MG ZS EV review
|Car type||Electric range||Wallbox charge time||Fast charge time|
|Electric||163 miles||6hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7kW)||40mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
Reborn under Chinese ownership, the 'new' MG brand has been active in the UK for a good few years, focusing mainly on attractively priced alternatives to more established names in the supermini and SUV classes. And with the might of Chinese parent company SAIC behind it, it's now able to offer a fully electric version of its ZS SUV, called simply the ZS EV.
Starting at just over £25,000 after the government plug-in car grant, the ZS EV's price is the first thing that grabs your attention. While the Renault ZOE offers a longer range for a similar price, as a supermini it can't come close to matching the ZS' interior or boot space, which is on par with alternatives like the more expensive Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric.
True, the MG can't match the range of those cars, returning 163 miles according to official testing, but that's very competitive with alternatives like the Nissan Leaf. And family buyers doing regular short trips and have access to a home wallbox likely won't need that sort of range.
Performance is peppy rather than blistering, with a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 87mph. Again, though, the ZS EV shows better in an urban environment, where a rapid sprint from 0-30mph is called for much more often and can be dispatched with easy verve in the MG.
The ZS EV's 44.5kWh battery will charge in under six hours from a 7kW home wallbox, while a 50kW public rapid-charging point will deliver 100 miles of range in around 45 minutes. The car can top up at both CCS and Type 2 stations, which gives access to the majority of public charge points. What's annoying is that there's no timed charging facility, to allow you to easily take advantage of off-peak tariffs, and there's no phone app connectivity, either.
The ZS EV is only offered in the higher specification levels available for the ZS, so it's well equipped whichever of the two you choose. Entry-level Excite gets 17-inch alloys, keyless entry, air-conditioning, adaptive cruise control and semi-autonomous drive mode, rear parking sensors, plus a touchscreen with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Spend £2,000 or so more on Exclusive trim and you get a large panoramic sunroof, roof rails, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats and reversing camera.
That dashboard looks smart and is well laid-out, although some of the plastics around the window switches and in other areas around the door and footwell feel cheap and scratchy, and it'd be nice if the steering wheel and seat had a broader range of movement.
The ZS is a decent family car nonetheless, with plenty of room even for two adults or lanky teens in the back, and a good-sized boot with variable floor and hidden cable storage. It's not very inspiring to drive and we wish it felt more confidence-inspiring on the motorway, but it is absolutely fit for purpose. Its strong performance in our sister title Auto Express' 2020 Driver Power survey suggests that owners agree.
The motor is as smooth and quiet as you'd expect, and makes progress through awkward traffic as easy as it can be, and while the suspension is noisy and can sometimes thump and rebound over big potholes, it's comfortable enough most of the time. Otherwise, while hardly thrilling to drive, the ZS is secure and predictable.
More annoying is the array of irritations that mar the MG in day-to-day use. The navigation can be slow to respond and doesn't allow you to search for charge points, the light that indicates when the car is charging is very hard to see in daylight, the heated seats are either on or off and get very hot very quickly, and the car honks its horn if you get out and leave the keys inside – which might be something you do regularly if you have kids.
But when it comes to the hard sums, a seven-year warranty and attractive finance rates, plus the prospect of zero tax for company-car users in the 2020/21 financial year, make the ZS EV a compelling prospect all the same. MG is one of a handful of manufacturers with a swappage scheme too, offering up to £7,280 off a ZS EV until 30 September 2020 (taking the Plug-in Car Grant into account).
For a more detailed look at the MG ZS EV, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.