9.12.2019MG ZS EV review
Regular comments from many who dismiss the idea of electric cars is that they don’t go far enough and they cost too much. There are now a wide variety of EVs that go a considerable distance, but the market for affordable new electric cars is still small. MG looks to change that with the ZS EV, a pure-electric version of its family-sized crossover.
Review by Chris Lilly
With a focus on practicality and affordability, the MG ZS EV is not exactly quick, but the performance available from the electric SUV is good nevertheless. Thanks to the natural characteristics of electric motors, for a car that doesn’t prioritise performance, the MG is plenty quick enough for most. The 0-62 mph time is 8.5 seconds, and in short bursts, particularly at lower speeds, the MG feels properly quick. It’s the ideal sort of performance for urban work, with a responsive throttle that makes quick work of tight junctions, car parks, and the stop/start nature of traffic. It performs well on country roads and the motorway too, but could perhaps do with a bit more power than the 105 kW available to drivers to feel truly comfortable on the motorway. There are better EVs for long-distance work, but the MG ZS EV will deal with faster trips well enough. Think of it as a short-distance machine with the capability for occasional motorway work, and the MG will fit your needs.
Relatively large, with a heavy battery, and a tall rife height, the MG ZS EV promises little when it comes to driving dynamics, but actually performs pretty well when driven. The light steering helps around town, but heightens up enough - though remains light - at speed. It leans a little through corners on country lanes, but that’s only natural considering the suspension seems to be set up with town driving in mind. It smooths out many lumps and bumps in built up areas, and behaves very well considering the ZS EV is a ‘budget’ EV. There’s little to give that impression when thinking of the driving experience - either the performance above or the handling here. It’s no premium express, but the ZS EV sticks to its brief extremely well. As a family-focused large crossover, the electric MG drives and handles well, keeping occupants comfy in all but the worst locations.
The MG ZS EV is a reasonably handsome crossover, around the size of a family hatchback on stilts, and with styling to suit the current European market. It’s a design that does everything well if not spectacularly. The ride height allows for easy access, and wheels are pushed pretty far into each corner for greater agility. It’s not too big nor too small, so fits a family and its kit in quite easily - in short, the ZS EV is a good all-round family car. Styling will not grab the attention of passers-by but nor will it put buyers off, and the exterior dimensions make for a practical crossover inside. Boot space is good and will comfortably take a push-chair/supermarket shop etc, with leg and head space in the rear more than ample for adults. In short, it’s a practical machine, and a well thought out one.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The interior is the first place that we’ve seen the cost-saving measures reveal themselves, with the MG unable to compete with just about anything else in its class for quality. Materials are harder throughout than most competitor efforts, and the design of switchgear is good, but underpinned with a lack of investment. It’s understandable, and a sensible choice for MG, because the cabin is far from horrible - it’s just not as good as rival efforts. However, if you can deal with this, and many will, the MG ZS EV is a nice enough place in which to sit. The drive and region selectors are well thought through, and there is a large touchscreen infotainment system, even if it’s not the highest quality around. Instruments are nice and clear to read, and the buttons and switches feel well put together, just with cheaper materials than in other cars. There is little wrong with that considering the MG’s OTR price considerably undercuts anything else in its class.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
MG’s official figures say that the ZS EV will cover 163 miles on a charge, and it has to be said that’s easily achievable. Having covered around 350 miles, the MG was returning around 150-160 miles with no effort at all, and on mainly faster roads. Taking it easier and sticking to town more, 170+ was a doddle, and calculations for 190+ miles were regularly worked out. It’s an efficient car to drive then, considering the battery isn’t huge, and the adjustable brake energy recuperation helps here. Longer, faster trips see the range drop to around 130-140 miles on a charge, but that’s to be expected with many EVs.
The MG ZS EV’s battery is 44.5 kWh, which means it’s not large in the current new EV market, but it’s just about big enough for a good range. The benefit of smaller batteries is that it takes less time to charge them, and the MG can accept up to 50 kW DC and 7 kW AC through the CCS inlet, located behind the grille. This means a rapid charge to 80% will take around 40 minutes, and a full charge from a home or public point will take 6-7 hours. There are three levels of brake energy recuperation, the strongest of which won’t allow ‘one-pedal’ driving, but will scrub enough speed off for most situations without bringing the car to a halt. Changing these requires the use of a switch rather paddles behind the wheel or a gear level system, which isn’t quite as convenient to make full use of it, but it’s still a good set-up on the whole. Drive modes include Eco for reduced throttle response and the potential for greater range, but I’d leave it in normal for most of the time.
Equipment levels are good for a car so keenly priced. There are two trim levels - Excite and Exclusive - which sees 17-inch alloys fitted as standard, as well as keyless entry and start, brake regeneration and drive mode select, leather steering wheel, and 8-inch touchscreen with DAB, USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. The higher trim adds leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, a boost to an already pretty comprehensive list of safety systems, electric driver’s seat, and reversing camera.
The MG ZS EV is a good EV in its own right, but considering the price it’s available for, it represents excellent value for money. Many EVs offer a greater range, or similar range at similar money, but with less space. The ZS EV provides buyers with a car that has a very usable driving range, practical interior, and at an excellent cost.
Model tested: MG ZS EV
Engine / CO2: 105 kW electric motor / 0 g/km
On-road price: from £24,995
Warranty: Seven years / 80,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars