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Cheap, spacious and all-round endearing electric version of MG's ZS soft-roader arrives as demand for battery models begins to accelerate and as the government drops benefit-in-kind tax for electric business cars

Our Verdict

MG ZS

MG's attempt to re-establish itself in the UK rests on the shoulders of the new ZS crossover, which aims to beat its rivals on space and price

  • First Drive

    MG ZS EV 2019 review

    Cheap, spacious and all-round endearing electric version of MG's ZS soft-roader arrives as demand for battery models begins to accelerate and as the govern
Steve Cropley Terminalsecurity
17 July 2019
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What is it?

Just lately, MG has been making habit of doing things well.

The Chinese-owned, British-born company has moved many a mile from its former position as a maker of roadsters for cloth-cap wearers, but its decisions to keep much of its engineering and design here in the UK and to concentrate on attractive and affordable models in popular segments has started paying dividends. Sales of the MG 3 supermini rose 47% last year while the ZS SUV soared 66%. By 2021, we’ll see three more MGs, an electric sports car and two more electrified models in popular sectors. Confidence is already rising.

For now, MG seems to have scored another bullseye with its new ZS EV, an impressively affordable battery-powered version of the soft-roader it launched last year with internal combustion power. Though it’s arriving a little later than its relatives, nearly all of the EV’s running gear is substantially the same as its predecessors.

The ZS platform was planned with electrification in mind so its steel body-chassis was designed from the first to accommodate the EV’s 141bhp electric motor in the nose (with all the required power electronics), and a water-cooled 44.5kWh battery under the floor, in a way that does not compromise seating, floor height or dual-level boot space. If you need reassurance that electric cars can be unthreatening and easy to operate, this car is the proof. Hard to believe such a spacious little battery car is so compact, and weighs in at just 1534kg.

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The range is a disappointment. In town MG’s engineers claim 231 miles, but the realistic combined range is a modest 163miles, fairly easily beaten by rivals. On the other hand, these distances will probably amply suit many of the drive-to-school applications for which this car will be chosen.

However, MG’s best card is its ZS EV pricing. There are two models, £30,495 Exclusive and £28,495 Excite. The top price falls to £26,995 with the government’s £3500 deducted, while the cheaper settles at £24,995. The Exclusive’s equipment list includes luxuries like a full package of driver aids (traffic jam assist, radar cruise and more) leather seats and a huge glass sunroof. The entry-level Excite is £2000 cheaper but still gets a large central screen with standard central sat-nav, a DAB radio and keyless entry.

There’s more: to mark the importance of this first EV debut, MG will match the £3500 government subsidy on its first 1000 sales, which brings the prices down to just £21,495 (Excite) and £23,495 (Exclusive). There’s an accompanying message about cheap running costs: servicing is half the cost of a petrol car, and electric power bought away from home costs roughly a third of diesel. MG estimates a ZS EV on a four-year PCP cycle can save its owner £6000 in fuelling and maintenance. No wonder the company’s modestly confident managers are calling this “the world’s first truly affordable, family-friendly electric car”. They also reckon that in their case, EV stands for Exceptional Value.

What's it like?

Take the pleasant, easy-driving characteristics of the ZS petrol model (one of which is currently on our fleet) and add the silence, smoothness and amazingly torquey (221lb ft) step-off of an electric car, and you have a refined but quick-responding model, small enough to make its way easily in London traffic but also notably spacious in back and boot.

We’d have liked more heft in the steering; away from the straight ahead, it feels too light and rather lifeless. And the regenerative braking, though available in three levels, isn’t quite strong enough even in its strongest setting to provide the two-pedal operation you find yourself craving when you tune into cars like these.

However, the ride is very supple over suburban bumps, and quiet despite the lack of noise from the powertrain. Its an easy and intuitive drive, the ZS EV, the kind of car that converts drivers to its ways, just by being so easy and accurate to handle. The seats are supportive and well-shaped, though the lack of reach facility on the steering column seems a bad miss.

You won’t see much on the exterior to distinguish a ZS EV from its conventional confrères, apart from a new “windmill” wheel style and an EV-only colour – Pimlico Blue – which, by its lightness and cleanliness, is meant to embody progress in electrification. There is, of course, also the lack of an exhaust tailpipe. In sum, this is a pleasant, unexceptional car, but the kind of machine well able to get under your skin.

Should I buy one?

Certainly, if you’re in the market for an affordable electric car. Its strengths are jaunty styling, plenty of equipment, ease of driving, good quality and a seven-year warranty on battery and car.

Its weaknesses are an open-roads range that doesn’t match the best and controls (especially steering) that could be improved. But the buying proposition, for electric-only customers, has to be one of the best on the market.

MG ZS EV Exclusive specification

Where London, UK Price £26,995 (including government grant) On sale September Engine Single synchronous electric motor Power 141bhp Torque 260lb ft Gearbox Single-spd automatic Kerb weight 1534kg Top speed 87mph 0-62mph 8.5sec Battery capacity 44.5kWh Range 163 miles CO2 0g/km Rivals Kia e-Niro, Renault Zoe, Hyundai Kona Electric

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Comments
41

17 July 2019

hey !! i think it will be mine ..

nice and so wonderful car, i was just surprised to see the pictures of it again ,

thanks for my website you may click here

17 July 2019

vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive. 

18 July 2019

Are we reading the same price sheet or do you need specs?

Get a grip.

Its superb value for money and didpite the shorter than ideal range will suit many commuters for less than 24K

18 July 2019
Citytiger wrote:

vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive. 

 

Just as well this comments facility enables you to remain unidentified...in terms of classification, exactly what makes you believe that they are in ANY WAY direct competitors?

 

Your post is pointless and sadly free to air.

18 July 2019
Takeitslowly wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive. 

 

Just as well this comments facility enables you to remain unidentified...in terms of classification, exactly what makes you believe that they are in ANY WAY direct competitors?

 

Your post is pointless and sadly free to air.

Oh dear, whats the matter,  are you a Hondafanboy? Perhaps you just lust after a Jazz.

This and the Honda are not direct competitors, however they offer similar performance and range, but this is far more practical, its an SUV (which apparently everyone wants), its a lot cheaper, and there will be a far shorter if any waiting list, the Honda isnt a direct competitor, because its not competitive.. 

18 July 2019
Citytiger wrote:

Takeitslowly wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive. 

 

Just as well this comments facility enables you to remain unidentified...in terms of classification, exactly what makes you believe that they are in ANY WAY direct competitors?

 

Your post is pointless and sadly free to air.

Oh dear, whats the matter,  are you a Hondafanboy? Perhaps you just lust after a Jazz.

This and the Honda are not direct competitors, however they offer similar performance and range, but this is far more practical, its an SUV (which apparently everyone wants), its a lot cheaper, and there will be a far shorter if any waiting list, the Honda isnt a direct competitor, because its not competitive.. 

I thought you were talking about the CRV. The E isn't competing with this.

31 July 2019
Citytiger wrote:

Takeitslowly wrote:

Citytiger wrote:

vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive. 

 

Just as well this comments facility enables you to remain unidentified...in terms of classification, exactly what makes you believe that they are in ANY WAY direct competitors?

 

Your post is pointless and sadly free to air.

Oh dear, whats the matter,  are you a Hondafanboy? Perhaps you just lust after a Jazz.

This and the Honda are not direct competitors, however they offer similar performance and range, but this is far more practical, its an SUV (which apparently everyone wants), its a lot cheaper, and there will be a far shorter if any waiting list, the Honda isnt a direct competitor, because its not competitive.. 

 

No interest in what you call a hondafanboy, sounds as if you made up a word at kindergarden...check out the following quote...vehicle that suddenly makes Honda latest effort look a bit pointless and very expensive...

 

Yes foolish one, these are your words that exactly replicate a direct comparison between said cars...now pay attention, do keep up.

18 July 2019

Fora Chinese , under wheeled POS? 30k?????? You;d be off your ROCKER to buy anything from MG, let alone this.

3

18 July 2019
BigMitch wrote:

Fora Chinese , under wheeled POS? 30k?????? You;d be off your ROCKER to buy anything from MG, let alone this.

...give my regards to the nineteenth century...

19 July 2019
beechie wrote:
BigMitch wrote:

Fora Chinese , under wheeled POS? 30k?????? You;d be off your ROCKER to buy anything from MG, let alone this.

...give my regards to the nineteenth century...

 

You may as well be if you buy this. Literally ANYTHING is better for the money.

3

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