-degree camera, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
After a few rocky years, MG Motor Australia have a new groove. The MG4 isn’t perfect, but it’s far easier to fix issues than it is to build a car that’s fun to steer. Doing that takes a brand that intends to provide options for those who love driving.
And that’s something that has waned for way too long. You can find out more on the MG Motor Australia website, or by talking to your local dealership. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by MG Motor Australia for review purposes.