New MG ZS EV 2021 review

The Long Range version of the facelifted MG SZ EV could be a game-changer for the fast-growing manufacturer


  • 4.0 out of 5

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    Verdict

    The new MG ZS EV still offers no-nonsense, no-frills electric motoring – just over a longer distance than before and for slightly more money. It’s a bargain EV for those prioritising range and roominess on a budget, but there are compromises to make on quality. It won’t suit everyone, but it’s an appealingly affordable electric SUV.

    This could be a sliding doors moment, not just for MG – a brand that is steadily building solid sales figures in the UK – but for Britain’s electric car market. It’s the facelifted ZS EV, a heavily revised version of MG’s compact electric SUV that arrives with some updates usually associated with an all-new car, not a mid-life refresh.

    It doesn’t look hugely different, with a new, smarter front grille joined by updated headlights, a fresh rear bumper and a revamped colour palette. It’s still very much an amalgamation of common small family SUV design themes, but it’s what’s underneath that counts. That’s because while the old ZS EV was only available with a 44kWh battery enabling 163 miles of range, this new version offers two choices.

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    • A 51kWh car will come early next year offering 198 miles of range and a cost likely in line with the pre-facelift model’s price tag of around £25,000. But arriving in MG showrooms at the end of November is this 72.6kWh Long Range version.

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      On paper, it takes the ZS into entirely new territory. Up to 273 miles of range is claimed, and this facelifted model is priced from £28,495 after the £2,500 plug-in car grant – or £319 a month on a typical three-year, 10,000-mile per annum PCP deal with a 10 per cent deposit and a £1,500 contribution from MG. The figures really are a big pull, because similarly sized electric SUVs such as the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e cost more, and also won’t get you nearly as far on a full charge.

      An electric motor with 154bhp and 280Nm of torque drives the front axle, a slight rise in power but a decrease in peak torque over the previous model. The new ZS’s battery only contributes an additional 10kg to the kerbweight, which is good given the extra range that’s on offer.

      With a 98 per cent charge, we saw a predicted range of 267 miles, rising to 280 miles in Eco mode. Over 127 miles of motorway, B-roads and London city streets we averaged 3.7 miles per kWh. With the battery’s usable capacity standing at 68.3kWh, it translates to a real-world range of around 252 miles, strong figures for an electric car of this size and price.

      It’s a genuine range anxiety-eliminating step for the ZS compared with the pre-facelift car, but the way it drives is hardly any different. You’ll find the ZS to be inoffensive in many ways, but outstanding in none.

      It rides softly, but it’s not smooth and fluent. It’s loosely sprung enough to avoid a ride that would be described as firm, but it still picks up bumps. The brakes could be a little more confidence-inspiring, too. The driving position is not helped by the lack of a reach-adjustable steering wheel, while on the move, the light weight and numb feel reinforces that the ZS hasn’t been developed with dynamism in mind. It’s not wayward, but isn’t quite as assuring to drive as the competition.

      But the powertrain is a stronger point. Even in Eco mode it has enough punch for town driving and more, while Normal makes throttle inputs sharper and more reactive; on the motorway it’s comfortable and quiet, if not the most serene EV out there. There’s also a Sport mode, but it doesn’t transform the ZS into a car with a fun side. Three switchable regenerative braking modes can be toggled via the KERS switch; the strongest of the trio isn’t quite resistive enough to enable one-pedal driving.

      And the ZS’s charging tech is solid but not spectacular. DC charging at up to 76kW is standard for an 80 per cent top-up in 42 minutes, while the on-board 7kW charger allows home charging in 10 and a half hours.

      Inside, there’s lots of space front and rear with good headroom available, even with the panoramic glass roof fitted as standard on our range-topping Trophy Connect test car. Boot space is 470 litres and more than enough for family life. There’s a false boot floor to store charging cables beneath, too.

      Material quality and cabin design remain mostly unchanged, with some hard plastics and fake leather telltale signs of the cost- saving measures MG has employed to offer a car with a battery this big at this price.

      The new 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is an improvement, though. It could react a bit quicker to inputs, but the menus are logical enough, and it’s sharp and bright. Choosing the Trophy Connect model adds live traffic data and weather information, plus Amazon music, but every ZS comes with this large touchscreen, digital instrumentation, and remote connectivity features via the MG iSmart app.

      The range is straightforward and well equipped. There are no options, with base-spec SE featuring sat-nav, climate control, adaptive cruise control and further MG Pilot driver-assistance features. Trophy and Trophy Connect trims add more luxurious touches, such as that panoramic roof, leather-effect upholstery and electrically adjustable heated seats.

      Model: MG ZS EV 72kWh Trophy Connect
      Price: £31,495 (incl. PICG)
      Battery/motor: 72kWh/1x electric motor
      Power/torque: 154bhp/280Nm
      Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
      0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
      Top speed: 108mph
      Range: 271 miles (WLTP)
      Charging: 76kW DC (0-80% 42mins)
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