MG 4 XPower (2024) review
MG adds an extra motor and lots of horsepower to create a four-wheel-drive hot-hatch out of the all-electric MG4.
Neil Briscoe
Neil Briscoe
Pics by Shane O' Donoghue

Published on April 2, 2024

MG4 XPower overview

MG, since its re-invention under Chinese ownership (it has been part of the vast Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation since the brand was bought out from under the smouldering wreckage of the MG-Rover Group in 2005) and its re-introduction to the Irish market has been focused pretty tightly on providing affordable hybrid and electric models. The likes of the hybrid HS and electric ZS crossovers have gone down well with the Irish buying public, while the electric MG 5 estate is now a common sight on Irish taxi ranks, thanks to its sharp pricing and useful load space. Meanwhile, the MG4 hatchback - with its almost Lamborghini-like styling and (for the moment) sub-€30,000 price tag - has unsurprisingly hit a nerve with budget-conscious buyers and has marched right on up the electric car sales charts.

Which is great if you're after a value-oriented EV or hybrid, but what if you want an actual MG, a car befitting the sports car origins of the Morris Garages brand, especially now that it's celebrating its centenary? Well, MG will later this year launch the gorgeous new Cyberster all-electric two-seat sports car, but to keep our sporting appetites whetted in the meantime, there's this, the MG4 XPower, with its four-wheel drive and AMG-like power output. Can it rekindle the sporting fires within the MG brand? And is it the first true electric hot hatch?

The MG4 model range

The MG4 lineup in Ireland is split in two by battery capacity. There's a basic 51kWh battery (that's the useable capacity) with an official 350km range which you can have in either basic Excite spec, or you can upgrade that Excite model to a 61.7kWh (useable) battery capacity which has a 450km range.

Excite trim includes MG Pilot safety equipment (a bundle which covers adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, active emergency braking, lane-keeping steering and traffic jam assistance), a 10.25-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, a seven-inch digital driver's instrument panel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the iSmart phone app that allows you to control aspects of the car from your phone, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, adjustable regenerative braking and vehicle-to-load charging.

Irish prices at the time of writing are very sharp. MG currently has a special price of €29,995 for the 51kWh Excite, which can be further trimmed to €25,595 with the 'Eco-Boost Bonus'. The Excite Long Range is listed at €33,495 with a discounted Eco-Boost Bonus price of €29,495.

Next up is the Exclusive Long Range model, which adds 18-inch alloys, a split rear spoiler at the back, navigation, wireless phone charging, heated front seats with synthetic leather trim and a 360-degree parking camera system. This one retails for €36,995, but that's discounted to €32,995 with the Eco-Boost Bonus. Exclusive models come only with the bigger 61.7kWh battery.

There is the option, in some markets, of an even longer-range model using a 74kWh battery, which gives the MG4 a range of 520km, but this version hasn't yet been introduced to the Irish market.

Finally, there's our test car - the MG4 XPower, which costs €42,995, comes with an extra electric motor - driving the front wheels - which more than doubles the peak power from the standard 204hp to 435hp. It also gets unique 18-inch alloy wheels, bright orange brake calipers (which are actually just bright orange covers which clip onto the regular calipers), a special Track driving mode, launch control and the option of a unique colour, Racing Green Matte, the colour of our test car. It comes with the 61.7kWh battery and has an official range of 385km.

With its generous standard safety equipment, it's little surprise that the MG4 has been given a full five stars by Euro NCAP, with an 83 per cent score for adult occupant protection, 80 per cent for child occupants and 75 per cent for vulnerable road users.

At the time of writing, MG Ireland has a special finance offer in place for the MG4, offering zero per cent interest and repayments as low as €39 per week.

The MG4 XPower interior

The MG4 XPower gets another big upgrade over the standard versions in the cabin, and that's the Alcantara-and-leather seats, which are very comfortable, and which allow you to sit lower in the car than you might expect. The rest of the interior is as per the standard versions. In front of you is a two-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel and behind that is a seven-inch digital instrument panel, which looks a touch over-crowded with data, but which generally works fine. In the centre of the dash is the 10.25-inch touchscreen, which has a reasonably sensible menu layout, but too often it presents you with buttons that are far too small to be easily used when on the move. Overall, the infotainment system is a bit mixed - it can be too fiddly to use, and while the Bluetooth phone connection worked perfectly every time, we simply couldn't get Apple CarPlay to activate. There are some physical shortcut buttons below the screen, which do help a bit.

Beneath those there is a plinth which juts out from the dashboard, home to the rotary drive selector, the electric parking brake switch and the wireless phone charging pad. That's a useful addition, but without any clip to secure the phone we wouldn't be leaving anything there if you're going to exploit the XPower's 0-100km/h time...

Beneath the plinth, and proving a bit of a stretch to reach, are USB sockets and a 12-volt socket, and behind those, two well-sized cupholders. There's also a large storage space with a sliding cover, and more storage under the front armrest.

In the rear of the cabin, space is fine, although very tall passengers will find that their knees will be just brushing the backs of the front seats. Those seatbacks do come with useful map pockets, and smaller pockets set high up which are perfect for phones or earbud cases. The rear seats themselves are comfortable, and they get the same nice Alcantara centres as the front seats, but the rear floor is quite high which will put some passengers' knees up at an awkward angle. There's also a vestigial transmission hump in the floor, which limits foot space for anyone trying to squeeze into the middle rear seat.

Further back, the boot holds a reasonable 363 litres if loaded up to the luggage cover, and while the rear seats don't quite fold 100 per cent flat (they do sit at a slight upward angle when folded, but only a slight one) they do at least form an unobstructed floor with the boot, and there's only a tiny load lip when you're heaving in heavy items. There's only one shopping bag hook in the boot, though, which is a bit limiting.

Overall quality isn't bad, but we did find that some parts - notably the steering wheel and the physical buttons - felt a bit cheap and fragile. That's acceptable if you're buying the MG4 at its cheapest, but much less so in this pricier, range-topping XPower.

The MG4 XPower driving experience

Depending on how you judge these things, the MG4 XPower is considered to be the most powerful model that the company has ever made. In the early 2000s, MG-Rover came close, as it was developing a XPower-badged, V8-engined, rear-drive version of the (Rover 75-based) MG ZT sports saloon with up to 385hp, but that came to naught as the company went bust before that model could be put on sale (the regular rear-drive V8-engined ZT did go on sale, but had a mere 260hp).

With 435hp, the MG4 XPower is well clear of even the prototype ZT XPower, but there is one other MG that technically had more grunt - the original MG Metro 6R4 rally car. Now, that depends on the version, of course. The factory-spec 6R4 was originally rated at 410hp, but a later upgrade did improve that to 450hp. Of course, those were full-on rally cars, and not series-production models. Mind you, MST motorsports in Wales, which has been making road-going restomod Ford Escort Mk1 and Mk2 cars for the past few years, is apparently working on an Audi-engined 6R4 restomod, but even that will have only 330hp...

But we digress. And in fact, we're going to digress just a little more, because MG has only made one other car that came anywhere near to the power output of this MG4 XPower, and that's the teardrop-shaped MG EX181 land speed record car of 1959 which had a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine developing 304hp - 131hp short of the MG4 XPower it may have been, but that was good enough - in the hands of no less than Stirling Moss and Phil Hill - to set a class land speed record of 409km/h at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

There's a more direct connection between that astonishing record car and this electric hot hatch - the colour. The MG4 XPower's Racing Green Matte paint is a dead ringer for the shade painted onto the EX181, and while colour can't affect the handling and dynamics of a car, I'm a sucker for a good shade of green, and this is a frankly terrific shade.

Aesthetics aside, the MG4 XPower more than lives up to its name and its legacy in a straight line. It weighs a fair chunk - 1,800kg would once have been unthinkable for a hot hatch, but it's not bad for an EV - but it sprints with venom to 100km/h. Don't leave the lids off any drinks if you're trying that. As with any high-performance EV, that staggering, supercar-slaying performance is delivered without fuss or difficulty, but if the road surface is less than perfect, you will feel that the wheels, the front ones especially, are squirming around a bit.

That leads to the MG4 XPower's slight disappointment - it's not that great in the corners. In the dim and distant past, classic MG models such as the TC and TD, and the later MGA and MGB had modest power outputs but made up for that with tactile and engaging handling (a recipe which the Mazda MX-5 continues to this day), but the MG4 XPower is the other way around. The sheer sledgehammer hit of the power and torque is entertaining in and of itself, but it's a shame that the steering and braking don't offer much for the keen driver and the XPower feels a bit inert to drive. We'd have been happier with less power, but more poise.

That said, there's still some considerable fun to be had - you need to treat the MG4 XPower like an old-school 1980s turbocharged Formula One car. Which means braking hard and early for a corner, getting the car to the apex in some kind of acceptable manner, and then unleashing all that insane performance as the corner straightens up and out. It's not the most driver-centric performance around, but it is good fun.

MG deserves kudos for resisting the temptation to fit needlessly big alloy wheels to the XPower. The 18-inch rims look perfectly smart on the outside, but critically, they don't upset the ride quality, and while this MG is firmly sprung, it rides with very good deportment.

Range on one charge is fine, but not exceptional. MG quotes an official figure of 385km, and in mixed driving you should get around 300-320km, while long motorway runs will probably need you to stop at about 280km. Not bad, considering the performance on offer, but it would be interesting to see how the XPower would perform with the larger 74kWh battery (although the extra weight would likely be a compromise too far). The 140kW DC-charging rate is better than you get in some of the MG's competition, so speedy top-ups can be achieved.

Speedy getaways, though? Maybe not. The MG4 XPower is one of those cars with no starter button, so you simply sit in and press the brake pedal. However, we noticed an occasional, and quite lengthy, delay at times in pressing the brake and actually getting a 'ready' notice on the dashboard, while the rotary drive selector would sometimes hesitate when selecting D or R.

Our verdict on the MG4 XPower

The MG4 XPower is something of a flawed diamond. On the one hand, it is a terrific reminder that this is a brand with true sporting heritage, and if we accept that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is actually a big crossover, then it is also potentially the first proper all-electric hot hatch. It suffers a bit in the corners, with inert handling and steering, but the potent straight-line performance is properly dramatic, and right now nothing goes as fast for the same price.

What do the rest of the team think?

I agree with Neil on the gorgeous colour, though I'd take the orange brake covers off for a stealthier appearance - nobody will guess you have way over 400hp then. Saying that, I was expecting it to feel faster than it does. And sadly, the rear-drive model - with less than half the power, remember - is actually more engaging and more fun to drive in the corners. A proper hot hatch is about more than a surfeit of power, though the XPower does undeniably give a huge bang for your buck.

Shane O' Donoghue - Editor


Tech Specs

Model testedMG4 EV XPower
Irish pricing€42,995 as tested; MG4 starts at €29,995
Powertrainelectric - two motors, lithium-ion battery pack of 61.8kWh usable energy capacity
Transmissionautomatic - single-speed, four-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat hatchback
CO2 emissions0g/km
Irish motor tax€120
Official electric range385km
Max charging speeds140kW on DC, 11kW on AC
Energy consumption19.0kWh/100km
Charging port typeCCS Combo
Top speed200km/h
0-100km/h3.8 seconds
Max power435hp
Max torque443Nm
Boot space363 litres all seats in use, 1,163 litres rear seats folded
Kerb weight1,800kg
Rivals to the 4 XPower (2024)