First Drive: MG ZS EV
SUVs and electric vehicles are very popular with MG buyers. So what better than a car that combines the two, asks John Challen.
SECTOR Midsize SUV PRICE from £28,495 CHARGING 11kW AC/100kW RANGE 198-273 miles
With the 2030 ban on sales of ICE-powered vehicles rapidly approaching, manufacturers are in a race to overhaul their product ranges. For MG, it’s an effort that has started in earnest and is paying dividends. The Chinese-owned manufacturer now has a strong model line-up and, despite the pandemic, the past couple of years have been very fruitful for MG. At the time of writing, the latest 2021 sales figures stand at 25,290 units, up 9,162 vehicles on 2020; 56.8% growth year-on-year.
EVs have been responsible for 34.2% of MG’s total sales in 2021 – that’s a higher percentage share of any brand, excluding EV-only OEMs smart, Polestar and Tesla. So the new ZS EV has all the makings of a very successful model for MG. The outgoing model sold 11,000 units since it launched in 2018 and, despite reaching the end of its life, was still maintaining a market share of 3.3%.
As well as a new exterior look, the replacement vehicle gets bigger batteries. There will be two options: a 51kW power unit that offers a range of up to 198 miles and a 72kW battery, which enables as many as 273 miles to be covered on a single charge. On the subject of charging, using a 50kW DC charger, the new ZS EV’s battery can be replenished to 80% in one hour and three minutes, while it’s 42 minutes via a rapid charger. Using a 7kW AC charger, you’re looking at 10.5 hours.
The new car now offers an upgraded infotainment system – a 10.1-inch tablet-style widescreen that offers a clear view of navigation, audio, phone and climate settings. MG has also introduced the iSmart App, which allows remote access to the car to heat/cool/lock, etc.
Two new trim levels have been brought in – SE replaces the Excite line, while Trophy is the new name for the Exclusive range. The two ranges start (after grants) at £28,495 and £30,995 respectively. For an extra £500, customers can specify Trophy Connects, which adds live services in iSmart such as weather, traffic and Amazon Music
From a fleet point of view, MG has worked hard to improve on the ZS EV’s residual values for the previous car. It’s been a successful process, as the SE’s RV is 51%, up from 45% of the outgoing Excite model (£15,850 vs £12,800). It’s a similar story with the Trophy, with values up from the Exclusive’s 43% to 49%.
The ZS EV offers lots of nice touches such as a panoramic sunroof (Trophy and Trophy Connect), plenty of room front and rear and lots of USB ports, including one mounted near the rear view mirror, designed specifically for dashcams. The displays are very clear and the dial showing percentage of power used (positive and negative – through regenerative braking) provides entertainment in trying to keep the figure as low as possible. Dynamically, the suspension is a bit soft, but stiffens up when in Sport mode, when the car feels more like a performance car, such as its MG ZS namesake from back in the 2000s!
One of the biggest issues is noise. One of the complaint from some people about EVs is the fact they are silent, although the battery-powered ZS goes in the opposite direction and suffers from a little too much tyre and road noise making its way into the cabin. It’s exaggerated at higher speeds, but even in town, it’s still noticeable.
But that is a minor blemish on a car that is bound to win plenty of fans for its value for money and driving range.
There is no denying that MG is a brand moving in the right direction. The new ZS EV is sure to sustain that electrified upwards momentum.
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