Last updated on March 9th, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Electric vehicles have garnered a reputation among some as being an expensive alternative, namely in the larger-sized vehicle segment. MG, however, wants to buckle that trend with its all-electric SUV, the ZS EV.
The British company, which was known by the name of Morris Garages (or M.G. Car Company Limited), was acquired by SAIC Motor in 2007, formerly the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, after the latter company merged with Nanjing Automobile Group, one of China’s oldest automakers.
The now Chinese state-owned manufacturer has completely revitalised the MG brand, which saw its first model in the UK for 16 years launched in June 2011. Fast-forward to Q4 2019, MG announced its first-ever fully electric vehicle. Since its arrival, MG has sold 659 ZS EVs.
MG ZS EV review: Price and options
The MG ZS EV is available in two trims: Excite and Exclusive. They start from £24,995 and £26,995 (after PiCG), respectively. To further incentivise customers, MG offers a staggering £2,500 off the list price, which brings the price down to £22,495 and £24,495, respectively.
Both models are available in four colours: Arctic White (at no additional cost), Black Pearl (+£545), Pimlico Blue (+£545) and Dynamic Red (+£695).
As standard, both come with 17″ diamond-cut alloys (215/50 R17), keyless entry, rear parking sensors, an 8″ infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a whole host of safety features such as Lane Departure Warning and Active Cruise Control. Pretty impressive.
The Exclusive model, which comes with a two-grand premium, adds the following: a panoramic glass roof, silver roof rails, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, an electrically adjustable driver seat, leather-style upholstery, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, an odour and pollutant filter for the air-con, a rear parking camera, a six-speaker audio system with 3D Sound, and further bolsters its safety credentials with blind-spot detection (BSD) and rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), which helps with reversing out of a parking space.
That’s a whole lot of bang for your buck! Better still, the whole MG range is backed by a seven-year / 80,000 miles, fully transferrable, manufacturer’s warranty – that includes the battery, too.
At the time of writing, there are no other all-electric SUVs that comes remotely close to the ZS EV’s asking price. Its rivals, such as the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric start from £34,495 and £35,100, respectively.
WhichEV received the MG ZS EV Exclusive in a Dynamic Red finish for review.
MG ZS EV review: Exterior aesthetics
From the exterior, the MG ZS EV doesn’t look like a ‘budget’ option; if anything, the SUV has an eye-catching design – from the vehicle’s front grille and angel headlights to the five-spoke 17″ alloys that give the car a fresh, modern look.
The Exclusive model adds a panoramic sunroof, which brings in a lot of additional light inside the vehicle’s cabin; if you’d prefer to block out sunlight, there’s an electronically adjustable sunshade and furthermore, if you want to open the glass window, you can do so at the press of a button. As for the top-mounted rails, they facilitate the use of roof racks, so you can transport additional goods or equipment.
Elsewhere, the Type 2 (plus CCS) charging port resides underneath the front-mounted MG badge. It’s easily accessible, although, if you’re using a public charger, you’ll want to ensure your cable can stretch from the side of the road to the front of the vehicle; most EVs have their charging port located by the C-pillar, instead.
MG ZS EV review: Interior and features
The interior of the vehicle is similarily impressive – despite the SUV’s price, there’s nothing obnoxious or that incites a negative feeling. In fact, the ZS EV’s cabin design is well thought out. For example, the steering wheel has media controls on the left and buttons to interact with the instrument cluster on the right. While this might sound logical, other manufacturers seem to mix and match these controls, making things a little more cumbersome when used on a daily basis.
The analogue instrument cluster is equally effective: there’s a speedometer on the left; an LCD display at the centre which displays key information such as remaining range or can be used to visualise safety features such as Active Cruise Control (ACC); while on the right, there’s a power efficiency indicator, and under it, a battery level. It’s all logical.
The same could be said about the centre console, where there’s a rotary gear selector – press it to put the vehicle in park, rotate it left or right to access reverse, neutral and drive. As a result, three-point turns are extremely easy to execute.
In front of the dial are three levers: one to flick through the driving mode (Eco, Normal and Sport), the next one is dedicated to regenerative braking (Level 1, 2 and 3) – it’s denoted with KERS, which stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System; and the third one is to quickly check the SUV’s remaining charge through the instrument cluster.
Above these levers, you’ll find physical temperature controls; in the Exclusive model, there’s a button to turn on the heated front seats – unlike other vehicles, however, it’s only an on or off switch, there aren’t different levels of heat available.
When the vehicle’s climate controls are adjusted, the speed of the fan and temperature are indicated through the 8″ infotainment system. Unfortunately, the display and its operating system are excruciatingly slow to respond; there’s a delay between adjusting the physical knobs and the visuals appearing on-screen.
The entire infotainment system needs a rethink, as there are no quick-access buttons, touch sensitivity is poor where it often requires you to press quite hard, while accessing certain sub-menus, such as your smartphone’s media seem illogical.
On the plus side, the system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while in the Exclusive model, the 8″ display also shows the rear parking camera; this only triggers when you’ve put the ZS EV in reverse. Elsewhere, there’s a five-band equaliser, which can be used to alter the vehicle’s sound signature. As standard, the Excite comes with a four-speaker audio system, while the Exclusive adds two additional speakers and integrates a virtual 3D surround sound.
Read our detailed review of the audio system, here.
MG ZS EV review: Comfort and storage space
If you’re looking to connect your smartphone to access Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you’ll find two USB Type-A ports under the centre console (directly under the physical temperature controls). A 5V cigarette lighter port also resides here, and a non-slip pad makes it convenient to store your valuables.
There’s also a smaller storage area located between the gear selector and the temperature controls. Unfortunately, the pad is too small, where if you wish to place a smartphone vertically or want it plugged in, you’ll find your phone won’t fit properly.
By the vehicle’s centre armrest, there’s a small storage department and two cup holder spaces, which are concealed by a drawable plastic cover. As for storage space, each of the vehicle’s four doors will fit a 500 ml bottle with ease.
At the back, there’s 448 litres of storage capacity and a separate compartment in the boot where you can store your cables and tyre repair kit. Fold-down the rear seats and there’s 1,375 litres of space at your disposal. That’s enough for several large-sized luggage or two mountain bikes. There’s no frunk (front-loading trunk) compartment, rather, the vehicle’s motor. By comparison, the VW e-Golf has 341 litres of space and 1,231 litres with the seats folded down.
On the whole, the MG ZS EV is spacious, where tall individuals won’t have any issues getting in or out of the vehicle. There’s plenty of legroom and the seats are comfortable, too.
Read next: Volkswagen e-Golf audio review
MG ZS EV review: Performance
While the seats are cushiony and provide a degree of adjustment, the vehicle’s ride height is overly exaggerated, namely for the driver. All of the seats seem elevated, which is the effect of having the batteries lined along the vehicle’s floor.
It’s also somewhat surprising to find the MG ZS EV has a rather stiff suspension; it’s like being on a see-saw when going over speed bumps. It’s not as bad as the BMW i3, however, but given the SUV has been designed to be a “family-friendly electric car”, I’d have expected a smoother ride. On the plus side, the SUV remains planted when cornering around country lanes.
Speaking of handling, the MG ZS EV is a joy to drive; no matter if the SUV is set to Eco, Standard or Sport mode, its accelerator responds extremely well while the brake has a soft-press pedal, which makes it easy to come to a standstill without abruptly stopping.
The regenerative braking methods, namely Level 3, encourages the use of a one-pedal approach. Of course, if you find it too harsh, it can be dialled down. A word of warning, however: if you’re fully charged, the KERS won’t be in operation and thus the vehicle won’t slow down on its own – logically, there’s nowhere for the recouped energy to go when the battery is fully topped up. Thankfully, MG has integrated a warning through the instrument cluster to remind you to use the brake pedal. Smart thinking.
When it comes to raw performance, the ZS EV manages to get up to 62mph in around 8.5s, where the front-mounted synchronous motor dispatches 105 kW (143 hp) of power and 353 Nm of torque. The SUV’s top speed is limited to 87mph, although, that shouldn’t be a problem as it’s past the UK’s legal speed limit.
As for road noise, the 17″ diamond-cut alloys that come fitted with 215/50 R17 tyres, tend to send a fair bit of road noise into the vehicle’s cabin. It also seems the SUV has a poor drag coefficient, as a lot of air can be heard deflecting off the vehicle’s A-pillars and front wing panels.
In terms of driving range, the MG ZS EV has a quoted WLTP Combined Cycle of 163 miles and a city rating of 232 miles. In WhichEV’s tests, the SUV didn’t last as long; realistically, you’ll get around 140-150 miles with mixed driving (urban plus motorway combined). Here, both the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric offer a more consistent and longer driving range.
The 44.5 kWh battery pack supports a 50 kW CCS charge, which thanks to a rapid charger, will be able to recharge to 80% in around 40 minutes. More conventional 7 kW Type 2 chargers will take 6.5 hours to charge till full.
MG ZS EV review: Safety
The MG ZS EV scores 5/5 in Euro NCAP’s rigorous safety tests: the vehicle managed to get a 90% score in adult occupancy and an impressive score for child occupants (85%).
As standard, the SUV includes the following:
- Active emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection; where the SUV will automatically detect danger and perform an emergency stop if you’ve taken your eyes off the road.
- Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), which attempt to keep you driving somewhat hands-free, although, the system will play audible warnings if you have your hands off the wheel for more than 10-15 seconds.
- Traffic jam assist, which involves automatic accelerating and braking.
- Intelligent speed limit assist; the system detects the road’s speed limit and will notify you if there’s an upcoming change.
The Exclusive model adds Blind Spot Detection (BSD), which works on both side mirrors; and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA), which helps while reversing out of a parking space – the SUV will notify you of any oncoming danger you might not have yet spotted.
MG ZS EV review: Verdict
The MG ZS EV isn’t quite perfect: it has a slow infotainment system, has audible road noise, and has a rather stiff suspension. However, considering the SUV can be yours from £22,495, it’s hard to complain; it’s fun to drive, offers plenty of room, is stylish inside and out, and has all the right credentials to be your next family-sized vehicle.
If you want a longer driving range or a more premium infotainment system, you’ll have to fork out an additional £12,000 on a rival’s vehicle; if you are to sacrifice on space for a smaller-sized hatchback, you’ll still have to pay a small premium. Truly, it’s a no-brainer. If you’re on a budget, want to go electric and want a larger-sized vehicle, there’s nothing on the market like the MG ZS EV.
MG ZS EV
The MG ZS EV might not have the best infotainment system, but it's otherwise a fantastic family-oriented SUV.
- Extremely affordable
- Spacious interior
- Eye-catching design
- Slow infotainment system
- Hardened suspension
- Audible road noise inside the cabin