MG ZS EV 2020 review: Making electric accessible

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So, you think electric cars are expensive? Think again. MG has released its very first electric car, and on face value alone, it’s stonking value. Is it any good, though? Let’s delve deeper to find out.

MG ZS EV

The price seems like a good place to start as this is the ZS EV’s biggest selling point. It’s available in two trim levels; Excite and Exclusive, which have respective prices of £25,495 and £27,995. Excite offers standard features such as 8″ touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation, and smartphone connectivity, air conditioning, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, leather steering, 17″ alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic jam assist and intelligent speed assist.

Step up to the Exclusive model, and it will add goodies such as heated front seats, leather style seats, reversing camera, panoramic roof, 6-speaker sound system with 3D sound, 6-way electronically adjustable driver’s seat, silver roof rails, electronically folding door mirrors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Ok, so that’s the price out the way? What about the vital statistics?

It’s clear that the ZS EV is cheap to buy, but what does it have to offer in regard to electric performance? Powered by a 44.5kWh battery and electric motor, the ZS EV offers 143hp and 353Nm of torque (260 lb ft), meaning 62mph comes in 8.5 seconds, and the top speed is 87mph. However, the figure you really want to know is of course the range.

MG ZS EV

The WLTP rated range is 163 miles, which is by no means groundbreaking, but at the same time it’s not shameful either. MG states that the battery can be charged from 0%-80% in 40 minutes when using a 50kW charger and it will take around 6.5 hours to charge to full from empty if you use a 7kW charger.

How does it drive?

The advantage of electric power is that the ZS EV feels nippy and responsive to drive thanks to its instantaneous torque. Attack the throttle and you’ll make progress in no time at all. There’s three driving modes to choose from; Normal, Eco and Sport. In Sport mode, the ZS feels quite sporty to drive, but it’s not the same sort of sportiness you would get from the MG of yesteryear. Mind you, those days of MG are long gone of course.

The steering has a decent enough amount of weight (especially in Sport mode) but feedback is lacking

The steering gets heavier, but it still offers little feedback, but the ZS EV is unlikely to be bought for its handling characteristics. Mind you, having said that, it’s not too bad in the corners. The body roll is pretty well controlled, and the steering feels quite direct, but I don’t like the brakes.

They feel like they are either on or off, and the feedback through the pedal isn’t as progressive as I would like it to be. Some others have have praised the ZS EV for its braking feel, but I’m afraid I have to disagree, it just feels a bit too sharp for my liking.

This car does of course has regenerative braking, which has three settings of strength, light, moderate and heavy. In heavy mode you’re likely not to need the brakes as much, it feels quite similar to one pedal set up in the Nissan Leaf actually.

Let’s speak about the ride; like the other new generation MGs I’ve driven, I find the ride to be on the firm side, and at lower speeds, it’s quite busy. It’s not a big enough issue to warrant avoiding this car, but it’s not the most comfy SUV I’ve driven. Mind you, the e-Niro is quite firm in its set up, so has the Nissan Leaf, come to think of it. One the plus side, the seats offer decent enough comfort, although if I’m going to picky, I would say the headrest is quite firm.

Refinement isn’t the strongest area of the ZS EV especially as the lack of engine noise means it’s easier for road noise to enter the cabin. Mind you, having said that, it’s never at point where it’s deafening. Wind noise is most definitely audible at motorway speeds, so you’ll probably want increase the speaker volumes, or speak a bit louder to hold a conversation. On the flip side, the electric motor is not shouty and it’s not intrusive when it’s working away.

MG ZS EV

Ask Aaron

With a car of that range with nowhere to plug in other than public charge network is it feasible to own yet?

Well I suppose it depends on usage, if you’re daily journeys are short then I’d say yes, this would be feasible.

Can it be somewhat entertaining to drive?

Don’t get me wrong, the performance is impressive, but I wouldn’t say this is a particularly fun car to drive.

Is it practical, though?

You’d think that the electric version of the ZS would offer a smaller boot, what with all of the batteries in the vehicle. Well believe it or not, the ZS actually has a bigger boot. It’s 470 litres compared to the 448 offered in the petrol version. Not only is the boot bigger than its petrol sibling, but it’s also bigger than the Kia e-Niro, Nissan Leaf, and Hyundai Kona Electric.

If you need more space, you can of course fold down the 60/40 rear seats to give you 1,100 litres worth of space. The seats don’t fold flat, which may irk some buyers, but on the plus side, the boot floor is adjustable. There’s also a cubby on either side of the boot with netting to stop the items flying about whilst you’re on the move.

Step in to the rear you’ll find that the space is pretty decent, even if you’re a taller person sat behind a taller driver. Speaking of which, as always, the driver’s seat was set for me, I’m 6 foot 2. Even so, the knee room behind isn’t disgraceful, and the legroom is pretty agreeable as well. Headroom may be tight for some because of the panoramic roof, but for the majority, it should be just fine.

I think you’d struggle to fit three adults in the rear, but it should be just fine for two adults or three children. On the plus side, the floor is pretty flat in the rear, so your middle passenger shouldn’t struggle too much for space.

Get in to the front and you’ll find it pretty easy to get a comfortable driving position, even though the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach. On the plus side, the driver’s seat, as I mentioned earlier, is 6-way electronically adjustable. There’s also a fair few cubbyholes dotted around, making it practical for day-to-day use.

Safety

Let’s finish things off with safety, an area which will be important to family buyers. Thanks to standard features such as 6 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, and speed limiter, the ZS EV was awarded 5 stars by Euro NCAP. The Exclusive model adds to this with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, but no matter which model you go for, you’ll get a 7 year warranty as standard.

Final thoughts

Like the petrol version, the MG ZS EV is not a perfect car, and it does have one or two flaws, but when you consider the amount of value you’re getting it’s really difficult to complain. Ok, it’s not that great to drive, but at the same time, it’s not truly woeful.

The interior is better than previous MG offerings, it offers a good amount of kit as well as generous space, so I definitely think the ZS EV will be an appealing buy to families looking to make the transition in to EV motoring. The ZS EV? It makes electric accessible.

Car Obsession Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Offers generous amount of kit
  • Practical with a good size boot
  • 7 year warranty as STANDARD
  • High amount of safety equipment

Cons:

  • Not the most refined
  • Range is not the highest
  • Not as rewarding to drive as some rivals

Rivals

2019 Kia e-Niro ReviewKia e-Niro

The Kia e-Niro is, I’d say, the best electric car I’ve driven to date, and it has a lot to offer. It offers decent value, but not quite as much as the ZS EV. It also has a smaller boot, but I’d ague the car looks better and it has a significantly bigger range.

 

Nissan Leaf ReviewNissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf has been to go-to electric car for quite some time, and when it comes to popularity, it rules the roost, much like the Qashqai does on the SUV/crossover market. It offers decent value and it’s much better looking than the last model, but certain parts of the interior seem a bit dated.

 

Hyundai Kona ElectricHyundai Kona Electric

The Kona Electric is the sister car to the e-Niro, but it’s even better looking, and offers a similar amount of range, but it’s more expensive, and it’s not as practical. This is because the boot is smaller and the rear is also cramped. On the plus side, I’d say it’s the most fun to drive out of this crop of cars.

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