Test Drive: The New MG ZS
Ian Lamming is on a charge in the new fully electric MG ZS
“I’ve just ordered an electric but I daren’t tell you which one in case you laugh,” says my friend.
When she finally admits it I smile, not laugh, because it’s probably the only EV I would buy myself.
I’ve been struggling with the whole EV thing since I started testing them, not because they aren’t great to drive, but because of the malarky around charging.
My mindset was changed the other day when a contact helped put them in context by pointing out that the current crop of vehicles are little more than prototypes, testbeds of a new technology that will be flawless in years to come.
The problem is we have all become spoilt children taking for granted the supreme reliability of the internal combustion engine. We fully expect to climb into our cars every day and reach journey’s end without any hiccups, forgetting how often we used to break down in vehicles of yesteryear.
So, back to the car in question which my friend is waiting to collect. It’s the new MG ZS EV and one of the best things about it is that it puts an end to the common complaint that EVs are too expensive, because it isn’t.
Money aside, it’s also a great vehicle to drive. I’m on a family errand. Taking my teenage son to a sleepover (yeah, right, I’m sure he’ll get plenty of sleep) 88.8 miles away and collecting him the following day. I could go via the motorway and fast A roads but that would eat the charge so I head cross-country along very quiet minor roads and, you know what, the MG is absolutely in its element and so am I, loving the drive.
One of the reasons I can enjoy myself so much is because at the start, fully charged, the ZS offers a range close to 270 miles – that’s impressive by any standard.
Secondly, as you drive along it, allows spirited use of the throttle and seriously good reserves of torque, without the range plummeting. That’s because it is fitted with KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) which sticks charge back in the battery as soon as you lift off, even more if you brake. So the on/off style of energetic driving actually suits the car and the driver as well.
The minor roads are a bit pothole strewn and in places suffering from subsidence but the suspension on the ZS does a fine job in not just soaking it all up but controlling the medium size SUV. It has excellent poise and high levels of grip. Add in super sharp steering and it is an agile car that thrives on hard driving. There is bags of poke for safe overtakes making the MG a perfect tool for swiftly going cross-country.
ZS is an attractive car from all angles and it’s great to see any vehicle sporting the hexagonal MG badge. The front end catches the eye because, as there’s no engine in there and therefore no need for cooling, the normal honeycomb grille is solid and colour-matched as well.
The interior is great too being spacious and well-appointed with attractive dash, decent touchscreen and buttons for primary functions.
It’s not all perfect but MG is aware of the shortcomings and working on the glitches. My phone, Bluetoothed to the infotainment centre, got stuck on a call and was only released when I turned the iPhone off.
ZS EV takes a charge overnight surprisingly well from the mains and is OK on a Fastned rapid charger but it hates the overly-powerful Instavolt machines and shuts down after adding just one mile to the range. MG knows they do that and are working on the programming.
In another quirk it also refuses to spit out its charger, like a petulant child, unless the car is fully charged. In that case you have to pop the bonnet and look behind where the charging point reappears inside the engine bay. You’ll find a black ring-pull which you tug and the socket is released. MG is working on that too.
ZS EV boasts loads of interior space, making it ideal for people and their clobber. There is generous shoulder, leg and headroom a full-sized boot, with hidden storage areas, a split-level boot and practical features to keep items secure.
In the cabin there’s a panoramic, sliding Sky Roof creating a cheery, bright and airy atmosphere.
MG ZS is one of the easiest EVs on the market to live with and certainly one of the cheapest too – so whose laughing now?
Engine: MG ZS EV
Top speed: 108mph
Range: 270 miles
CO2 g/km: 0
Price: from £28,495.00