► 273-mile range for less than £30k
► Good practicality
► Less good dynamically
The test drive for the new MG ZS EV begins in Marylebone, central London. Before being handed the keys, I’m invited into MG’s showroom containing some of its back catalogue, including an enchanting Woodcote Green RV8.
Next stop is MG’s design studio. Concept cars, virtual reality, clay models; the full works.
My biggest takeaway from these two timestamps of the past and future is that of course, we are in the now and it’s remarkably different looking to either.
Sixty years ago MG was making simple RWD sports cars and its future looks like it’s been zapped from a game. So why is the present generically SUV shaped?
Sales. MG finds itself at 18th place in the sales chart for this year, one place above Renault. The old model ZS EV even makes it into the top-ten bestselling electric cars in the UK for this year.
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What’s the ZS EV like?
It’s not trying anything new or extravagant. Unlike with an ID.3, you still turn it on with a button. There are switches galore. The styling – despite its bespoke EV front-end – still looks like it could be from an unlicensed game.
Official range of the big battery version (we won’t be getting the smaller battery until next year) is 273 miles.
I depart Marylebone with an indicated 280 miles worth of range in Eco mode. I cover 70 miles over two hours and return with an indicated 200 miles worth of range.
This is pretty much spot on. A genuine 250+ mile range is very good value for circa £30k. And importantly, the range indicator is spot on too.
And that’s not doing some economy trip either. That was on a mixed route, including a motorway stretch, with the different driving modes engaged.
How does it drive?
We’ll start with those driving modes. There’s Eco, Normal, and Sport. Each one dials the throttle response up or down and sets the regen braking to high or low.
You know that off-the-line thrust of an electric car? Yeh, that doesn’t happen in Eco mode. Sport improves this, but on wet and muddy roads the little 17-inch wheels struggle to deploy all 150hp.
There’s not much in the way of steering feel. It’s very light with little feedback and there’s a great deal of play to it at low speeds. Fair bit of roll too.
Slow it down for town and the MG does a good job of smoothing out potholes, but at motorway speeds it does hammer deeply into them. Wind noise at this speed is made itself heard too.
All of the semi-autonomous stuff works well enough. Certainly as good as offerings from mainstream manufacturers such as VW. Except that it can violently correct on the motorway if you even venture a little bit out of your lane. Lots of bonging too.
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And the interior?
The top-spec car I was in comes with faux leather, electric seats and everything you touch seems pretty solid and long-lasting.
Visibility is good, with a wide windscreen out front and decent-sized windows all around. Ergonomically there’s absolutely nothing scary about it at all.
However, there’s no reach-adjustable steering wheel and the cruise control stalk, in my driving position, is located in a way that I couldn’t see it at all.
The big thing to write home about here is the 10.1-inch infotainment screen. It’s slick and easy to use and while nowhere near as flash as something like Mercedes’ MBUX, it works smoothly and faultlessly. Even the in-built sat-nav is quick to react.
It even gets over-the-air updates. And you’re right, there’s already an update en route in order to improve Apple CarPlay/Android Auto usability.
MG ZS EV: verdict
Dynamically it’s not up to much but that doesn’t matter. The MG ZS has a stellar range, loads of kit, and a big deep boot.
Importantly it’s not trying too hard. It’s the electric SUV for people who just want an electric SUV. Not a posh badge. Not a sub five-second 0-62mph time. And not a two-speed transmission with a shiftable planetary gear set.
The MG ZS EV is cheaper than its rivals with better battery tech than most. That’s where MG sits in 2021 and it’s very happy with where it is.
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