I have been waiting to review the MG4 for a long time. A far better car than MG’s previous electric vehicle, the ZS EV, the MG4 launched in Australia with a much more attractive lineup of trims, with battery estimations ranging from 350km to 550km, depending on the owner’s budget. At the high-end of the MG4 range, however, is a dark horse of power and performance, arriving in Australia as the most expensive EV MG has ever released, and the cheapest all-wheel drive EV in the country – the MG4 XPower.
The MG4 XPower is a street sleeper – it feels unholy that a car can have this much power and still look so neutral. Weren’t it for the gorgeous orange brakes, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a standard member of the MG4 lineup.
And that’s a blessing and a curse. As a more sports-oriented EV, capable of an incredible 0-100km/h speed (3.8 seconds!), high-performance brakes, and a lap counter, you’d wish it handled a bit better, and maybe had a more attractive interior, bucket seats, and a bigger battery to compensate for the extra motor (capable of 320kW/600Nm between the two motors).
But, you know, you’ve also got a bloody second motor in there, and an acceleration that leaves the similarly priced Tesla Model 3 in the dust. Extras that might be in your car wishlist fly out the window when you’ve got acceleration that keeps you pinned to your seat.
Now you’re playing with power
It’s tough for me to gauge just how otherworldly the MG4 XPower’s performance is. I’ve driven plenty of fast cars – the Tesla Model Y Performance, the Audi E-Tron GT, and the Kia EV6 GT included – but because the MG4 belongs to a family of vehicles focused on practicality and budget, it feels like strapping a jet engine to a scooter.
The 0-100km/h speed of 3.8 seconds is not to be trifled with – it’s a hard speed to match among any car, and to my knowledge, you’d be flat out getting a speed like that among any EV below the $85,000 price point. Pulling onto a highway at a speed of 20km/h and accelerating all the way up to 110km/h, the feeling of acceleration was incredible, but perhaps a bit overpowering. I felt the steering wobble a little when getting up to speed now and again, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it should feel more stable when the accelerator gets floored.
It’s not scary or anything; you don’t feel a need to catch the car, but in an equivalently fast car, you’d feel contact with the ground enough that there’d be very little jitter when accelerating. It’s worth noting that this problem has actually held up deliveries of the MG4 XPower to Australia, with MG working on a fix.
Regardless, the speed definitely got tested constantly during my trip north from Sydney to Forster over a holiday. There’s no hating it. It helps that it’s such a small car, compared to large SUVs and sedans that EVs usually come as, although its turning circle didn’t seem all that great. It was much easier to park than the cumbersome E-Tron GT, but the E-Tron could turn much better when getting into a tight spot.
On my journey, I recharged the car’s battery three times at public chargers (once on the way up, and twice on the way back, as I was returning from Kew, which is a bit further away), and overnight using the car’s emergency charger (the slowest charger you can get, but it works perfectly fine if you’re doing it overnight and don’t need a quick recharge).
Two charges to travel a distance of 400km might not seem like the best deal for some people, and for many it shouldn’t be. In my experience, I was able to get about 350km out of a full battery with the MG4 XPower, though I was often running the car in the ‘Eco’ mode (that saves motor power in exchange for longer range) or the ‘Normal’ mode (same thing to a lesser extent), with very little aircon on. The WLTP range of the XPower is 400km.
The battery for this car is certainly better than that of the MG ZS EV, there’s no mistaking that, but it’s really not built for long distances (that would be the ‘Long Range’ MG4 model). You can certainly travel far, as I have, but it won’t be a painless experience. If you’ve been craving an AWD EV that can go the distance, I think you’d be disappointed by the MG4, but it’s more of a fun-focused ride than a holiday mobile.
Just while we’re talking about the battery: At a public charger in Taree, I was among five drivers waiting to charge up, while only two cars at a time could use the chargers. The infrastructure is seriously still not there yet, one year on from my 1,000km road trip with the ZS EV.
Additionally, it’d be nice if there were more things inside the MG4 XPower that set it apart from the standard range. Stuff like bucket seats or maybe a two-tone trim, just something more indicative of the fact that you are, in fact, driving a rocket. Although, perhaps subtly is attractive to some hoons.
Stronger lane assistance would have also been nice (it was often unable to identify lines on each side of the road), but it feels wrong to say this – you’re driving a hot hatch, f*cking drive it.
I did encounter one software issue with the MG4 XPower where all of the car’s systems, including the gear shifter, were reporting a fault and were inoperable, but just turning the car off and on again resolved this. My assumption is that this was a pre-release operating system issue, but if you encounter it, just turn the car off and on again through the centre console.
And that’s about it for the MG4 XPower. We’ll go more into general review information when we get an opportunity to review one of the non-XPower models (watch this space), but when it comes to the XPower, performance is everything.
The verdict: Should you buy the MG4 XPower?
For this car, more than any other EV I’ve reviewed, I stress that it’s not for everybody. MG has done a tremendous job of releasing five different MG4 trims in Australia, with each model focused on different pros and cons, but if you’re in the market for any of the other MG4s, then I don’t think you’re really after the XPower. What you’re really after is a nice-looking car with an alright range and a decent price tag, which all of the MG4s have, albeit at different levels.
The XPower, however, is the performance-oriented member of the family, and it’s meant to appeal to speed lovers. 400km WLTP range really isn’t a lot when you’re trying to run two motors, but in the right conditions, the XPower is an absolute pleasure to drive – and it seriously wants to be driven hard. It’s probably the most fun EV you can buy under $60,000 in Australia, sitting alongside the Cupra Born.
The MG4 XPower starts at $59,990 in Australia.
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia