MG has been one of the fastest growing brands in the Australian market in the past five years, carving a spot for itself amongst the best-selling names.
But now it’s about to take on arguably its toughest challenge yet - selling a performance car.
MG’s success until now has been built largely on value, with its affordable MG3 and ZSSUV leading the way. The arrival of the all-new, all-electricMG4 XPower means the brand will try its luck at selling cars based on performance, dynamics and an emotional connection.
It’s not the first electric hot hatch in Australia, that distinction arguably belongs to the Cupra Born. But, MG has achieved much higher sales locally than Cupra, making it the first electric hot hatch from a mainstream brand, and that’s why it has the potential to be a game changer for the market.
This price is subject to change closer to release data
Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
While we’ll dive into performance and the headline figures of the XPower soon, there’s another number that’s arguably more impressive - the price.
The MG4 XPower is priced from $59,990 (plus on-road costs), making it only $4000 more expensive than the range-topping MG4 Essence 77.
More importantly, when compared to the likes of the $72,600 Honda Civic Type R, $68,990 Volkswagen Golf R, $64,190 Toyota GR Corolla and $57,990 Subaru WRX tS Sport the XPower is arguably one of the first EVs to achieve true price parity with its internal combustion engine rivals (although the Cupra Born starts at $59,990 so it can argue the same).
Beyond the performance upgrades we’ll detail below, that price brings a well-equipped car.
The MG4 XPower is priced from $59,990 (plus on-road costs). (Image: Dean McCartney)
There’s the 'MG Pilot' safety package included as standard as well, but we’ll detail that below.
The 'Hunter Green' hero paint colour is exclusive to the XPower in the MG4 range, and is reportedly inspired by an MG land speed record car the legendary Sir Stirling Moss drove in the 1950s.
The XPower's seats are clad in synthetic leather and Alcantara trim. (Image: Dean McCartney)
Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?
What really stands out about the design is… that not much stands out about the design. At least in differentiating the XPower from the rest of the MG4 line-up.
There are no pumped out wheel arches or a bigger, sportier spoiler that makes it look different in the same way a GR Corolla won’t be mistaken for a regular Corolla hatch.
Instead, the XPower has the same 'Energetic Agile' silhouette and includes the same ‘Active Intake spoiler’ at the front and the ‘Twin-Aero’ rear spoiler that’s the same as the Essence models.
Surprisingly, there is very little to signify that this is the sportiest XPower model. (Image: Dean McCartney)
There are some differences though, including more pronounced styling on the sides of the doors. It doesn’t add any performance benefit but creates a slight visual difference between the models in the range.
Surprisingly, there is very little to signify that this is the sportiest XPower model, with a distinct lack of badging - inside and out. In fact, the only visual clue that this is the XPower is on the bright orange brake calipers. Or, to be more accurate, brake caliper covers.
These are just lightweight metal covers that make the MG4 braking hardware look bigger than it really is, so it’s a bit of visual trickery from the MG designers.
The only visual clue that this is the XPower is on the bright orange brake calipers. (Image: Dean McCartney)
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
As with the exterior, there’s not a lot to differentiate the XPower from the rest of the line-up. No bright red Civic Type R style interior treatment here. MG has opted to carry over the minimalist design that no doubt contributes to the sharp pricing.
Probably the only notable difference is the seat trim, with the XPower model getting a combination of synthetic leather and suede for a sportier look and feel. But the rest is largely the same, which detracts slightly from its hot hatch credentials.
On the plus side, the MG4 cabin is generally a well-designed interior space, which is a positive for the XPower’s hot hatch argument, as the idea behind the ‘hot hatch’ is that it can be a practical car during the week and fun on the weekends.
The XPower model gets a combination of synthetic leather and suede for a sportier look and feel. (Image: Dean McCartney)
There’s good room for passengers and luggage, in large part thanks to the relatively slim battery design that frees up more cabin space. Front seat occupants will enjoy the space and good visibility on offer.
Small item storage is very good in the MG4, with a pair of cupholders, a large, flat lidded tray (with one USB-C and one USB-A outlet just above) and the centre console box all fitting between the front seats.
There’s also a wireless smartphone charging pad that sits halfway up the centre fascia, next to the rotary gear selector, but it’s a shallow space so your phone will almost certainly fly out as soon as you begin cornering vigorously.
Back seat space is adequate for a small hatch. (Image: Dean McCartney)
However, once again highlighting the ways MG has saved money to keep costs down, the back seat accommodation isn’t anywhere near as well appointed.
While the space is adequate for a small hatch, there are no cupholders, no air-conditioning vents and no fold down armrest for those in the back. All they have access to are some pockets on the back of the front seats, including a pair of small ones high on the seat, seemingly designed to accommodate your smartphone.
In another positive for its hot hatch practicality, there are ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats, neatly covered by leather pieces for a cleaner look when you don’t have kids.
The XPower has 363 litres of boot capacity. (Image: Dean McCartney)
As for the boot, the XPower measures the same 363 litres with the seats up which is unchanged from the rest of the MG4 line-up.
Disappointingly, there’s no obvious place to stow the charging cable, even though it comes in a small, neat bag. This is a worryingly common trend with these early generation EVs that shows a lack of practical thinking from the designers.
The MG4 has no under-bonnet storage either, so it feels like a few wasted opportunities for what is a bespoke EV design.
Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its motor?
This is arguably the biggest single difference between the XPower and the rest of the MG4 line-up. Unlike the others that have a single, rear-mounted electric motor, the XPower adds a second motor on the front axle.
This has an obvious impact on the performance, boosting it from the previous best of 180kW to an impressive 320kW/600Nm.
Having motors on each axle also means the XPower is all-wheel drive, so it has little trouble transferring all that grunt to the road.
So much so that the MG4 XPower is the equal quickest hot hatch on the market (at the time of publication), taking just 3.8 seconds to run 0-100km/h; matching the Audi RS3, with its turbocharged five-cylinder engine.
The XPower adds a second motor on the front axle, boosting performance outputs to 320kW/600Nm. (Image: Dean McCartney)
Efficiency – What is its driving range? What is its charging time?
Interestingly, the XPower is not fitted with the biggest battery in the MG4 range, forgoing the 77kWh version in favour of the 64kWh option.
While that’s well short of the 530km offered by the long-range Essence 77 model, it’s still a respectable amount of driving range and should suit your typical hot hatch buyer, who knows performance typically comes at the expense of efficiency.
Our test drive was limited to just two days, so we didn't have the chance to live with the XPower for an extended period, but it managed to make it this reviewer’s preferred hot hatch playground on the edge of the city and back again to home with more than 50 per cent of the battery charge remaining.
Across almost seven hours of driving, the MG’s trip computer was claiming an average energy use of 18.6kWh/100km. (Image: Dean McCartney)
This was a trip that included a lot of urban driving, some highway and then some ‘spirited’ running on the twisty road, so there’s enough range from the XPower to meet most buyers' needs.
Across almost seven hours of driving, the MG’s trip computer was claiming an average energy use of 18.6kWh/100km. To replenish the batteries, a 140kW DC charger will take just 30 minutes to take them from 10 to 80 per cent.
The V2L is another nice addition, which allows you to draw power from the battery, if needed, to run small electrical appliances.
The XPower is hardly a car for camping but, for example, if you decided to take it to a track day and want to plug in a kettle to make a hot drink, you can literally plug it into the car. Handy!
Driving – What's it like to drive?
The real question about the XPower is not if it’s quick, because all EVs and especially those with dual motors tend to be very rapid in a straight line, but how it handles itself on a twisty road.
That’s what separates a good hot hatch from a great one, but it’s also an area EVs have struggled in, because the combination of silence, weight and just the fact they’re new and different tends to mean they lack the driving engagement of more established competition.
Hot hatches also need to play a dual role, as daily transport and weekend fun machine, so that’s another factor to consider.
The MG4's steering gets heavier in Sport mode. (Image: Dean McCartney)
So, how does the MG4 XPower stack up? Well, the unsurprising news is it’s very, very quick. The acceleration is ferocious and really shoves you back in your seat, leaving you in no doubt that it will leave most of its hot hatch rivals (with the exception of the Audi RS3) in its dust.
When the going gets twisty though the XPower feels like it lets its rivals catch back up. There are different driving modes and switching to ‘Sport’ and reducing the regenerative braking makes a notable difference to the way the XPower handles.
The steering gets heavier and it will roll and coast into corners more like a petrol-powered hatch. It makes for a very competent car, with direct steering and good road holding… but not a great hot hatch.
The MG4 has quiet, effortless commuting potential thanks to its electric powertrain. (Image: Dean McCartney)
It lacks the engagement and excitement that the best hot hatches offer. For example, the steering gets heavier in Sport mode, but doesn’t provide any more feedback to the driver. The Bridgestone Turanza tyres do a fine job but they lack the grip of a Michelin Pilot Sport.
The lasting impression on the driver is a car that feels quick but doesn’t leave you wanting more. The best hot hatches make you want to keep on driving and driving, that’s not the case in the XPower.
As a daily driver it’s arguably better than its rivals, though, with quiet, effortless commuting potential thanks to its electric powertrain.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
There’s the usual passive safety features, including six airbags as well as the required stability controls, anti-lock brakes and the like, however the XPower also comes equipped with the MG Pilot suite of active safety features as standard.
The MG4 was a game changing electric car, resetting the price benchmark while also being a very good small car in its own right. But as we discovered when we tested the rest of the range, the MG4 is a car that gets more compelling the cheaper it is. The $38,990 MG4 Excite 51 is arguably the pick of the range given its value equation.
But that’s not to say the MG4 XPower isn’t a good car. It’s a very quick car that will play the role of daily driver and weekend fun machine well. Just not quite as well as its petrol-powered rivals.
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