Living in electric dreams
We drove the petrol MG ZS in 2018 & concluded that, at it’s price point, it really was a bit of a bargain. Twelve months on & MG have bought an electric version of the ZS out & have already taken over 2,000 forward orders. This really is no surprise considering, that like it’s petrol brethren, it’s much cheaper than the competition, in this case the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona EV & KIA e-Niro.
There’s also more good news. Thanks to MG’s sister firm Roewe, selling 140,000 EVs in 2018 & access to a Chinese battery factory that can supply up to 300,000 vehicles per year, MG with the ZS EV are unlikely to suffer the same battery supply problems that have hindered supply of the Korean brands. So, if you order an MG ZS, you will probably get one sooner rather than later.
But before we get too carried away, the electric MG does though come with a caveat, it’s range. Where both Korean models thank’s to their larger battery capacity, will easily achieve 220 miles on a single charge & 270 miles if you’re super careful, the MG claims a range of only 163 miles. Plainly with only 44.5kWh battery, it’s was always going to be lower, as the Koreans largest battery offers 64kWh, but even so, it’s pretty much on a par with the latest 40kwh Nissan Leaf for range.
The ZS battery powers a single electric motor, producing 141bhp and 353Nm of torque which like all electric cars, gives you super-fast acceleration & a 0-62mph time of just 8.5 seconds. Top speed though, is only 87mph, but since most electric cars beg to driven at under 70mph, that’s not really an issue.
MG have hidden the charging port behind the MG badge on the front grille & when you plug in, the ZS EV is compatible with 50kW rapid charging. This allows around four fifths of the battery capacity – 130 miles- to be replenished in 40 minutes.
The ZS EV is offered in two trim levels; Excite, which comes with keyless entry, air-con, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors, an 8″ infotainment system, DAB & Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. It also features some decent safety gear, including, Lane Departure Warning, front collision warning, adaptive cruise control & traffic jam assist with braking.
We tested the range topping Exclusive, which is £2000 more than the Excite. This adds a panoramic opening glass sunroof, roof rails, heated front seats, a rear parking camera, electric door mirrors & leather effect upholstery. Safety wise, the Exclusive also comes with blind spot detection & rear cross traffic alert.
Plenty of room for your cables
Looks-wise, the ZS is okay, rather it looks like pretty much all of the other generic cars in it’s class. Save for the savvy styling of the Toyota C-HR & Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, every small SUV seems to have been built from single template including electric versions.
Inside the ZS, there’s actually plenty of space for five adults with good head & legroom in the rear. Storage wise, there’s a couple of useful cup holders & door pockets but, the glove box is letterbox-shaped & small. The switchgear is sensibly located & the infotainment touchscreen is easy to use, as well as offering a really good SatNav system, with great map graphics.
On the downside the quality is middling, with all of the plastics feeling a bit hard to the touch. There’s only one USB socket, with none on offer in the back, although on the plus side, there are a couple of nicely designed circular air vents. The leather seats are also a little hard to sit on & the dashboard fit & finish is still some way short of what you’d find in the Korean & Japanese competition.
Having said all that, it’s really rather good to drive especially on the motorway. It’s quiet as well, even in the pouring rain wind & road noise isn’t too intrusive. To liven things up, there are three drive modes & to add a bit of fun, you can exit Eco mode & try Sport, which gives you a bit more power, or you can sit on the fence & choose Normal.
If you’re driving on smaller roads, the ZS EV handles pretty well. It’s not exciting nor engaging, just comfortable & easy to drive. The instant torque is fun & you can select the level of brake energy recuperation from a toggle toggle switch near the base of the centre console. This allows you to choose the level of brake energy recuperation when you lift off the throttle & works, as it does in the competition, very well. It goes without saying that in traffic & in town the electric MG is brilliant ! Electric cars are made for the city.
Brilliant in town it may be, but what’s really good about the ZS EV, is it’s asking price. In Excite trim it cost’s just £28,495 before the £3,500 Government plug-in car grant, easily undercutting the current crop of mid-range family EV’s in the market. In fact it’s likely to be at a similar price point to new smaller EV’s arriving in late 2018 such as the Vauxhall Corsa-e & Peugeot-e-208. For company car drivers of course, the Treasury have decided in their infinite wisdom, to offer zero BIK on EV’s, so switching to a ZS EV becomes even more tempting.
If you’re a user-chooser & are currently caught up in a company car changeover, the choice of electric car’s may be a little baffling. In real terms, if in your regular daily driving, you only travel short distances & you can take advantage of a work or home charger to charge every day or two, then the MG ZS EV would be an excellent choice. Drive further ? Then maybe the more expensive electric Kona or Niro with their higher range would be better for you. At least there’s a choice.
What the MG ZS EV does well, is to offer what many customers want. It’s attractively priced, comes very well equipped & is a proper practical five-seat family car. By launching the ZS EV, MG have most definitely enhanced the EV sector.
An excellent budget-priced family EV 4/5