MG ZS EV Review

The MG ZS EV gives you SUV practicality and good battery range for a cost that undercuts many smaller electric cars – it's outstanding value for money.

Published: 17 November 2022

  • MG ZS EV review

Summary

If you’re after a compact electric SUV that’s as cost-effective as they come, take a look at the MG ZS EV. Value for money is a big part of its appeal but you also get a long warranty, a great battery range, lots of standard features and a roomy interior. Some rivals feel a bit more sophisticated, but very few give you so much for so little money.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Big boot
  • Good battery range

Cons

  • Interior less plush than some rivals
  • Unremarkable to drive
  • Incompatible with the fastest chargers
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

All versions of the ZS EV have a touchscreen infotainment system, which features sat nav as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone connectivity. It’s not the flashiest or fastest system but it’s easy to understand. Cars sold new from late 2021 have a 10.1-inch screen, while earlier models have an 8-inch unit. Those earlier cars have shortcut buttons below the screen to jump between features, which we think is actually easier than in cars that do everything through the touchscreen. Later cars also have a digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel, rather than traditional dials.

Comfort

You and your passenger should find the ZS EV comfortable enough for long journeys. The driver’s seat adjusts for height, the steering column adjusts for reach and height, and all the seats are comfortable.

Quality

If you’re picky, you’ll notice that the quality of interior materials isn’t quite as plush as in some of the MG’s rivals – a concession to its very affordable price. MG gave the ZS EV a facelift in late 2021 with a more contemporary exterior, although the interior wasn’t affected, save for the infotainment system mentioned above.

Overall, MG doesn’t feel as classy as a Kia e-Niro (later called the Niro EV), but it’s nicer inside than a Renault Zoe or a Nissan Leaf.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

Considering its relatively low price, the MG ZS EV gives you a lot of interior space. Compare it to similarly priced electric cars such as the Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf and the inside is much roomier. It’s even better than similarly sized but pricier cars such as the Kia e-Niro, and has lots of headroom and legroom in the front and the back. Four adults should have no issues fitting into the ZS EV, although the back middle seat is a bit of a squash if there are five of you. Short of the particularly spacious (but non-electric) Skoda Karoq, very few cars of this type have more room inside.

You can easily fit a bottle of water in the ZS EV’s front and back door pockets and there’s more storage in other places inside the car. Two cupholders sit between the front seats under a sliding cover, and under the armrest is a big storage bin and a phone-size tray. You won’t find any cupholders in the back, although you do have a handy USB charging port.

Boot space

You can also buy the ZS as a petrol model. This is notable because, in some other cars, electrified versions often lose boot space because of the need to store batteries. Not so in the ZS EV, which actually has a larger boot than the other ZS models. At 470 litres in capacity, it’s very big for this type of car, and you’d have to look at the Skoda Karoq for anything larger. Travelling with a pushchair or luggage for a long weekend away should be a breeze.

Versatility

You can fold down the back seats in a 60/40 split if you want extra load space. Because the car’s batteries sit under the back seats, there’s a bit of a step up from the boot floor to the folded seat backs, so the load space isn’t quite flat. However, an adjustable boot floor can be raised to smooth things out. You can use the space under that adjustable floor to store the ZS’s charging cables, or lower it for maximum depth. You don’t get hooks to hang shopping bags upright, as you do in some rivals, but you do get elastic storage nets to stop things rolling around.

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Driving

Driving experience

The ZS EV is made for comfort and convenience – it isn’t a car that you’re likely to take for a drive just for the fun of it. Some rivals can offer that temptation, but you’ll pay more for the privilege. What the ZS EV does deliver is fine – it could feel a bit more comfortable on bad road surfaces, and there’s a fair bit of road and wind noise at higher speeds. Some rivals feel a bit more stable through the bends but there’s nothing about the way the MG drives that’s bad.

While some SUVs try to give a bit of a sporty vibe to the driving experience there’s no such pretence from the ZS EV. Keep things at a cruise and it’s comfortable enough for long journeys and light steering makes it really good for running errands around town.

Performance

Whichever version of the  ZS EV you’re considering, you get the kind of smooth, nippy acceleration you expect of an electric car. Battery range depends on the age of the car – pre-2021 models have an official maximum of 163 miles, while post-2021 models have a range of either 163 miles or 273 miles depending on whether you go for the standard or long-range model. All three give you nearly identical performance. Each feels sprightly around town and has enough oomph to quickly get up to speed on the motorway. Some rivals have a bit more power, but we doubt you’ll complain. As with all electric cars, there’s no manual gearbox, so no gear shifting to worry about.

If you want to tow, the ZS EV is rated to haul up to 500kg. That won’t be enough for a caravan, but will be able to cope with a small trailer.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

The ZS EV is fully electric, with no engine to produce polluting exhaust emissions. That means there’s no car tax to pay and you get free entry into urban clean air zones.

While recharging an electric car battery tends to be more affordable than filling up with fuel, not every electric car uses electricity at the same rate. Just like petrol or diesel cars, some are more efficient than others. Early ZS EVs should get around 3.6 miles/kWh, while post-2021 cars get 3.1 miles/kWh, according to official figures. The most efficient electric cars, for comparison, will get about 4.5 miles/kWh.

Charging the ZS EV battery at home using a wallbox charger at 3.7kW will take just under 16 hours from empty to full, or about 8 hours if you have a faster 7.4kW charger. The ZS EV can cope with a maximum charge speed of 75kW, and a rapid charger will top it up from 10% to 80% in just under 45 minutes. Some of the ZS EV’s rivals can cope with faster charging speeds, which is worth noting if you’ll be doing a lot of longer journeys, as you’ll need to plan your charging stops.

Value for money

Value for money is the ZS EV’s biggest selling point. New or used, it’s priced remarkably low for its size and while it’s not the best car of this type, there’s not much that gives you more for your money. A newer model, with its extended battery range and upgraded features, will probably hold its value slightly better when you come to sell it on, but you’ll pay more for it up front.

Reliability & Warranty

MG sells cars in relatively low numbers in the UK and its cars don’t often appear on independent reliability surveys. On the plus side, MG offers an impressive seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty on the ZS EV, which is better than lots of the competition. The battery falls under the same warranty and MG will repair or replace it if it drops below 70% of its as-new performance. That means that used ZS EVs will have official support for some time to come.

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Safety

Safety features

The non-electric MG ZS was given an underwhelming three-star rating from independent safety organisation Euro NCAP, but extra features in the ZS EV bumped that up to the maximum five stars. Included as standard is a suite of features called MG Pilot, which bundles together systems such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, as well as blind-spot warning. This means braking and accelerating is done automatically unless you intervene. There are two Isofix child-seat mounts on the outer back seats.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

MG ZS EVs sold new until late 2021 came with a choice of two trim levels – Excite or Exclusive. In late 2021 the ZS EV was updated with new battery options, a new look inside and out (slimmer headlights and no front grille) and new trim levels – SE, Trophy and Trophy Connect, although the Trophy Connect was discontinued in mid-2022.

The Excite model of MG ZS EV might be the entry-level model but it’s loaded with lots of features. As standard, you’ll get 17-inch alloy wheels and keyless entry, which means you don’t need to blip a key fob to unlock the car – just keep the key in your pocket and pull the handle. Air con and cruise control are included, as are rear parking sensors and an infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Exclusive model added roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, electric heated and folding door mirror, and synthetic leather upholstery on the seats. The front seats are heated – great on cold winter mornings – and you get a beefed-up sound system with extra speakers. You’ll also have a rear parking camera to make manoeuvring simpler.

The later SE model is the most basic of the refreshed ZS EVs, but it also has loads of features included: adaptive cruise control, bright LED headlights, a 360-degree parking camera and the larger 10.1-inch touchscreen with sat nav.

Upgrading to the Trophy model will get you a panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charging and electric driver-seat adjustment.

The Trophy Connect model is the top-of-the-range ZS EV, and includes a system called iSmart. This lets you use a phone app to connect to your car so you can pre-set the air con so it’s cool or warm when you get in. You can also check whether the car is locked, find out how much charge is left in the battery and log where you parked. It also can help you schedule your battery charging to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates.

Engines

The earlier ZS EV has an electric motor with a power figure of 141bhp and a 44.5kWh battery, for an official range of 163 miles on a single charge. These cars will be more affordable than the later models, but if you want a bigger battery range, you’ll need a ZS EV sold new after November 2021.

The latest MG ZS EV is available as a standard or Long Range model. The standard car has a 51.1kWh battery, 174bhp and a maximum official range of 198 miles. The Long Range version has a 72.6kWh battery, 154bhp and a maximum official range of 273 miles.

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