Sceptics, step aside. The fastest car MG has ever sold is a properly fun electric hyper hatch that carves corners like it's nobody's business.

Certainly, it’s easy to be sceptical when a car that aims to challenge long-held opinions comes along. A bonafide performance car emerging from a Chinese manufacturer predominantly known for building cut-price hatchbacks and SUVs while trading off an aged British name seems improbable. ‘Sure, it’s powerful,’ I hear you say, ‘but it won’t drive that well, right?’

Reputation is a strong driving voice of opinion, and over the past few years, Chinese brand MG has ignited the Australian car market ablaze with a formidable introductory pricing strategy since its local relaunch in 2017. Since then, MGs have swiftly earned a name as a budget-conscious but somewhat lacklustre mass-market economy vehicle. Such a characterisation hardly sparks enthusiasm among the typical Australian car enthusiast.

But now that MG has established a solid presence in Australia, the timing couldn’t be more opportune for the brand to showcase an entirely new architecture as the foundation for all its future vehicles with the launch of the all-electric MG4, which we’ve previously looked at in entry-level form. With the upcoming Cyberster sports car and next-gen MG3 sharing its new and impressive platform, MG has unequivocally shown the motoring world that it means business.

It’s strategic brilliance akin to The Art of War, enkindling the motoring industry not by conflict, but by building affordable hatchbacks before, in a remarkable twist, unveiling class-leading vehicles that quickly amass awards worldwide.

Meet the MG4 XPower – the range-topping version of the brand’s new well-respected EV which is the first high-performance vehicle to be based on MG’s new platform. Priced at a mere $59,990 drive-away nationally, it’s a dual-motor electric rocketship which boasts power and torque figures surpassing the crème de la crème of German engineering such as the 294kW Audi RS3 and 310kW Mercedes-AMG A 45 S.

What figures exactly? You’re looking at 320kW of power and 600Nm of instant electric torque, driving all four wheels through two electric motors. The front motor delivers 150kW, while the rear motor provides 170kW, biasing the power towards the rear wheels. It’s seriously quick, and it pushes you into the back of your seat with impressive force.

Undoubtedly, MG has delivered a properly quick car at a price that we could’ve only dreamed of some years back. If that doesn’t at least mildly grab the attention of the car enthusiasts out there, you might as well stop reading here.

In performance testing conducted in hot Sydney summer weather, the MG4 XPower achieved a one-off best 0-100km/h time of an extraordinary 3.78 seconds, although most runs were closer to a relatively consistent four-second time. The claimed 3.8 second time is slightly optimistic under most conditions, but it is certainly an achievable number under completely optimal conditions.

In terms of exterior aesthetics, the XPower model maintains a similar appearance to the standard and long-range versions, making it easy to mistake for any other MG4 model at first glance. However, several minor but distinctive features, such as grey lower trim pieces instead of black, a sizeable split spoiler shared with the Long Range variant, and prominent orange brake callipers distinguish the XPower from the rest of the pack.

While opinions on the design language may vary, the MG4 at least stands out as an all-original design, distinct from any other hatchback available on the market. This is a departure from the trend of Chinese-designed cars being somewhat derivative, marking a clear step in the right direction for the brand.

Visually, it may look like a futuristic city hatchback, but beneath the metalwork lies a very different animal. On twisty roads, the XPower is aided by MG’s new ‘Dynamic Cornering Control’ torque-vectoring system, which manages torque distribution to individual wheels. This system works alongside an electronic locking differential and ‘Intelligent Motor Control’ which collectively contribute to improved handling and stability during rapid cornering manoeuvres.

In addition to the torque-vectoring system, MG has upgraded the XPower’s suspension components over standard MG4 models. This includes revised spring and damper tuning, stiffer anti-roll bars, and adjustments aimed at providing a sharper steering feel. MG claims that the suspension of the XPower model is 25 percent firmer compared to the standard variants, but how does this all stack up on the road?

Weighing in at 1800kg, the XPower certainly isn’t a lightweight car, but nor is it overly heavy for an EV. The steering feels responsive and tight, particularly when switched to Sport mode, although it does lack some feedback. This means that for most spirited driving, the steering is generally precise enough, but it can be caught off guard on tight hairpin turns, offering minimal feedback to guide the return of the wheel to centre after exiting the corner. This, coupled with the car’s substantial instant torque, means its limits can be reached quickly as it breaks into an easily induced tyre-shredding powerslide.

Speaking of tyres, it’s evident that MG didn’t prioritise upgrades in this area. The Bridgestone Turanza T005 EV tyres, while decent, are typically found on your run-of-the-mill electric cars, so when subjected to the doubled power and immense torque output of the XPower, they struggle to cope and rapidly lose grip.

Striking the perfect balance requires a relatively gentle pedal application and getting accustomed to its unconventional steering characteristics. Once mastered, the XPower can tackle corners with an impressive pace, fast enough to keep up with most performance cars on a mountain pass. It’s a unique driving experience that is very uncharacteristic of a fast hatch. While still very much retaining that point-and-shoot feel, it also delivers that excitement of oversteer on command. Despite its drawbacks, it’s a properly fun formula.

On the inside, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster suits the car’s modern and simple interior, but the first hassle I noticed was the difficulty in controlling that display, especially having never sat in one previously. Figuring out which buttons control what can become quite confusing, as the seemingly counterintuitive unlabelled thumb-stick controls serve multiple purposes – such as the trip computer, volume, track, and so on – depending on the content displayed on the instrument cluster.

Although this is something that an owner will get used to, the 10.25-inch infotainment display lets it down most when it comes to cabin tech. It suffers from lagginess and slow responsiveness, making it less functional than displays in most other new cars. During testing, the display froze twice, necessitating a forced restart to get the display functioning again. Once you do get the screen worked out, its hidden menus and displays make for a perplexing experience. I even had to do a Google search to figure out how to adjust certain vehicle settings, discovering that it was in a hidden swipe down menu.

Drive mode selection and the regenerative braking level is also selected through these same confusing menus, but luckily, both of these can be mapped into the two customisable steering wheel buttons, which I’d highly recommend doing. After doing so, a click of a button can be used to cycle between Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow, and Custom modes, as well as four levels of regenerative braking.

I’d recommend lower regen on day-to-day driving, but maximum regen is imperative for spirited driving. The brakes look large, but unfortunately what you see are just mere metal covers hiding feeble callipers behind them. These brakes will struggle to offset the immense speeds the car reaches before each corner, and it will feel underbraked without the regenerative braking assistance. With maximum regen on, braking feels adequate.

The XPower also comes with satellite navigation and built-in track mode which displays performance data and times stages via GPS. It also gives the driver a G-meter on the instrument cluster. For other upgrades, the six-speaker audio system delivers acceptable sound quality and an improvement over the four-speaker setup found in entry-level variants but lacking the premium feel of a high-end sound system. For its price point, though, I can’t complain.

Another system that felt a bit primitive was the cruise control system. While the car maintains speed on the highway, its radar cruise control only maintains the set speed effectively on flat, straight roads, while slowing down excessively on descents and during slight turns. However, its autonomous emergency braking system functions well, applying full ABS braking when approaching stopped vehicles in traffic at speeds anticipating a potential collision.

When it comes to general build quality, it’s a bit of a mixed bag but generally quite solid. While the seats boast a combination of faux leather and Alcantara and provide a comfortable seating experience, some other areas feel less premium. Notably, while the frequently touched spots are sturdy and have a good feel with soft-touch materials, some of the less accessible areas under the piano-black console and dashboard reveal flimsier hard plastics.

Connectivity-wise, the car is equipped with both USB-A and USB-C ports up front, along with a single USB-A port for the rear seats. The XPower features a six-way power adjustable driver’s seat and manual adjustment for the passenger seat, but both front seats come equipped with seat heating as standard, along with heating for the steering wheel.

Interior space is rather impressive for a hatchback with ample front and rear legroom. In terms of boot space, there’s 363 litres on offer with all seats in place and 1165 litres of storage with the rear seats folded down.

Equipped with a 64kWh battery pack, of which 62.1kWh is usable, the XPower shares the same battery capacity on offer in Excite and Essence models. The claimed factory range is 400km, placing it slightly behind the MG4 Excite 64 and Essence 64’s 450km claim, along with the Long Range 77 which claims 530km. The latter of those is clearly the variant to go for if range is your highest priority.

Across 581km of testing, I averaged 18.7kWh/100km, equating to a real-life range expectation of approximately 292km. This figure falls short of the claimed 15.2kWh/100km, but it’s worth noting that much of the testing involved performance driving in rural areas which isn’t typical for most daily commutes.

Similar to most other electric vehicles sold in Australia, charging is facilitated via a Type 2 port with CCS fast charging capability. With a 6.6kW home charging unit, the MG4 XPower will take 9 hours to reach a full charge, while replenishing at a 50kW public CCS charger takes 60 minutes to reach 80 percent, while a 150kW or higher rated charger brings this time down to 28 minutes, with charge speeds capped at 140kW.

The XPower is covered by MG’s standard seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with capped priced servicing for the first seven services available for customers at 24 month/40,000km intervals (equivalent to 14 years/280,000km of servicing). Costs for servicing alternates between $296 and $962 at each interval.

While many enthusiasts still associate the brand with its cut-price cars of the past few years, the MG4 XPower clearly represents a significant advancement in technology, quality, and performance, making one of the most substantial leaps forward from any automaker – particularly within such a short period.

There’s no denying that the MG4 has its drawbacks – there’s clearly a need for better cabin technology, improved steering response, and better factory-fit tyres that can handle this car’s performance.

Nonetheless, MG’s new platform has substantial potential, and given time for refinement, the XPower nameplate could well be a solid contender in the Australian performance car market. The MG4 XPower clearly casts aside scepticism and bridges MG’s electric future with the esteemed automotive legacy that comes with this once-British badge.

2024 MG4 XPower Drive-Away Price: $59,990
  • 9.5/10
    Performance - 9.5/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Tech & Features - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Practicality - 7.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Value for Money - 8.5/10

Pros: Incredible performance, fun driving characteristics, good handling, affordable price, original design
Cons: Infotainment software is lacklustre, steering feel is lacking, tyres are not rated for the power, tacky brake calliper covers, questionable looks

In a nutshell: A frighteningly quick and properly fun electric hatch at an extremely affordable price. Although it needs some software refinement and fine dynamic tuning, it proves to the world that MG is a more than capable automaker.

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by MG Motor Australia for five days with a full charge upon collection.

Special thanks to Aqiella Azhar for joining the author on this extensive road test.

Shuqi Yu
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