2022 MG ZS EV review: First drive

A raft of updates gives the electric ZS a new face and longer driving range, as well as a more refined cabin.

Dave Humphreys
Dave Humphreys
Contributor
Published
PROS
  • Exterior updates
  • Extended battery range
  • Choice of battery size
CONS
  • Lacks all-wheel drive
  • Average boot space
  • Modest performance

Since launch, the MG ZS EV has been one of the most affordable electric SUVs on sale, and now the company has revealed an updated model.

Not only does it score improvements in the styling department, the ZS also gets a revamped interior with a better infotainment system along with, crucially, a larger battery that extends driving range to up to 440 kilometres.

Ahead of the new model reaching Australian shores during the second half of 2022, we’ve slipped behind the wheel of the refreshed EV in Europe to get an idea of what to expect.

How much does the MG ZS EV cost?

Currently, the pre-facelift MG ZS EV wears a sticker price of $44,990 drive-away, though we’re expecting the new model to be a little pricier.

The new model is expected to offer both Standard Range and Long Range versions, and we could possibly see multiple variants for each – rather than the all-you-can-eat single-variant strategy of the current version.

Speaking with CarExpert recently, MG Motor Australia’s product director and general manager for EVs, Danny Lenartic, said: “We’re working through that, but the plan is to yes. More models, more variants, more choice, delivering more value to the customer, so it just makes sense”.

Even with the incoming updates and improvements the ZS is still likely to remain one of the most affordable EVs in Australia. For reference, the Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Standard Range starts at $54,500 plus on-road costs.

What do you get?

Details for the revitalised ZS have not yet been confirmed for the local market but expect MG to once again focus on value and a high level of specification even if multiple trim levels make the trip Down Under.

Based on European spec, the following features will be available:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels 
  • Keyless start
  • LED headlights
  • 10.1-inch touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 360-degree parking cameras
  • Satellite navigation
  • Traffic Jam Assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors

The new model will usher in some new colour options including Brilliant Blue and Monument Silver. 

Is the MG ZS EV safe?

The current MG ZS was tested by ANCAP in 2019 where it scored a full five stars, thanks in part to the inclusion of six airbags and ten active driver safety systems that come under the ‘MG Pilot’ banner.

Available safety equipment will include: 

  • AEB with pedestrian/cyclist detection
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Traffic Jam Assist

What is the MG ZS EV like on the inside?

The overall layout of the MG ZS remains much the same inside, with a comfortable and spacious cabin.

Where the biggest changes come are the instrument cluster and centre console. The former is now an all-digital affair with a more modern look that remains simple to read at a glance.

Some manufacturers like to pack out these digital instrument displays with layers of information, but MG keeps it refreshingly simple.

New materials on the dashboard fascia include a faux carbon-fibre effect, but by far the most welcome change is the replacement of the cheap and dated-looking touchscreen with a larger, more up-to-date 10.1-inch unit. Not only does it appear more modern, but it also reacts far quicker to inputs.

The native operating system is still on the basic side, but with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay many owners won’t mind. Supplementary physical ‘piano’ keys for the climate control and music volume allow for adjustment without diverting your gaze from the road to use the touchscreen.

The vaguely flat-bottomed steering wheel is clad in leather and looks good. MG sticks with a rotary controller for selecting forward or reverse gears and our test car was equipped with a wireless charging pad in front of the shifter. Above this is a 12-volt power socket and both types of USB port (USB-A and USB-C).

Moving to the back and there is plenty of room for two adults, with three a a squeeze due to the narrowness of the centre seat. Remember this is still a ‘small’ SUV.

Still, with a fair amount of headroom and a flat floor the ZS EV should suit small families. A large panoramic sunroof also adds to the feeling of airiness and spaciousness in the second row.

When it comes to boot space, the MG can swallow up to 448 litres, while tilting the rear seats down expands cargo space to 1100 litres.

What’s under the bonnet?

The outgoing MG ZS EV mad do with a 44.5kWh (42.5kWh usable) battery good for a WLTP range of 263 kilometres. That’s fine for mostly urban commuting but not much else.

This updated ZS EV is set to be offered with a choice of two batteries – Standard Range and Long Range. The former is a 51kWh unit with an official driving range of up to 320 kilometres.

For the Long Range (as tested here), the ZS gets a 72.6kWh (68.3kWh usable) battery that MG says allows the car to cover up to 440 kilometres on the WLTP cycle, which is a considerable improvement given the bigger battery doesn’t impact interior space at all.

MG says that its peak DC charge rate of 76kW means that it can replenish the battery to 80 per cent in 42 minutes, while a full charge with a 7kW AC unit will take around 10.5 hours. The redesigned charge port is also now easier to access and has four LED indicators to show the battery’s progress.

Furthermore, the ZS supports V2L (vehicle-to-load), so electrical items can be powered directly from the car’s battery with an adaptor – like we’ve seen on the Hyundai Ioniq 5. That could also be useful for camping trips and the like.

It remains a front-wheel-drive car, with a 115kW/280Nm electric motor on the front axle. That’s slightly up on the current version’s 105kW though with less torque, and the larger battery pushing weight up to 1620kg (from 1532kg), the performance hasn’t noticeably changed.

A single-speed automatic transmission channels drive to the front wheels, and the ZS will accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 8.4 seconds with a top speed of 175km/h.

How does the MG ZS EV drive?

The MG ZS might be one of the most affordable electric SUVs on sale, but it doesn’t drive ‘cheaply’. While it’s not going to rival something like a Jaguar I-Pace or Audi e-tron for sheer dynamics or performance, the ZS works well with what it’s got.

Immediate response to the accelerator continues to be a plus of any electric car, though this time the power delivery seems better judged. 

There is still a trio of drive modes available with Sport in particular giving it even sharper response, but this is a car that’s best left in its default Normal mode for a more balanced driving experience.

If you need to drag every last kilometre from the battery there’s the Eco mode. Light and quick steering is a plus in urban terrain and there is a decent degree of visibility, helped with the introduction of a 360-degree camera system for a top-down view when parking. A good turning circle is a boon when manoeuvring into tighter spots. 

A longer range will make the MG a viable choice for more drivers than before. During our limited time with the ZS it used an average of 22kWh/100km, falling short of its official 17.8kWh/100km average, though we see no reason the MG shouldn’t get closer to that figure over a longer period of time, especially in warmer conditions.

For the most part, the MG’s suspension does a decent job of soaking up whatever gets thrown at it. Complementing the smooth ride is an impressive level of sound suppression inside the cabin.

Ambling around at urban speeds demonstrates how quiet and refined the MG is, and even breaking out onto the highway there is only minimal level of wind noise that mostly pick up around the door mirrors.

The strongest of the three different levels of energy recovery can provide close to a one-pedal driving sensation, scrubbing off quite a bit of speed as it harvests energy to go back into the battery.

Only a brief amount of time is needed to become familiar with its effectiveness, especially at lower speeds or in traffic.

How much does the MG ZS EV cost to run?

MG Australia currently offers a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on its electric cars that includes the battery, too. Drivers using their cars commercially (for Uber, for example) will be capped at 160,000km.

Since July 2021, ZS EV vehicles have service intervals of 24 months or 20,000km – whichever comes first. Pricing for the new one will be revealed closer to launch, but the current model’s first three visits are capped at $268 a pop.

As with all electric cars there are fewer serviceable items than in an internal-combustion alternative, so you could logically expect a fairly affordable figure.

CarExpert’s Take on the MG ZS EV

Good road manners and sufficient real-world performance, plus the ability to make the most of rapid charging, confirms the ZS EV is a more usable electric car than ever.

The larger battery also opens the ZS up to a wider audience now that it can travel further per charge. 

There’s excellent value in the electric ZS as before, while the improvements applied to this version – both aesthetically and in the battery department – give it an added layer of desirability.

It’s a good package for those keen to get a foot onto the electric car ladder without breaking the bank. This is one truly relevant EV.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything MG ZS EV

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Dave Humphreys
Dave Humphreys is a Contributor at CarExpert.
Ratings
Overall8.4
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 9
Ride Comfort 8
Fit for Purpose 9.5
Handling Dynamics 8.5
Interior Practicality and Space 8
Fuel Efficiency 8.5
Value for Money 9
Performance 7.5
Technology Infotainment 8

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