2021 MG ZS EV review

Does Australia's cheapest EV provide good value and effective emissions-free transport?

mg zs ev review
7/10Score
Score breakdown
8.0
Safety, value and features
7.0
Comfort and space
7.0
Engine and gearbox
6.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology
Things we like
  •   Zippy performance
  •   Well equipped
  •   User friendly
Not so much
  •   Dull steering
  •   No steering reach adjustment
  •   Shorter warranty than petrol ZS variants

What is the MG ZS EV?

A fully electrified version of the MG ZS small-SUV, the ZS EV is the most affordable new battery electric vehicle (BEV) in Australia.

Retailing for $40,990 with a driveaway price of $43,990, it is significantly cheaper than its direct rival, the Hyundai Kona Electric that's priced from $62,000, as well as undercutting the Hyundai Ionic Electric (from $48.970) and Nissan Leaf ($49,990) passenger cars.

As a result, it is already one of Australia’s best-selling BEVs along with the Tesla Model 3.

The EV ZS is driven by 105kW/353Nm synchronous electric motor fed by a 44.5kW battery pack that can be charged by AC or DC chargers.

What is the MG ZS EV like to live with?

This has a ‘my first BEV’ feel to it, which isn’t a bad thing as it provides electric car novices with an almost seamless transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

While some EVs offer a bunch of displays showing power distribution and the battery status during driving and charging, the MG only tells what you really need to know such as the remaining battery range, battery consumption rate, and battery level.

The clutter-free cabin is well designed, though there are some hard plastic surfaces on the doors and the front of the dashboard, while the top of the dash and touchpoints such as armrests are made from softer materials.

The steering wheel is wrapped in stitched leather and feels good in hand, but there is no reach adjustment so it only moves up or down. Being about average height, this didn’t really present me with too many issues, but I can imagine it would be a pain for anyone with longer legs or short arms.

Another thing I'm not a fan of is adaptive cruise control settings on a hidden stalk. It didn’t take long to get used to through trial and error, though I reckon it would be pretty difficult to master for anyone who has never driven a car with adaptive cruise control before.

The leather-appointed front seats are comfortable and heated, the driver’s seat also having six-way powered settings.

Infotainment is viewed and controlled via an 8.0-inch touchscreen mounted within the dashboard under the air vents.

It has a good sharp display but it’s mounted a little low, meaning you have to look down when following a route from the inbuilt sat-nav or navigation apps via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The interface takes a bit of getting used to and it took me a while to find the home menu button, which turned out to be the unmarked metal hub of the volume controller. But once you’re familiar with the order of things it’s easy to operate.

The rear seats are best suited to two adults but could squeeze in three for shorter trips. The good news for whoever draws the short straw and ends up in the middle seat is that there is no transmission tunnel taking up precious legroom. However, headroom is a little tight because of the sunroof.

Three children will fit easily enough and if you have very little ones there are ISOFIX child seat anchor points in the rear outboard seats and three top tethers.

Rear-seat passengers benefit from a USB socket behind the centre console and a small aperture to place a phone. Storage includes map pockets behind each front seat and small door bins.

The boot space is shallow and narrow but managed to hold a handy 359 litres, which betters the Kona Electric by 26 litres.

A battery charging cable and tyre repair kit are neatly stored below the boot floor.

What about charging and running the MG ZS EV?

The ZS EV has 44.5kWh battery, which is quite small for a BEV, the downside being that range is limited to 263km. That said, it’s handy enough for the average weekly urban commute.

On plus side, the smaller the battery the quicker it is to charge. According to MG it will take 33 hours to charge from a 240-volt/10-amp socket in your garage, though if you top up your battery often that with be a lot less.

A 7.0kW wall charger brings the full charge time to seven hours, while a 50kW DC rapid charger will get you to 80 per cent in just 45 minutes.

I charged our test car using a 50kW DC ChargeFox charger at a shopping centre when the battery was down to 34 per cent. It took 43 minutes to charge up to 100 per cent, which was about the time it took for me to finish the weekly supermarket shop.

Charging was priced at 40c/kWh, which meant the 29.18kWh top-up cost $11.67.

The ZS EV’s charging port is cleverly hidden behind the front grille and accepts CCS2 or Type-2 plugs for DC and AC charging respectively.

Official combined consumption is 18.6kWh/100km but during the week I drove the ZS EV I averaged 17.4kWh with a mix of urban and highway driving. That’s reasonably economical for an EV, though not quite as low and the Kona Electric and Nissan Leaf that consume about 14.5kWh/100km.

Despite not having an engine, the ZS EV requires servicing every 12 months or 10,000km whichever comes first, with fixed pricing set over five years averaging out to just $1602 over five years. More than half of that comes with the fourth year/40,000km major service that will set you back $827.

For some reason, the seven-year warranty that applies petrol-powered MGs does not apply to the ZS EV, which comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty as well as a separate eight-year/160,000km cover for the high-voltage battery.

What is the MG ZS EV like to drive?

The MG’s electric motor produces a relatively tame 105kW of power and 353Nm of torque, which means it doesn’t have the door-busting 3.0-second 0-100km/h acceleration of some EVs.

That said, it doesn’t have to take off like a rocket – this is a small family SUV after all. But you still get that instant take off EVs are renowned for, albeit without the downsides such torque steer or front wheel spin.

It happily gets to 100km/h from a standing start in about 8.2 seconds and has enough power in reserve to overtake and negotiate hills.

Another advantage of the smaller battery pack is less weight, meaning the ZS EV weighs just 50kg more than the petrol versions and helps maintain their handling characteristics, though body roll is quite pronounced on sharper bends.

The handling is let down by dull, indirect steering, meaning you have to give the wheel a decent shove to nurse it around bends.

Ride quality on the rudimentary front-strut and rear torsion-beam is comfortable but can be a little busy on rougher roads, though this and the and sluggish steering aren’t really issues around town.

As a no-nonsense city runabout, this little EV is in its element – it’s nimble, easy to park and it’s actually quite fun to press the start button, put the foot down and drive off.

What is the MG ZS EV like for safety?

Unlike the rest of the MG ZS range that comes with a 2017 four-star ANCAP safety rating, this electrified version was awarded five stars in 2019 due to the inclusion of ‘MG Pilot’ advanced driver assistance.

The MG Pilot technologies include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, speed sign recognition and blind-spot warning. (The petrol ZS versions now have some of those features but still hold their 2017 ANCAP rating.)

It also has six airbags including dual frontal, dual front chest protection, and side curtains.

The Verdict

Its relatively low price, simplicity and quick charging make the MG ZS EV an excellent car for anyone wishing to purchase their first electric vehicle while keeping things simple.

It unashamedly lacks some wow factor of pricier EVs such as the digital displays and impressive on-road dynamics but is true to its mission as a convenient little runabout while offering an enjoyable driving experience.

Creature comforts such as the leather trim and sunroof help take the sting out of the $40k-plus price, as will its significantly reduced running costs compared to a petrol model during the first five years.

MG ZS EV Specifications

Body: 5-door, 5-seat small SUV
Drive: FWD
Motor: Synchronous motor
Power: 105kW  
Torque: 325Nm  
Battery capacity: 44.5kWh
Charging port: CCS2/Type 2
Weight: 1532kg
Transmission: Automatic
Suspension: Front MacPherson strut/ rear torsion beam
Dimensions, L/W/H: 4314/1809/1644mm  
Wheelbase: 2585mm
Tracks F/R: 1526/1539mm
Brakes: Front ventilated discs, rear discs, regenerative braking  
Tyres: 215/50 R17  
Wheels: Alloy 17-inch  
Price: $40,990 ($43,990 drive away)

7/10Score
Score breakdown
8.0
Safety, value and features
7.0
Comfort and space
7.0
Engine and gearbox
6.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology
Things we like
  •   Zippy performance
  •   Well equipped
  •   User friendly
Not so much
  •   Dull steering
  •   No steering reach adjustment
  •   Shorter warranty than petrol ZS variants

 

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