This is Australia’s cheapest new electric car.
The updated MG ZS EV (with no-cost white paint as tested) brings a number of worthwhile improvements over the old version – for an unchanged $44,990 drive-away starting price.
It’s little wonder the first 2000 cars to hit dealers are being snapped up fast, especially considering EV sales are on a steep growth curve. MG has form here, considering the pre-update MG ZS EV was Australia’s number-two selling electric car behind the ubiquitous Tesla Model 3 in 2021.
This revised version will make an even greater number of everyday Australians consider the switch – particularly those for whom a Tesla is way out of reach. That’s why it has some hallmarks of a game changer.
The range kicks off at $44,990 drive-away for the Excite grade tested here.
With many states now offering EV rebates – NSW, Victoria and Queensland all offer $3000 payments for example – you can get the base model down into the low $40k range.
For a point of direct comparison, the top-of-the-range MG ZST turbocharged petrol model – it’s basically the same car, just not electric – costs $33,990.
The only EV in the MG’s ballpark is the BYD Atto 3, another Chinese SUV that kicks off at $44,381 before on-road costs. In Victoria this equals $47,000 drive-away.
The latter pair might be more accomplished vehicles to drive, made by more highly regarded brands, but you can’t charge them for a few bucks overnight in your driveway either…
The updated model’s interior design is entirely conventional and won’t scare anyone making the switch. It’s built to a price, but generally acceptable.
This base model comes with manually adjustable seats trimmed in funky fabric, offering pretty good thigh and side bolstering for support in corners.
The steering wheel looks great with red stitching and perforated hand grips, but it doesn’t feel all that premium and lacks telescopic reach adjustment – it only moves up and down.
The digital instrument cluster runs a speedo on the left and a power usage meter on the right, flanking a trip data readout.
The indicator stalk is on the left, while a lower stalk operates the adaptive cruise control – which in turn prompts the instruments to display a live animation of its workings.
The build quality feels pretty fine really, with few obvious squeaks or rattles on our test car – one exception being the small amount of movement in the steering column trim.
The upper door trims and lower part of the tunnel is covered in rock hard plastic, but the door and centre armrests, knee rests and dash are padded.
There’s an interesting padded material running the full width of the dash designed to vaguely resemble carbon-fibre, and the use of red stitchwork and silver plastic trims elevate the overall look and feel.
Next to your left knee sits a circular gear shifter that nicely knurled – left for reverse, right for drive, push for park – ahead of which are three rocker switches.
This switch bank controls the three levels of brake energy recuperation (KERS), driving mode (Sport, Eco, Normal), and shortcuts you to a battery status menu on the touchscreen.
Above this are physical buttons that shortcut you to the home screen menu, change the volume, operate the defogger, and change the climate control temperature.
The new 10.1-inch touchscreen is far better than the old model’s, which was laggy and hard to see.
It’s not the fastest-loading unit, but its pages are simple to work out, there’s a horizontal lower menu with shortcuts, and its graphics are fine.
It offers embedded sat-nav, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which run through the USB-A point rather than the also-fitted USB-C, and both FM and DAB (digital radio). There is no AM radio though, which is becoming more common and worth noting for regional buyers in particular.
The Bluetooth phone and media re-pairing was rapid and reliable, and I made numerous phone calls on the move with no reported issues.
While the 360-degree camera sounds good on paper, its resolution is pretty average. MG has clearly cut costs here, although it’s no orphan.
Storage options include small console, central cupholders with a sliding cover, mid-sized glovebox, and big door bins. There’s no hidden storage area below the centre tunnel like you find in many flat-floor EVs.
One strength is the back seat, with my 194cm frame finding plenty of leg and head space behind my preferred driving position. Therefore, you can carry four adults without a drama.
Back-seat amenities include air vents, one USB-A and one USB-C point adjustable headrests, damped folding grab handles, and ISOFIX/top-tether attachments.
There are door bins for bottles, but no flip-down armrest with rear cupholders.
The boot capacity is 359 litres, about the same as a typical hatchback, but there’s no spare tyre – just a repair kit.
MG ZS EV Dimensions:
- Length: 4323mm
- Width: 1809mm
- Height: 1625mm
- Wheelbase: 2585mm
The updated MG ZS EV gets a more powerful 130kW drive motor, compared to the pre-facelift’s 105kW, but torque has been pared back to 280Nm (down from 353Nm).
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the MG ZS EV is front-wheel drive, and too much going though the front axle can cause axle tramping and torque steering.
The motor is powered by a new lithium iron phosphate battery pack with 50.3kWh capacity, capable of providing a 320km driving range on the European WLTP testing cycle – up from 263km in the old car.
LFP batteries aren’t quite as dense as lithium-ion batteries, but are cheaper and less prone to thermal runaway.
That range equates to claimed energy consumption of 17.1kWh per 100km on a combined-cycle drive loop, which pretty much reflects the 17.2kWh per 100km I averaged on a combined-cycle drive loop.
For longer highways stints where you can’t leverage the brake-energy recuperation as much, you should work on an assumed driving range more like 250-270km, based on the efficiency I was seeing in this context.
The charger connection comprises Type 2 AC and CCS DC charge ports.
A 7kW home AC wallbox charger will fully charge the battery in about eight hours, whereas a 50kW DC public charger will get you to 80 per cent in 54 minutes before tapering off (as is standard with EVs). MG cites a peak DC charging speed of 80kW.
A three-prong trickle charger cable also lives under the boot floor and can be plugged into a regular power socket, but this is really only for occasional use since it’s so slow.
MG says it can tow 500kg – so perhaps a box trailer?
Finally, the new ZS EV offers vehicle-to-load discharging at up to 2.5kW via an adaptor, meaning you can power things like a kettle, hairdryer, or laptop.
MG ZS EV Tech Specs:
- Power: 130kW
- Torque: 280Nm
- 0-100km/h: 8.2sec (claimed)
- Battery: 50.3kW lithium iron phosphate
- Range claim: 320km WLTP
- Consumption: 17.1kWh per 100km
- Charge time 7kW AC: 8 hours to 100%
- Charge time 50kW DC: 54 minutes to 80%
- Kerb weight: 1570kg
Not everyone will find the driving position perfect on account of the absence of telescopic steering wheel adjustment, but on the plus side the seats don’t lack thigh support and the driving position is nicely elevated.
Those who’ve not yet experienced an EV will in all likelihood appreciate the silence on startup, and the smooth yet instantaneous torque delivery, particularly from 0-60km/h in urban driving, or with rolling response from 20km/h to 80km/h.
But even the 8.5-second 0-100km/h time I managed is far from sluggish, despite some late tapering.
One area of focus for the update was refinement, with the MY23 car getting additional sound-proofing, marginally better aerodynamic efficiency courtesy of the closed grille, and higher-quality Michelin Primacy tyres.
Because EVs lack engine noise, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) suppression is paramount.
The steering is very light and lacks feedback, but around town feels right at home. There’s some body roll in more aggressive driving, through it’s kept controlled by the battery weight in the floor.
The suspension layout is a basic MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear, with passive damping. It’s relatively well behaved over degraded urban roads, offering a relatively cohesive experience that meets the standards we’d expect. Those sensibly-sized wheels help.
One area where there’s scope for improvement is the KERS regenerative braking system which, even in its strongest setting, doesn’t really slow the car much. If you fancy some one-pedal driving like you get in the Leaf, tough luck.
Finally, the lane-keep assist function was quite naggy, regularly making a fuss even if the car was between the road lines. Thankfully it stays off once you find the requisite control menu.
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Tyre repair kit
- V2L compatibility
- Keyless entry
- LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- ‘3D-effect’ tail lights
- Fabric seat trim, manual adjustments
- Button start
- Climate control
- Digital instrument cluster
- Power meter
- Trip computer
- Tyre-pressure monitor
- 10.1-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto – wired
- DAB+, FM radio
- Satellite navigation
- 360-degree camera
- 4-speaker audio
ZS EV Essence adds:
- 6-speaker audio
- Synthetic leather seat trim
- Powered driver’s seat
- Front seat heating
- Auto-folding side mirrors
- Panoramic sunroof
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Wireless phone charger
Accessories you can buy for extra include:
- Fabric or rubber boot liners
- Fabric or rubber mats
- Roof racks
- 7KW charge cable
- 22KW rapid charge cable
The pre-facelift MG ZS EV was tested by ANCAP in 2019 where it scored five stars, managing 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 84 per cent for adult occupant protection, 64 per cent for vulnerable road user, and 71 per cent for safety assist.
However, this rating did not carry over to the facelifted model. MG told us it is currently working with ANCAP to deliver an updated rating for the new model.
Safety features include
- 6 airbags
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Lane-keep assist
- Intelligent speed limiter
- Adaptive cruise control
ZS EV Essence adds:
- Blind-spot detection
- Rear cross-traffic alert
The ZS EV comes with a lengthy seven-year warranty “with no hidden inclusions”. The company also says it has 83 dealers trained to handle EV servicing.
MG ZS EV service pricing:
- 24 mths or 20,000km: $268
- 48 mths or 40,000km: $268
- 72 mths or 60,000km: $268
- 96 mths or 80,000km: $807
- 120 mths or 100,000km: $268
- 144 mths or 120,000km: $268
- 168 mths or 140,000km: $268
MG Australia also offers dealer-led solutions for home charging, selling 7kW single-phase and 11kW three-phase wallboxes with inbuilt RFID reader, ethernet, and internet connectivity. The units cost $1990 and $2090 respectively, and will charge any vehicle with a Type 2 socket.
The new MG iSmart app is designed to let you remotely check the vehicle charging status, lock or unlock the car, or find your vehicle.
This is a meaningful update, which makes the MG ZS EV a much more palatable vehicle at an unchanged, market-leading price point.
There’s more range yet more power, a sharper look, added refinement, superior multimedia and connectivity, and the promise a holistic ownership experience including a good warranty and dealers that can sell you a wallbox.
Sure there are some rough edges, and it’s clearly built to hit a price. But in so doing the MG has made EV motoring accessible to more people than ever.
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MORE: Everything MG ZS EV