The MG ZS EV is an all-electric compact SUV that’s good to drive, a practical size, and it’s also relatively affordable.
MG was a very well known brand in the UK a number of years ago, most notably for its sports cars. MG has recently reappeared as a subsidiary of SAIC, a Shanghai-based Chinese state-owned automotive company – but its UK products are designed and engineered in Longbridge, Birmingham. It has brought us the MG3 hatchback and the GS and ZS compact SUVs – the latter being petrol-powered to date, however there’s now also an all-electric version.
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The MG ZS has fairly generic compact SUV styling, but it’s generally inoffensive. It’s a similar story inside, but perhaps the key thing is that the ZS is a practical size for families, with a decent 470 litre boot – which is bigger than the 448 litre boot of the petrol model.
The MG ZS EV is a pure electric car, with a 44.5 kWh battery, and a 105 kW electric motor driving the front wheels.
The MG ZS EV shares the attributes of most electric cars, ie. instant torque, a quiet and refined driving experience, and of course zero tailpipe emissions. And there’s no clutch or gears to contend with.
As well as having responsive acceleration, the ZS EV is reasonably fun and agile to drive, and this is helped by the car’s 1,534 kg kerb weight, which is actually fairly lightweight for an EV.
There’s a rotary dial to change between reverse, neutral and drive, and there are three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. There’s also a ‘KERS’ switch, which allows you to choose between regen braking levels of 1, 2 or 3.
Primary ride quality is fine, but the ZS EV doesn’t deal with large speed bumps particularly comfortably.
The interior generally combines form and function reasonably effectively – and it’s good to see that there are physical controls for the temperature and ventilation rather than these functions being hidden in the touchscreen. However there are a few areas for improvement. Chief amongst these is the lack of any reach adjustment on the steering column, which means that many people will be unable to find a perfect driving position.
The next issue is that when you start the car there’s no driving range displayed in the instrument panel. You can find this by scrolling through a button on the steering wheel, but it would make so much more sense to have the remaining battery range displayed at all times.
The infomedia system just about does the job, but some shortcut buttons around the screen would help with functionality.
An interesting feature is that it appears that there’s no way to display the desired interior temperature; rather than providing a temperature in degrees Centigrade, as virtually all other modern cars do, dialling the temperature up just results in blocks building up on a bar graph.
Our test car had quite a few warning beeps but MG assures us that is purely because this was a pre-production car, and this won’t be an issue with customers’ vehicles.
The official combined WLTP driving range for the MG ZS EV is 163 miles. Our test car displayed a projected range of 161 miles, which is pretty close. The new WLTP test also provides a ‘City’ driving range, which is 231 miles in the case of the ZS EV. If you’re interested in the car’s efficiency, then it has a figure of 3.3 miles/kWh or 18.6 kWh/100km.
Charging time from 0 to 100% using a 7kW wall box is 6 hours 30 minutes; to 80% using a 50kW CCS charger is 40 minutes. If you have to charge using a 3-pin domestic supply this will take 14 hours.
The MG ZS Exclusive EV costs £26,995 after the UK government Plug-in Car Grant, worth £3,500.
MG was offering an additional £3,500 off the price for the first 2,000 orders – which were secured within two months of the car’s launch. At the time of writing, MG will continue this offer for the next 1,000 retail customer orders; for the top of the range Exclusive version this will reduce the overall price to £23,495.
The other trim level for the electric model is Excite, which benefits from a new £3,000 MG Grant which, when paired with the government grant, results in an overall price from just £21,995. The MG ZS EV is available from MG dealers such as Vic Young.
The MG ZS EV will have very low running costs, and it has a Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability for 2019/20 of 16% – however this reduces to zero from April 2020.
The MG ZS EV is good to drive, it’s a practical size, and it’s good value for an all-electric compact SUV. There are a few areas where it could be improved, but overall this makes much more sense for urban driving than a petrol or diesel compact SUV – and it will have much lower running costs. The MG ZS EV gains a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10. One aspect of the ZS EV that we like is its relatively light weight; we can’t help thinking that if this was combined with some sports car genes, then with a lightweight, sporty and affordable EV, MG would have a real unique differentiation in the market.