Car reviews

First Drive: The Cyberster Is MG’s 100th Birthday Present for All

by Alisdair Suttie
3 July 2024 6 min read
First Drive: The Cyberster Is MG’s 100th Birthday Present for All
Photos courtesy MG

Launching a car to mark a big anniversary is nothing new for car companies – think Ferrari F40 or Honda S2000 – but MG needed something quite special to celebrate its centenary. Enter the Cyberster, a thoroughly forward-thinking take on the traditional MG roadster and a fitting tribute to the pioneering sports cars that made MG a staple of the roadster market – and fun car market – for so much of its history.

That line goes all the way back to the very first MGs that were hotted-up versions of Morris models. It wasn’t long before MG moved on to its own bespoke models in the second half of the 1920s, and the Cyberster continues a tradition started by the likes of the 18/80 and M-Type Midget. If that sounds like a stretch for brand continuity, it’s more to do with the ethos of the cars than any direct lineage, just as the current Porsche 718 Boxster shares nothing but history with those dainty race cars of the 1950s.

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Fast-forwarding to the present day, MG has risen from the debacle that saw the name slip from UK ownership to the Chinese in 2005. Fears that it would simply be attached to dull cars looked like they might be realised with some very unsporting models launched from 2011. Then, thankfully, MG found its way again as electric cars came to the fore in the European market. Just as MG had offered the right sports car at the right time in the pre- and postwar years, the company had cars that drivers wanted with the likes of the MG4 and MG5. The foundation of those models has given the firm the confidence to introduce a two-seat, open-top sports car for the first time since the MGF of 30 years ago.

Where the MGF was absolutely in the mould of those classic MG models such as the many Midgets, T-Series cars, the MGA, and MGB, the Cyberster is a different prospect, and not just for its electric drivetrain. More fundamental is a shift upmarket, away from where we might have expected to see a rival to the Mazda MX-5. What we have here is a car that butts heads with none other than the Porsche Boxster, a car that defines its sector like few others.

MG Cyberster open road

MG is at pains to describe the Cyberster as a grand touring car, and not just because the more powerful twin-motor version takes the GT name, where the single-motor model is named Trophy. However, with a £54,995 price that is within £1000 of the German here at the UK launch event for the base Cyberster, the comparisons are unavoidable. If you want the Cyberster GT, which frankly makes a Boxster S seem a bit sluggish, you need to add a further £5000 to the final tally, though this is still around £5000 less than a Boxster S, before you add any options.

So, the MG can still lay claim to being good value, especially given there are no other two-seat EV roadsters on the market within even shouting distance of this price. There are some on the way at the time of writing, notably an electric Porsche roadster and the much touted next Tesla Roadster, but for the present MG has this niche to itself.

Specs: MG Cyberster Trophy

• Price: £54,995 (base); £55,540 (as-tested)
• Powertrain: 250kW single electric motor, single-speed transmission
• Horsepower: 340PS
• Torque: 350 lb-ft 
 Layout: Rear-wheel-drive, two-door, two-passenger sports car
• Weight: 4156 lb
• EPA-rated fuel economy: 316-mile range
• Competition: Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4, Alpine A110

So, what do you get for your money? Well, the battery pack sits low in the bespoke frame with classic double wishbone suspension up front. At the back, there’s a multilink set-up, and in the Trophy the single motor powers the rear wheels. This model comes with a 250kW motor, which equates to 340PS to give 0–62mph in 5.0 seconds and a 121mph top speed. Drive it reasonably gently and MG claims a range of 316 miles on a full charge, which proved eerily accurate during our time with the car over plenty of miles.

MG Cyberster head on cornering

If you’re after more performance, the GT has a second electric motor powering the front wheels, which bumps power up to 375kW, or 503PS, while also adding four-wheel-drive to the mix. Launch it off the line and it hits 62mph from rest in 3.2 seconds, with a top end of 125mph. Neither top speed is that impressive against the Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4, but you’ll rarely see these numbers on the road anyhow, so it’s largely academic, as is the case with most EVs. It’s also worth noting the GT weighs an extra 10kg over the Trophy due to its second motor, and battery range drops to a still-decent 276 miles.

Much more important is the way the Cyberster builds its speed. Where many EVs are one-trick ponies that shoot off the line and leave passengers gasping to keep their lunch in its correct place, the MG is a more subtle actor. There’s no denying it is quick in either form, but there’s also no drama to its acceleration. Plant your foot on the throttle and it doesn’t scramble for traction or light up the wheels. Rather, there’s a gentle hunker as the Cyberster gets into its stride that leads to rapid, linear progress. It might not have the drama of a Tesla Model S Plaid in full flight, but the Cyberster’s performance is entirely in keeping with its brief to be a grand tourer. You can sharpen things up with the different driving modes – Comfort, Custom, Sport, and Track – but we found Comfort worked best in almost every situation.

MG Cyberster driving above

On a mix of roads, the Cyberster’s performance is very much on a par with a Porsche Boxster’s. Whether it’s overtaking slower traffic or pulling onto a faster stretch, there’s plenty of power and response. You don’t get the howl of the Porsche’s engine with the MG, though you can have an artificially generated ‘engine’ sound. Frankly, we just switched it off and enjoyed the sensation of driving a roadster with roof down in silence.

MG Cyberster rear 3/4 low top up

Open-top driving in an EV is a different prospect to that in an ICE-powered sports car – not better or worse, just different. There’s little wind buffeting in the Cyberster’s cabin, and a deflector prevents the wind whipping up the back of your neck. Raising or lowering the fabric hood takes 15 seconds and can be done on the move at up to 30mph, so no need to seek refuge at the side of the road when it starts to rain. Hood up, the MG’s cabin is very refined, and vision for the driver is still good.

And with the hood in the raised position, the Cyberster’s grand touring credentials are obvious. Its refinement means long hours are whiled away in comfort, helped by supportive seats with electric adjustment and that are heated, along with the steering wheel.

Ride comfort is another big tick for the Cyberster, and it copes with gnarly roads with equal aplomb to a Boxster. The MG is a little more softly set than the Porsche, but on the 19-inch alloy wheels of the Trophy you don’t have to swerve round dips, ridges, or potholes. You can feel these bumps, but only as muted sensations and without any untoward jarring. It lets the MG take your intended line along a road or through a corner with no fuss, and the steering is similarly set up to be accurate and faithful though not quite as pin sharp as a Boxster’s.

There is still plenty of feel in the MG’s steering, however, which is far from always the case in EVs, which means you can turn into a corner sure in the knowledge of what’s going on at the front wheels. Plenty of grip from the front and fine traction at the rear as power is applied make this a sports car capable of quick cross-country sweeps. It also does a superb job of masking its 4156lb (1885kg) mass, helped by 50/50 front-rear weight distribution.

Even though the battery is slung low in the MG’s chassis, we did initially feel like we were sitting too high in the car. This feeling subsided after a few miles, and the general sense is of being cocooned in the Cyberster, just as you would expect of a two-seat roadster. The fit and finish of the cabin are every bit as good as a Boxster’s, and arguably the MG is a much more modern design than Porsche’s now-gently ageing roadster. You also have the never-gets-old drama of the MG’s scissor doors when getting in and out, and they are genuinely practical rather than a gimmick, as they make things easy when parked in tightly packed spaces.

MG Cyberster front 3/4 doors open

The one downside to the MG’s cabin is the layout of its dash. The main 10.25-inch display is very good, but the twin 7.0-inch screens on either side are both obscured by the steering wheel and the driver’s knuckles. This means you end up only seeing about two-thirds of each screen, and curiously their positioning also makes it more awkward to use the touchscreens when working functions like the stereo and sat-nav. At least the separate touchscreen for the climate control in the centre console is clear and simple to work. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, an eight-speaker Bose stereo, digital audio broadcasting, and voice recognition are all included as standard across the range.

MG Cyberster steering wheel touchscreens

Our only other gripe with the Cyberster is the boot. It’s unaffected for space whether the roof is up or down, but it’s quite shallow and that means you’d really only be able to pack soft bags to head off on a longer trip. However, there is some added storage behind the seats which is big enough for another couple of bags, and there are door pockets and cupholders for smaller items. And anyway, a small boot in a sports car is not going to put anyone off choosing this roadster from MG.

As a marque that is unapologetic for being forward looking, MG’s Cyberster is a fitting birthday present to itself – and to its legions of fans. It’s also just a mighty fine sports car, which means any new EV roadster from Porsche, Tesla, or anyone else is going to have its work cut out to better the MG.

MG Cyberster above doors open

2025 MG Cyberster Trophy

Highs: Brilliantly rounded, swift roadster that is fun first and EV second.

Lows: Poorly placed secondary dash screens and a shallow boot. 

Takeaway: A thoroughly modern, and entertaining, take on the MG sports car theme.

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MG Cyberster 100th anniversary script
MG Cyberster head on driving
MG Cyberster rear driving
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Comments

  • Chris says:

    From what I’ve read here and elsewhere it certainly seems to be a very good proposition – except for the fact that it’s ELECTRIC! Oh and on a minor point, the rear indicators remind me of an accessory I had on my push bike in the early 1960s….

    I don’t doubt that the Cyberster will find a world market, but we’ll be keeping our 1932 MG J2 and 2011 Boxster Spyder thank you very much.

  • John says:

    Who came up with such aweful name? Main problem with this car will be image, what would you rather say you’re driving, a Porsche or an MG?

  • Sidney says:

    The Boxster was always irritating, simply due to the 911 being ridiculously overpriced. Nice to see such a crackling alternative.

  • Joseph Carby-Hall says:

    The MG Cyberster looks superb but I should certainly not part with my MG Roadster of 1965 for the latest MG. Nor would I part with my other three classic sports cars, namely the Jaguar 1955 or my Mercedes 1980. and my Bentley 1932. Electric cars are overpriced and have numerous disadvantages. – both financial and technical. I should wish to wait a long time before I purchase an electric car. I nevertheless wish the MG Cyberster every good fortune but until it has proved itself if prefer to stick to my current classic cars and may even purchase a vintage one!

  • Malcolm Novar says:

    What a SAD proposition for a MG? What happened to a nice V-8 to pop into the engine bay!

  • adrian Colley says:

    Maybe if they had called it the “Cyber Car” it would have made more sense

  • Martin says:

    Please, less of the ‘British brand’ stuff – it simply isn’t

  • David C Queen says:

    Did they not think to use TVR manta of being able to fit a set of golf clubs in the boot was a prerequisite to sports car design?

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