- Small SUV
- Sensational value for money
- Surprisingly good on interior quality
- New bigger-battery model has a much more competitive range
- Pre-facelift models have poor range and poorer infotainment
- Refinement isn't as impressive as pricier alternatives
- No reach adjustment for the steering wheel
Under Chinese ownership, MG seems to have accidentally cornered the market for affordable electric vehicles at exactly the right time. The MG ZS EV is an electric SUV that majors on value for money, while recent improvements mean it's a seriously competitive choice. Continue to read our full 2022 MG ZS EV review to find out why it should be high on your shortlist.
Based on the MG ZS, the all-electric MG ZS EV first went on sale in 2019. That wasn't so long ago but, even since then, the number of electric cars on the market has increased dramatically. It now has to compete with the likes of the Vauxhall Mokka-e and Volkswagen ID.3, as well as previous favourites in the form of the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.
You only have to look at MG's rapidly increasing sales figures – even during a one-in-a-lifetime pandemic and global microchip shortage – to see the brand is doing something very right with cars like the MG ZS EV. Still, in order to remain competitive, a facelifted model is now on sale with a bigger battery, fresh exterior design and revised technology.
The MG ZS EV's interior still isn't as fancy as rivals but, for the cash, there's not a great deal to find fault with. There are a surprising amount of squishy materials (rather than harsh plastics), while high-spec MG ZS EV Trophy models get faux-leather heated seats and a big panoramic sunroof that lets loads of light into the cabin.
A new 10.1-inch infotainment system brings the MG ZS EV bang up to date, while you can use a smartphone app to check the car's status (such as its charge level and whether it's locked or unlocked). You can also add live services (such as weather, traffic and even Amazon Music) – but, with Apple CarPlay and Android Android smartphone mirroring as standard across the range, we reckon these are a bit redundant.
Adding to the impression that the MG ZS EV is far from a bargain-basement product, you get a whole heap of standard safety features and driver assistance technology. These include an emergency braking system (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), while the MG ZS EV Trophy and Trophy Connect models add Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist.
The most impressive thing about the MG ZS EV is its size. It might square up against cars like the Vauxhall Corsa-e and MINI Electric in terms of price but you get so much more physical car for your money. It's a Nissan Qashqai-sized family car with five seats and a big boot.
You won’t find too many signs of cost-cutting on the road with the MG ZS EV, either. Sure, it’s not the last word in either ride comfort or handling prowess, but it does a thoroughly acceptable job in both areas. Thanks to the strong, responsive performance you get from the car’s electric motor, it’s a very easy and relaxing car to drive. It’s reasonably quiet compared with a regular combustion-engined car, too, although with a slightly whiny motor and plenty of wind and road noise, it’s not as relaxing to drive as other electric cars. Well, you can’t have everything.
Of course, the big question most potential electric car owners ask is 'how far can it travel on a charge?'. If you buy the latest model with the bigger long-range battery, it can officially travel a very competitive 273 miles. During our time with the long-range MG ZS EV, we found that 240 miles between charges was pretty doable, and certainly 200+ miles shouldn't be an issue.
Don't need to travel that far? You can now buy a more affordable MG ZS EV with a smaller 51kWh battery and a 198-mile range, while older MG ZS EV models can only cover up to 163 miles. That's not quite as handy but, if you're looking for a cheap electric vehicle for nipping around town or covering the commute, a used MG ZS EV could still be an excellent introduction to EV ownership.
If you're still not convinced that an MG ZS EV will satisfy your needs, there's always the conventional petrol-powered MG ZS. Spoiler, though: the electric one's much better...
Is the MG ZS EV right for you?
If you're umming and ahing about making the jump to an electric car, the MG ZS EV could be the perfect introduction to electric motoring. The latest model can officially travel up to 273 miles on a charge (although, as ever, note that a real-world range figure will be slightly less than this), while it costs significantly less to buy than other electric SUVs.
It's also considerably more practical than other affordable electric cars. If you need a practical family runabout that's spacious enough for school runs, shopping trips and even weekends away, the MG ZS EV will be much more up to the job than a Renault Zoe or Vauxhall Corsa-e.
What’s the best MG ZS EV model/engine to choose?
There's a lot to be said for stretching the budget for the latest 2022 facelift MG ZS EV. Not only is it offered as a Long Range model with a bigger battery, improvements to the interior (particularly the infotainment system) mean it feels like a much more modern car.
Then it comes down to deciding between MG ZS EV SE, Trophy and Trophy Connect models. The entry-level SE is well kitted out, but we'd hunt out an MG ZS EV Trophy for the heated faux-leather seats, panoramic glass sunroof and upgraded sound system. The live services provided by the MG ZS EV Trophy Connect probably aren't worth the extra cash, but don't dismiss them if you can get a good deal.
If you're on a budget, though, an earlier example of the MG ZS EV is well worth considering. Again, the entry-level MG ZS EV Excite trim isn't going to leave you wanting, but the range-topping MG ZS EV Exclusive comes with some desirable kit. There are more Exclusive models on the market, too, so you'll have more choice if one of these is within budget.
What other cars are similar to the MG ZS EV?
If you're in the market for a new electric car, there's no shortage of very good competition – but you might have to pay a little more for something anywhere near as practical as the MG ZS EV. We'd suggest taking a look at electric SUVs like the Vauxhall Mokka-e, Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric and Skoda Enyaq iV.
This simplicity means it’s very easy to locate and to use everything, while the instrument dials are also clear and simple to understand.
One oddity is the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel. It moves up and down, but not in and out. Most drivers will find that the MG ZS EV either fits them or it doesn't – so it's worth trying it for size before parting with your cash.
The seats in the MG ZS EV are soft and squashy, but supportive enough, and the driver’s seat moves up and down (electrically in the MG ZS EV Trophy) to help you get comfy.
Visibility is no problem at the front of the car, but at the rear, thick window pillars obscure your over-the-shoulder view. Happily, all versions get rear parking sensors, while the MG ZS EV Trophy also adds a reversing camera, along with rear cross traffic alert to help prevent you backing out of a parking space into traffic.
Quality and finish
This is an area in which you might be very pleasantly surprised, given the MG ZS EV’s low price tag, and MG’s status as an unabashed budget brand.
The MG ZS EV's interior is actually very pleasant. Yes, there are a few functional low-grade panels in the lower reaches of the cabin, but most of what you look at and touch is softly-surfaced and nicely textured. There’s plenty of glossy black panelling and chrome-effect trim to jazz things up, too, and all the various switches and buttons - the rotary gear selector in particular - work with a pleasant slickness and precision that give an impressively substantial feel.
All in all, the interior of the MG ZS EV doesn’t feel any worse for quality than a Renault Zoe, and in fact, it probably feels better on that score than a considerably more expensive Nissan Leaf. The entry-level MG ZS EV Excite comes with cloth upholstery in a houndstooth design, as does the MG ZS EV SE on later models. This is nice enough, but the reasonably convincing leather-effect seats you get in the Exclusive and Trophy range-toppers do hike the feeling of quality a bit.
Infotainment: Touchscreen, USB, nav and stereo in the MG ZS EV
The infotainment is one of the key areas in which the MG ZS EV was improved with the late-2021 facelift. You now get a brilliant 10.1-inch tablet-style infotainment screen as standard, incorporating all the tech you could possibly wish for – including sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's easy to use and fast to respond – although, if we had one criticism, it's mounted a little low down on the dashboard. Some might prefer that to the current 'tacked on the dashboard' trend, but it's not that easy to glance at while driving.
A fully digital instrument display is also standard but, to be honest, it's not that fancy. You can't do much to customise it, for example, but it looks smart enough and gives you important information (like your current speed).
Pre-facelift MG ZS EV models get a glossy-fronted 8.0-inch touchscreen, and it supports all the functionality you’d expect it to, including DAB radio, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The graphics look sharp and modern, but the system could be a lot easier to use. For starters, the home screen is central to how you use the system, yet there’s no marking on the button that gets you there. The button in question is the one in the middle of the volume control, which looks like it should turn the system on and off, and until you work this out for yourself by trial and error (mainly error), you’ll be left completely flummoxed.
Otherwise, the cryptic design of some of the on-screen icons means it’s not immediately clear what many of them do, while the screen transitions and animations are glitchy and slow. The screen is rather lazy in responding to inputs, too, although it does usually register them efficiently.
Space and practicality: MG ZS EV boot space
Compare the MG ZS EV with every other electric car available for similar money in this area, and it absolutely wipes the floor with all of them. For starters, it's considerably bigger than all its rivals, measuring 4323mm long, 2048mm wide (including door mirrors) and 1649mm high (including roof rails).
Meanwhile, the MG ZS EV's 2581mm wheelbase equates to much more cabin space. There’s bags of room up front – as you’d always expect – while in the back, passengers also enjoy really generous knee room and headroom. Even MG ZS EV Exclusive and Trophy models, with the panoramic glass roof, have enough headroom for those well over six feet tall to get comfy.
What’s more, the wide cabin and flat rear floor mean the MG ZS EV is also better than many cars at carrying three in the back. Meanwhile, a pair of bulky child seats will fit without any problem, and there are Isofix mounting points provided to tether them to, although you are required to simply shove the clasp through a tight gap in the cushion to engage it.
The boot, also, is absolutely massive compared with those of most rivals, and all your charging cables are stored in their own handy compartments under the floor, along with your pot of tyre sealant (there’s no spare wheel). Officially, the MG ZS EV can carry 470 litres of luggage in its boot, rising to a massive 1375 litres with the rear seats dropped.
There’s a hefty load lip, but you can reduce this by shifting the moveable boot floor. Doing this also levels out the step in the load area when you drop the 60/40 split rear seats for more cargo space. The backrests lie at a slight angle, meaning your extended load area is a little bit sloped, but again, the space you get is massive compared with that of rivals.
Its soft suspension does a very presentable job of mopping up ripples and ruts at low speed so while sharp-edged potholes present a bit more of a challenge, they’re usually dealt with fairly effectively. You will feel the body bouncing around slightly over dips and crests, or even over a briskly taken speed bump, but although vertical movement isn’t as well controlled as it is in some rivals. It’s nothing that you or your passengers will find unsettling.
The soft suspension of the MG ZS EV results in a bit of body roll when you’re cornering, although again, it won’t be unsettling if you keep your speed moderate. Not that the car ever encourages you to pick up the pace, mind. Grip levels are fine, but the steering feels slow and artificial, while the weight of the car means there’s little satisfaction to be gained from flinging it about.
There are different driving modes to play with, the sportier ones of which sharpen up throttle responses and require less pressure on the pedal for brisk acceleration, while also dumping a bit more weight into the steering. However, they don’t do much to make your driving any more enjoyable. It’s much better to just sit back, relax, and adopt an I’ll-get-there-when-I-get-there approach with the MG ZS EV.
What engines are gearboxes are available in the MG ZS EV?
The electric motor in the MG ZS EV Long Range delivers a healthy 156PS. More noteworthy is the 280Nm torque figure which, like in all electric cars, is available the second you hit the accelerator pedal. It surges forward with a surprising eagerness – especially if you've just jumped out of a petrol or diesel car – although it's not quite as rapid as the Hyundai Kona Electric (which, frankly, is quicker than anyone really needs it to be).
Because electric cars have a single gear, the strong acceleration remains constant, uninterrupted by the gear changes you’d get in a regular car, while the experience of driving the car is just like driving an automatic.
The difference you will notice, though, is the regenerative braking, which has three changeable settings (that's what the weird 'KERS' toggle on the centre console is for). In its default mode, the MG ZS EV slows down noticeably every time you lift off the accelerator, rather more than if you did the same in a combustion-engined car. This is so that the energy that would otherwise be lost in deceleration can be fed back into the battery as electricity.
For those that find this action too aggressive (which won’t be many because it’s always fairly gentle), the middle mode makes this process less vigorous, while the next mode along dials it back to virtually nothing, allowing you to coast around more freely.
Maximum EV range in the MG ZS EV
The electric range is another area in which the MG ZS EV has improved dramatically in recent updates. It's now available with a 72kWh battery pack (badged the MG ZS EV Long Range), alongside a standard range model with a 51kWh battery.
That means the standard MG ZS EV will have an official WLTP range of 198 miles, while the bigger-battery model will be good for 273 miles. That's only really beaten by much pricier versions of the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro (and, even then, not by much).
If you find a pre-facelift MG ZS EV from 2021 or earlier, it will have a 44.5kWh battery and an official range of 163 miles. That's not quite so impressive but, for the cash, it's fine – and should be more than adequate for the commute or pottering around town.
Refinement and noise levels
By electric car standards, the MG ZS EV isn’t a particularly quiet car. You’ll hear more of a whine from the motor than you will in many rivals (although it’s still much quieter than having a dirty great combustion engine clattering away up front), along with a fair amount of knocking and clonking from the suspension over lumpy urban surfaces.
The bigger annoyance comes on the motorway, though, where quite a lot of wind- and road noise make their way into the cabin. It’s nothing that’ll have you reaching for the ear-defenders or screaming to communicate with your passengers, but by the high standards of the class, the MG is noticeably behind.
Safety equipment: How safe is the MG ZS EV?
Another area in which the MG ZS EV does a dazzling job despite its low price.
The standard safety roster is incredibly generous, with all the stuff you’d expect - six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and all the usual traction and stability aids - plus a lot of other stuff you might not. Automatic emergency braking is provided across the board, along with lane keeping assistance, speed limit display, adaptive high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control that can pretty much drive the car for you in a traffic jam.
MG ZS EV Exclusive, Trophy and Trophy Connect models add a couple more bits to the roster including a blind spot assistant and rear cross traffic alert. This impressive amount of kit helped the MG ZS EV achieve a full five-star rating when it was smashed to smithereens in Euro NCAP crash tests.
We'd recommend installing a 7kW wallbox charger home for safe and convenient overnight charging. Early MG ZS EV models with the 44.5kWh battery will take around six and a half hours to fully charge, while the Long Range ZS (with the 72kWh battery) will take around 10 and a half hours. Depending on your home electricity tariff, you'll pay around £6-7 to fully charge a 44.5kWh MG ZS EV, and around £11 to charge one with the bigger battery.
When you're out and about, a 100kWh rapid charger can top up the MG ZS EV Long Range from 10-80% in around 42 minutes.
How reliable is an MG ZS EV?
The MG name might have some unfortunate connotations when it comes to reliability, but it's keen to banish these under Chinese ownership. The brand achieved an impressive 9.42/10 score for reliability in the 2020 HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index, while the petrol MG ZS scored an even more admirable rating of 9.67.
There's no reason to suspect the electric MG ZS EV would be any less reliable. Indeed, electric cars tend to be more reliable than their petrol or diesel equivalents as there are fewer moving parts and, therefore, less to go wrong. You'll get a seven-year warranty on a new MG ZS EV, too.
Insurance groups and costs
Regardless of which trim level you choose, your MG ZS EV will fall into the same insurance group, that being group 28. That’s fairly middle-of-the-road considering that insurance groups run from one to 50, one being the cheapest and 50 being the priciest.
VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on an MG ZS EV?
If you’re one of those people who hates handing their hard-earned cash to the Exchequer (aren’t we all?), then the MG ZS will suit you to a tee. Because it’s electric, you'll pay no road tax whatsoever. Nada. Zip. Bubkus.
The cheapest new MG ZS EV you can buy is the SE model with the standard 51kWh battery pack. At the time of writing, this has a list price of £27,745. The MG ZS EV Trophy starts from a shade under £30,000, while the Trophy Connect is an extra £500.
Looking for the Long Range model? That starts from around £30,000 in SE trim, while the desirable MG ZS EV Trophy Long Range is closer to £34,000. Again, go for the Trophy Connect and you'll pay an extra £500.
That's no more expensive than a mid-spec petrol Nissan Qashqai, while you could spend that kind of money on a much smaller, more sparsely-equipped electric car like the Renault Zoe. Electric SUV alternatives like the Vauxhall Mokka-e and Hyundai Kona Electric are more expensive.
Of course, if you want to save even more money, look for a second-hand MG ZS EV. It's been on sale since 2019 so, if you're not fussed about having the most up-to-date model (with its bigger battery and longer range), you can get a serious bargain. We've seen early examples, with low miles on the clock, dipping in below £20,000. Bear in mind, too, that the car comes with a fully transferable seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.
Trim levels and standard equipment
The MG ZS EV is currently available in three trim levels: SE, Trophy and Trophy Connect.
The entry-level MG ZS EV SE (now there's a name you won't forget) is very well stocked for the money. Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, bi-function LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and push-button start, vehicle-to-load charging, 360-degree parking camera, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, sat-nav and multiple USB charging points.
The MG ZS EV Trophy adds a panoramic roof and leather-style seats, along with more convenience options such as roof rails, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment, rain-sensing wipers and wireless phone charging. The Trophy Connect builds on this with live services (including weather, traffic and Amazon Music).
Previously, the MG ZS EV was available in Excite or Exclusive models. Standard equipment on an MG ZS EV Excite included air-con, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, four powered windows, alloy wheels, electric door mirrors, a leather steering wheel and automatic headlights.
MG ZS EV Exclusive trim added a powered driver’s seat, leather-effect upholstery, heated front seats, automatic wipers, a panoramic roof and a reversing camera.
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