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First drive: 2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.

First drive: 2023 MG4 EV XPower
The MG4 EV has been a hit for the brand, and now itís returning to something approaching its sports-car roots with a go-faster version.

   



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MG4 EV XPower

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Despite building good-value family cars for years, MG's name is still synonymous with sports cars, and now the brand is attempting to mix the best of both worlds with the creation of a new hot hatchback. Based on the electric MG4 EV, a car that has gone down a storm with customers, it's called the XPower and it's a 435hp, all-wheel-drive hot hatch. In fact, it's the only proper electric hot hatch on the market. The question is, is it any good?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 MG4 XPower
Price: From £36,495
Motor: two electric motors (150kW front, 170kW rear)
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 64kWh lithium-ion
Power: 435hp
Torque: 600Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 239 miles
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Boot space: 363 litres

Styling

On the face of it, the XPower version of the MG4 looks much like any other. Outrageous fins, wings and arches are noticeable by their absence, and even MG admits the visual changes are subtle. In fact, there are just a few tweaks to list, with orange brake callipers, new wheels and polished lower door trim accounting for the majority. There's a new paint colour available, too, but the XPower is very difficult to distinguish.

Interior

As with the exterior, changes to the XPower's interior are remarkably restrained. With just some Alcantara upholstery and some metal pedals, it isn't easy to tell the XPower from a conventional MG4 even when you look through the window.

That means you get the same solidly built interior, complete with some tactile plastics at regular touch points and some less impressive materials elsewhere, but what do you expect in a cheap-as -chips hatch? For something so keenly priced, quality is remarkably high.

And the technology is solid, too, even if it's far from exemplary. The touchscreen is quite clear and modern, but it's no match for the systems from the likes of Kia. But alongside budget brands - and a few mainstream ones - it really isn't bad. And it integrates with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone tech very well.

Practicality

Because the XPower cabin is so similar to that of the standard car, the transition to hot hatchback has not come with any practicality penalty. The rear seats are still sufficiently spacious for adults and the 363-litre boot might be a few litres down on the Cupra Born, but it's still competitive. And it stacks up acceptably alongside most other hot hatches, too. However, there's more to practicality than boot space, and the MG has an issue with its phone charging shelf. Although there's a non-slip mat in there, it isn't especially effective, and a little vigorous cornering will send phones flying around the cabin. Not ideal in a hot hatch.

Performance

The real difference between the XPower version of the MG4 and every other product in the range is the powertrain. Like the MG4 EV Long Range, the XPower gets a 64kWh battery pack, but unlike the Long Range, the XPower gets a very different motor system. Instead of the 150kW rear-mounted motor, the XPower gets a 170kW motor on the rear axle, while there's a 150kW motor at the front. That means you get 435hp and 600Nm of torque, split between all four wheels.

That means 0-62mph takes 3.8 seconds, making this sub-£40k hot hatch faster than a Porsche 911. Or at least it is to 62mph. With a top speed of 124mph, the MG wouldn't keep its lead for long, but it would be there or thereabouts for some time. And in the real world, that's more than enough to make overtaking outrageously simple.

Of course, with all that power on board, the XPower doesn't quite have the 270-mile range of the standard Long Range model. But a clever motor system that only engages the front motor when the rear wheels slip or when more power is demanded means range isn't too badly affected. At 239 miles, it's only about 10 per cent down on the Long Range.

Ride & Handling

Ordinarily, hot hatches would be about far more than just straight-line speed, and MG has made some effort to improve on the already impressive MG4 EV with some modifications to the suspension and brakes. But the brand admits it could have gone further, and the differences are intentionally smaller than you expect.

So while the XPower is a little firmer than the standard car, it's still more comfortable than most, with impressive compliance over the majority of bumps. Some sharper potholes will spoil that, but not disastrously so. It's still remarkably smooth, even on our awful asphalt.

Body roll has been reduced slightly, too, and control over all three axes of motion has improved. The XPower doesn't pitch or roll too much, and vertical movement is well judged too. But the steering is still a bit numb and though the brakes are effective, the XPower never feels as assured or as engaging as we'd like.

Part of the problem is the shift to all-wheel-drive power. That's great in bad weather or when getting off the line, but the XPower struggles to replicate the joie de vivre of its siblings. With all the power going to the rear wheels, a standard MG4 will get quite lairs when provoked, but the all-paw 'hot' version, designed to be a little more terrifying, simply washes out as the electronics interfere. It's safe, but a shame. On a track, the XPower would be faster, but the Long Range would be more fun.

Value

MG4 XPower prices start at £36,495, which makes it £10,000 more expensive than the standard car. But that's only part of the story. The MG is significantly cheaper than the most potent Cupra Born and conventional hot hatchbacks such as the VW Golf GTI. In fact, it's one of the cheapest high-performance cars on the market, regardless of powertrain. And it comes with plenty of kit, including a reversing camera, satellite navigation and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration tech. The Alcantara upholstery is standard, too.

Verdict

The MG4 has quite the party trick. But once you've got past the excitement of the performance, there isn't an awful lot here. In fact, we'd go as far as saying that for the really keen drivers, the XPower isn't quite as much fun as the standard car. It might be better on paper, but somehow it's also less exciting. So while it's impressive, the XPower isn't quite the car we were hoping it might be.



James Fossdyke - 13 Jul 2023



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2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.

2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.2023 MG4 EV XPower. Image by Max Earey.








 

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