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MG ZS EV: Is this NZ’s Best Bang For Your Buck EV?

The biggest gripe with EVs, particularly when it comes to New Zealand buyers, is that more often than not, all electric vehicles tend to be on the somewhat pricier side. So, if the idea of a second-hand Nissan Leaf doesn’t do it for you, then you will be happy to know there is still a good selection of relatively affordable new EVs out there. Here is the latest offering from the clever clogs at SAIC, the all new MG ZS EV, and it’s also the cheapest.

It seems like just yesterday we saw the fall and rebirth of the MG brand. While some purists have been hurling accusations at MG’s parent company of tarnishing the history of the brand with an onslaught of affordable mainstream motoring. However, you can’t deny the numbers, as New Zealand MG dealerships are shifting units pretty much on a daily basis.  

Anyway, back to the ZS EV, MG’s first foray into the EV market, let’s see what’s what. Well as mentioned previously, the ZS EV is the most affordable new EV on sale in NZ, retailing at $48,990 plus ORC. This also includes an eight year 160,000km battery warranty, five-year unlimited kilometre vehicle warranty and five years road side assistance package. Nothing to be sniffed at really.

SAIC are no strangers to EVs, as they have managed to produce mor then 185,000 Electric Vehicles in 2019, making SAIC one of the top five producers of EVs by volume globally. So, you would think the tech in the ZS EV would be a statement of success? Let’s see.

The ZS EV’s 44.5kW battery sends 105kW of combined oomph to all four wheels. Combined driving range is rated at 263km. MG haven’t said exactly, but say charging time with a three-point plug into the wall at home takes overnight. However, a fast charging set up will give you 80 per cent charge in around 45 minutes.

When it comes to charging up, admittedly this writer was rather perplexed to begin with at the mysterious location of the charging point. There were no petrol cap style giveaways anywhere on the car, until a press of the MG logo house in the front grill ended the search to reveal a charging point.

Styling wise, the ZS EV looks almost identical to the regular petrol ZS. You still get the two tone, five spoke alloys, diamond inspired radiator grill and headlights which MG claim are inspired by the London Eye. In fact, the only hint of its electric intentions is the Clipper Blue paint scheme available only on the ZS EV, and the ZS EV badge on the rear.

Inside, its very much the same story as the recently release ZST. An eight-inch infotainment screen takes centre stage with a very Windows 10 vibe to it. However, below the sometimes hard to fathom air con controls, are three switches which allow you to switch between drive modes, levels of regenerative braking, and to check on the remaining range. The EV motif is also complemented with a rotary gear selector and an electric power usage gauge next to the speedometer.

The ZS EV is also the second new MG after the new ZST to receive MG Pilot safety package. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision Warning, Emergency Braking, Speed Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Jam Assist, Auto Headlights and Intelligent Cruise Assist.

Other features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Sat Nav, heated leather seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The latter of these does not have a one touch operation system, so having to hold the button down to make it go fully back can be a tad annoying after repeated use.

At 4314mm long and 1809mm wide, the ZS EV is still relatively compact by SUV standards, however thanks to the extra weight of those lithium ion batteries, the ZS EV weighs in with a kerb weight of 1532kg, making it 50kg heavier than the petrol ZST.

The driving position itself is decent but the leather seats feel quite hard, but the leather wrapped steering wheel feels good in your mitts. That said, there is still an issue of quality, which while better than before, is still not quite there yet. Despite the batteries underneath, the ZS EV hasn’t compromised on legroom and luggage space, with a combined space of 1149 litres with the rear seats folded down.

You can choose between three drive modes, ECO, Normal and Sport and the three levels of regenerative braking, light, moderate and heavy. The default level is heavy on start-up, which can be a tad unnerving for the uninitiated.

At a commuting pace, the ZS EV defiantly feels heavier than its petrol counterparts. With all the weight in the centre and low down, it does feel relatively planted and ride comfort is somewhat decent too.

Having a pootle in ECO allows your range to increase by 9km, whereas when you change up to Sport, it falls by 10km or so. MG Pilot’s Forward Collision Warning also came into play when the car Infront decided to stop suddenly. Visibility front and rear is good, as is rear three quarter vision, and you sit quite high up.

The ZS EV is at its best when left in Sport mode. While not being the most neck snapping EV around, you will cover ground at a more than half decent rate. The steering weights up and, believe it or not, you can actually have fun in it. Its no thrill ride, but enough for a wee chuckle.

So, is the cheapest EV for sale in New Zealand worth a second look? Well when you consider it marks the entry point for new EV’s in New Zealand, undercutting the new Nissan Leaf by $11k, if you want your money to go further with a plug-in electric family commuter with a tonne of kit, the ZS EV proves itself to be a good option. Sure, it is still a bit rough around the edges, but you won’t find a better new EV for less than $50k.

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