You probably know the MG brand for its budget-priced cars and SUVs, but it’s about to drop a global game-changer later this year and it’s called the MG 4 XPower.
That’s not to say the current crop of MGs are in any way less handsome or lacking features of similarly-priced rivals offer, because even the dirt-cheap MG 3 hatch and latest iteration of its HS SUV look respectively decent on road with plenty of sales volume to boot.
But MG Motor, which is owned by the huge SAIC Motor Corporation of China, has significantly higher aspirations for this storied British marque, which back in the day was a big thing in sports cars – remembering MG is a brand that celebrates 100 years in 2023.
And, just to give you some scale on the world stage, it’s the seventh-largest car manufacturer in the world (here and now) and the largest in China. It’s also a Fortune Global 100 company, ranked 60th, and has some long-held joint ventures with Volkswagen and General Motors in SAIC Volkswagen and SAIC-GM, respectively.
It’s a seriously large automotive conglomerate with significant resources, truckloads of technological knowhow and a manufacturer that currently builds more than 5.3 million cars a year. It’s also a relatively fast-moving organisation that seems intent on shaking up the global car market if our week in Shanghai is anything to go by.
Take the stylish MG 4 all-electric hatch, which has already launched in key markets like the UK and the greater European continent to much applause by media and new-car buyers alike.
It’s due to hit MG showrooms in Australia from the third quarter of this year, with thousands of deposits already held across four different variants, three different battery capacities, yet still universally affordable with pricing set from $38,990 for the baseline MG 4 Excite – making it one of Australia’s cheapest electric vehicles.
Unlike MG’s current range of vehicles sold here which are built using combustion-engined architectures, the MG 4 uses MG’s dedicated EV platform called ‘Modular Scalable Platform’, which features rear-wheel drive and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
Needless to say, the MG 4 XPower is different. It’s a dual-motor, all-wheel drive EV rocket ship producing 320kW and a stonking 600Nm. It’s capable of blitzing the 0-100km/h sprint in a supercar-nudging 3.8 seconds thanks to a dedicated launch control feature.
However, there’s not a lot going on with the styling to tell it apart from the standard MG 4, at least from the outside, other than some very obvious Volcano Orange brake calipers, as well as a unique 18-inch dual-colour alloy wheel design.
There’s also ‘Silver Decoration Kits’ available which include accents for the front bumper splitter, side skirts and rear bumper diffuser, but given we were driving pre-production models at SAIC’s proving ground in Shanghai, it’s too early to know if the same will be available on Australian-delivered cars – though, we’d assume so.
Interestingly, the MG 4 XPower also gets a bespoke colour, called Hunter Green Satin – inspired by the Stirling Moss-driven MG EX181 which broke the Class F Land Speed Record in 1957 at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats, clocking a top speed of 395km/h.
Underneath the skin, though, there are a few key upgrades. The suspension system gets recalibrated springs and dampers which are 25 per cent stiffer than those in the standard MG 4. There are stiffer anti-roll bars too, more responsive steering and torque vectoring software that talks to a locking electronic differential to manage the torque at each wheel.
Even the MG 4’s XPower’s regenerative braking system has been recalibrated for true one-pedal driving, notwithstanding the substantially larger and more powerful braking system fitted – 345mm/340mm versus 300mm/300mm for the standard MG 4.
Inside, it’s just as subtle, bar a few upgrades like Alcantara sports seats with electric adjustment, sports pedals and exclusive contrast red stitching. We’d like to suggest XPower embroidery on the front seat headrests that would seem appropriate for this hi-po version.
While MG Motor Australia has already confirmed pricing for its standard 2023 MG 4 range, which kicks off with the MG 4 Excite from $38,990 using a smaller 51kWh battery and tops out with the MG 4 Essence variant with 77kWh battery from $55,990, there’s still no word on what the range-topping MG 4 XPower might be priced from.
However, in the UK, MG has already announced pricing for MG 4 XPower at £36,495, which converts to just under A$70,000.
Nevertheless, given MG’s continued ‘value-for-money’ ethos, we’d sure like pricing in Australia to sit well under the $70k mark drive-away.
The core MG 4 range is due to launch in Australia in Q3 2023, with the XPower to follow later in the year.
2023 MG 4 pricing:
- 2023 MG 4 Excite (51kWh): $38,990
- 2023 MG 4 Excite (64kWh): $44,990
- 2023 MG 4 Essence (64kWh): $47,990
- 2023 MG 4 Essence (77kWh): $55,990
- 2023 MG 4 XPower (64kWh): $TBC
Prices are before on-road costs
MORE: MG 4 price and specs
Even in the base-spec MG 4 Excite, there’s nothing cheap and cheerful about the cabin, in fact, it heralds a far more polished, if not, minimalistic design from MG, with all the latest tech you’re likely to need in your daily EV.
Nevertheless, the MG 4 XPower takes it up a notch or two, with some nicely bolstered Alcantara/leather-look sports seats. These are comfortable pews with contrast red stitching that would seem to cater for all shapes and body sizes.
The soft Alcantara also extends to sections of the door cards, while the flat-bottomed leather steering wheel is pleasantly tactile and feels good to the touch.
Interestingly, there’s a centre wheel marker in black, but instead of its usual top-mounted position, it’s at the bottom for some unknown reason.
The dashboard layout itself is wonderfully neat and tidy, using what look and feel like quality materials with a solid fit and finish, including the brightwork. It’s tasteful, if not, semi-premium.
The highlights, though, are the two high-definition screens that feature across the entire MG 4 range. There’s a large infotainment touchscreen front and centre with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make life easier for those with smartphones.
Below it, are a row of shortcut buttons providing quick access to the likes of audio volume, home screen and windscreen functions.
There’s a smaller screen for the digital instrument display – again with plenty of colour, clarity and information on hand for the driver. Menus are accessed through flattened joystick controllers each side of the steering wheel, along with a few more shortcut buttons for added convenience.
The centre console is a stylish, floating type that simply houses a rotary drive selector, electric park brake and a wireless phone-charging pad – and that’s it. Completely and utterly fool-proof for those entering EV ownership for the first time.
Ergonomics have been well thought out here with all controls in easy reach, along with sufficient adjustability all-round.
There are three seatbelts in the second row, but there’s only two genuine seats back there and no centre armrest, but even those pews are suitably bolstered for better backseat comfort.
You also get proper enclosed seat pockets, as well as dual phone holders on the back of each front seat.
Storage space is plentiful, too, with oodles of cubby holes and an open-style compartment under the console bridge itself as well as the centre-console bin, which is reasonably sized.
There’s also adequately-sized bottle holders in the door pockets, two cupholders (front only), and a reasonably-sized boot of 363 litre capacity – expanding to 1165 with the rear seats folded.
It’s not benchmark but the MG 4 feels spacious enough despite its diminutive proportions, thanks to its flat, ‘One-Pack’ battery design, which MG claims is a benchmark 110mm thick.
While you might expect MG’s most powerful 77kWh to be providing the juice for the marque’s fastest-ever production car, the MG 4 XPower makes do with the mid-tier 64kWh battery pack, but in concert with two electric motors generating 150kW up front and 170kW down back.
Combined outputs of 320kW of power and 600Nm of torque to all four wheels allow it to launch from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 3.8 seconds, thereby equalling Audi’s celebrated RS3 Sportback and pipping the mega-quick Mercedes-AMG A45 S – two of the fastest petrol-powered hot hatches on the planet.
While we drove a pre-production model in China, Australian-delivered models will get a dedicated launch-control function in order to hit the XPower’s big acceleration claims.
Additionally, there’s also a Track mode accessed via the shortcut menu, providing; Track mode interface, vehicle performance data and data analysis including lap mode and stage modes.
Estimated charge time using single-phase power with 6.6kW is 9.0 hours, while going from 10 per cent to 80 per cent using a 50kW fast charger takes 60 minutes. Using the maximum capacity 150kW charger, the MG 4 XPower will reach an 80 per cent charge in 26 minutes.
Like the entire MG 4 range, the XPower also features V2L capability, allowing owners to power things like laptops, fridge and BBQ, using 220V and a max output of 3.3kW.
With all that power, range is reduced to 385km (WLTP) on the MG 4 XPower, whereas the Excite with the same 64kW battery achieves a maximum range of 450km (WLTP).
With just one pre-production tester between several journalists, and SAIC’s own in-house proving ground in Shanghai serving as the test facility for our first drive of the MG 4 XPower, time behind the wheel was a limited, so we headed straight for the high-speed circuit to try launch control.
Ordinarily on production-spec cars the driver will simply have to flatten both the throttle and brake pedal simultaneously, before releasing the brake pedal to initiate the launch control feature, which wasn’t possible on our tester – so, we just improvised.
Suffice to say, it’s quick – bloody quick. But without the use of a VBox or any other speed-measuring equipment afforded us at the high-security site, it otherwise passed the shades test with flying colours – that is, under full throttle, my aviators flew off my head before smashing into the rear screen and with a good deal of force.
Still, further and more thorough performance testing will need to be conducted by Paul Maric and his technical team at our usual Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria, where properly-measured acceleration tests on MG 4 XPower under controlled conditions will deliver accurate data.
Nevertheless, armed with dual motors, all-wheel drive and 600Nm of torque, we got no wheelspin, slippage or hesitation. It’s just boom and you’re gone – albeit with a little queasiness in your belly.
On the longer straightaways we very rapidly hit 169km/h, with still plenty of travel left under the throttle pedal, so we have little reason to doubt the MG 4’s top speed claim of 200km/h at this point.
Fitted with upgraded suspension, sharper steering and bigger brakes, we were keen to put XPower through some high-speed bends to see how the uprated chassis handled the loads.
Interestingly, our tester was fitted with Bridgestone Turanza tyres (235/45) with its Enliten technology. Effectively, it’s lightweight Eco tyre with reduced rolling resistance but also designed for improved handling. We would have thought Bridgestone’s performance-skewed Potenza range of tyres might have been more of a match for MG 4 XPower .
While we were somewhat restrained in our high-speed testing, it was sufficient enough to sound out the steering feel and chassis balance. Both aspects were solid without being exceptional.
Feedback is reasonable and steering weight and linearity is comfortably sporty if not quick, but it’s not as sharp as we might have expected of a small hatch capable of unleashing this kind firepower.
Mind, at 1800kg the MG 4 XPower isn’t exactly a lightweight either, and despite its claim of 50:50 weight distribution, you could certainly feel that heft on turn-in and while leaning on it at the apex. Again, we might have expected a little more front-end accuracy on turn-in.
We’d like to try it on a set of Potenzas all the same, at least as a comparison to see if it might enhance the steering feedback on corner entry and mid-corner composure under high load.
Don’t get me wrong, we pushed hard in the bends and the car behaved well and was suitably settled, but it also didn’t give you that fun-to-drive feeling either, which we all crave in a hot hatch with this much poke.
Suspension compliance over bumps is another area the conditions didn’t allow for testing, though the MG 4 XPower showed tight body control though the faster bends at the proving ground – though more through testing in local conditions will likely reveal more conclusive impressions.
In all fairness though, the test conditions were absolutely not conducive to getting the best out of the car – remembering this was a pre-production example we drove, albeit unfinished if you like.
Stay tuned then for a more substantial drive on local roads when the XPower finally lands.
MG 4 Excite highlights:
- One pedal functionality
- V2L (Vehicle-to-Load)
- Full LED lighting
- Four-mode regenerative braking
- Five-link independent rear suspension
- 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Keyless entry and start
- Automatic stop and start
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wired)
- Four-speaker sound system
- Black fabric upholstery
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Automatic high-beam
- Electric side mirrors with heating functionality
- 6-way manual adjustable driver seat
- MG Pilot
- iSmart Lite connectivity
MG 4 Essence adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Black roof
- Twin-aero rear spoiler
- Rear light bar
- iSmart connectivity
- 6-speaker sound system
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless phone charger
- Synthetic leather/cloth upholstery
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Height-adjustable load floor
- EV trip planner
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- 360 degree view camera
- Two-tone roof
- Active grille shutters
- Electric folding mirrors
- Dual-level boot floor
- Rear privacy glass
MG 4 XPower adds:
- Launch Control
- Track Mode Display
- Alcantara Black interior
- Alcantara seats
- Sports pedals
- Performance Sports Caliper
- Unique 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheel
- Dover White
- Brixton Blue
- Black Pearl metallic
- Camden Grey metallic
- Dynamic Red tri-coat
- Volcano Orange tri-coat
- Sterling Silver
- Hunter Green satin (XPower)
The MG 4 has yet to be tested by ANCAP, however its sister authority Euro NCAP gave it a five-star rating in 2022.
This was based on an adult occupant protection rating of 83 per cent, a child occupant protection rating of 80 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection rating of 75 per cent, and a safety assist rating of 78 per cent.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control
- Driver attention monitoring
- Intelligent speed limit assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Traffic Jam Assist
- Traffic sign recognition
MG 4 Essence adds:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Safe exit warning
- Surround-view camera
All MG 4 models are backed by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Service pricing for the MG 4 range is still to be announced.
Much will depend on the finished production car and local price point against any perceived competition including the Tesla Model 3.
Nevertheless, the MG 4 XPower has the makings of a global game changer given its ballistic performance, cool design language as well as its generous equipment and safety levels.
If MG Motor Australia gets the pricing right, then the only issue is going to be supply, given the MG 4 XPower could well end up billed as the cheapest supercar on the planet.
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MORE: Everything MG 4