Happy New Year and welcome to 2021! The dawn of a new year provides the perfect opportunity for a new start or ‘ANUSTART’ for those Arrested Development fans out there.
You can wipe away the past and create something new with the future or use the past to reinvent yourself which is what MG have done. ‘MG since 1924’ it says on the plate frame of the ZS EV. Well yes but that MG was very different to this one. MG spent most of last century and a little of this one being a specialist British sportscar maker. Now, it’s owned by SAIC and makes affordable family cars. Both good in their own ways though.
The MG ZS then is an affordable practical SUV. It does everything that a modern day car of this type is meant to do. It seats five, has an infotainment system with phone connectivity and offers some safety features. What happens then when a fully electric powertrain is introduced to make it the country’s most affordable EV? It becomes even better!
The ZS EV is MG’s first foray into the electric world and they couldn’t have picked a better car than the ZS to do so. The high riding platform makes it easier to put the batteries under the floor without affecting cabin space. The previously functional engine bay now offers more than enough space for an electric motor and all the other wiring that’s needed. But don’t think that this makes it look indistinguishable from a petrol powered ZS. There are a couple of things that immediately catch your eye about this car, the Clipper Blue colour and those 17 inch ‘windmill’ wheels. The wheels aren’t just for show either, they actually serve a purpose in reducing drag. Something else that also serves an additional purpose is the front grille. The grille does take inspiration from a European car manufacturer as does the rear badge/boot hatch but we will leave that aside. Anyway, push the badge and you will find that the charging socket plugs in there, it’s hidden well but can be a bit troublesome for those with back issues.
The interior follows a similar functional pattern. The leather effect seats are quite nice to sit in and they are electronically adjustable for the driver! MG have been intelligent with how they have used the soft plastics but remember this is still an affordable car so hard plastics will dominate the cabin. The centre console houses all your standard stuff including cupholders, phone storage, stylish air vents and buttons. Firstly, the transmission is controlled by a rotary style knob which is one of many things inspired by European car manufacturers, the window switches and AC vents are others. Then there’s the three important buttons. You have the driving mode selector, the ‘KERS’ system and the battery button. The driving mode selector moves between the eco, comfort and sport modes. The battery button just shows the range on the gauge cluster, that is really all it does and you hold it for as long as you would like to see the range! Definitely one of the more characterful parts of this car. By the way, the range is also visible on the dash normally. The KERS button however is the most interesting one out of the lot. It doesn’t have anything to do with the KERS system on an F1 car but instead it controls the three regenerative braking modes.
The infotainment system is quite funky just like MG’s youthful new image. Yes, it is a bit slow but then it also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so that balances it out. You also get navigation and even better, the ability to control all the safety tech of which there is a lot! Emergency braking, bling spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and more make up the MG Pilot safety suite. That is frankly excellent in a car of this price!
Now comes the all important question of range. The ZS EV makes do with a 44.5kWhr battery which doesn’t sound like much but it allows for 267 kilometres of WLTP or real world range! That is very usable even for someone like me that commuted 48km per day. Not just that, the ZS will deliver 353 Nm of instant electric torque. The power figure isn’t bad either with 105kW coming from the single motor. The ZS EV is an extremely comfortable daily driver, it gets up to motorway speeds without breaking a sweat and will quite happily stay there. It feels well weighted through the corners thanks to those low batteries and the ride is noteworthy. We drove the car over a rough road and it soaked up the bumps with ease. Something that is thanks in part to the 17 inch wheels, while the car may have looked better on larger wheels, it would not have been worth compromising on the ride quality.
The MG ZS EV is a brilliant all-rounder. It is spacious, comfortable, well-equipped, has a usable real world range and an irresistible price tag. We chatted to some other EV owners and they all wanted one, they simply couldn’t believe how good the ZS was for the price. While there is still something to be desired in terms of creature comforts, when have you ever seen a sub-50k EV that is this usable!