MG ZS overview
The mid-sized SUV is one of the most popular body styles with buyers in Ireland, and ones with electric power are very much of the zeitgeist. MG is a brand that's keen to capitalise on this, so it has updated its offering in that segment, the ZS, for the 2022 model year.
Most of the exterior changes are found at the front. Redesigned headlights present a more distinctive running lamp signature and what was the front grille element is now a dimpled body-coloured panel that carries a larger MG logo. A new battery charge port is more easily accessible on this panel and the contoured bumper design has a more contemporary look. Following other electric models such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the MG ZS is now available with vehicle-to-load capability, meaning that with an adapter, it is possible to power or charge external devices such as an e-bike from the car's main battery.
Owners can also now set the charge level limit, which can help prolong battery performance over the vehicle's lifetime.
The MG ZS model range
Pricing in Ireland for the MG ZS starts at €32,995 for the Excite specification. There is only one powertrain for the ZS, which from 2022 uses a larger 72.6kWh battery capable of a driving range of up to 440 kilometres. That represents a significant change from the previous MG ZS, which could only muster a 263-kilometre range from its smaller battery. Power output rises to 156hp, but the increase in weight due to the larger battery means any performance improvement is negated.
There isn't a tremendous difference between the two specification grades, so there's no need to feel that you're missing out by choosing the lower-priced Excite version. The Houndstooth fabric interior looks good, and the driver's seat is manually adjustable six ways. Keyless entry is a nice convenience, as is the push-button start, so you never need to take the key from your pocket or bag.
The instrument display is an all-digital affair that looks modern and is in keeping with the rest of the market. The 10.1-inch touchscreen is a notable improvement over the previous model's and comes as standard on both versions of the updated ZS. In addition to Bluetooth, there is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and several USB chargers, including one at the rear-view mirror for powering a dashcam.
Pricing of the MG ZS Exclusive begins at €35,995, which is a €3,000 jump over the Excite. Among the extra equipment that the Exclusive model gets are a wireless phone charger and an upgraded six-speaker audio system. Additional safety equipment includes blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Both ZS models get active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, traffic jam assist, intelligent speed limit assist and intelligent high beam assist as standard. These are grouped under the umbrella of 'MG Pilot'. Complementing the rear parking sensors is a 360-degree camera system, 17-inch alloy wheels and electrically adjustable and folding door mirrors.
Metallic paint adds €700, while the tri-coat paint, which is the Dynamic Red colour, will set you back €900. Only the Arctic White is a no-cost paint option.
MG Motor Ireland is currently offering a 2.9 per cent APR PCP finance deal that can get you into a new MG ZS from €304 per month or €76 per week. That deal also includes a free home charging point, which is a further plus if you're switching to an electric vehicle for the first time. Go to the MG Ireland website for up-to-date offers.
The MG ZS interior
There's a simplicity to the interior of the MG ZS that, in some ways, is refreshing. Everything is laid out fairly logically, and there isn't much in the form of superfluous garnishes. The interior plastics reflect the car's price positioning, so if you're expecting soft, dimpled leather upholstery and open-pore wood, you'll need to look elsewhere and perhaps reconsider your budget.
Nevertheless, we have few criticisms of what you get inside the MG. In the ZS Exclusive version tested here, the red contrast stitching adds a sprinkling of colour in what would otherwise be a primarily black affair, save for some slivers of metallic plastic inserts on the doors, across the dashboard fascia and on the instrument cluster surround.
The latter is an all-digital affair that has all the relevant driving information set out in a way that's easy to read at a glance. You can always see the percentage of battery charge remaining and other items such as the current drive mode setting.
All of the controls and buttons, including those on the multifunction steering wheel, are chunky and easy to use - there's no fiddly touch-sensitive functions here to distract while driving. Having a rotary controller for selecting forward or reverse gears frees up a little bit of space around the centre console and makes it easier to access the USB ports.
One of the criticisms we had of the previous MG ZS was with the interior, particularly the infotainment system. It simply wasn't up to scratch compared with what else was available in the segment. MG took heed and now equips the ZS with an improved 10.1-inch touchscreen that looks modern and responds more quickly to inputs. Sensibly, there are still some physical buttons below the touchscreen for climate settings and volume, meaning you don't have to take your eyes off the road when adjusting those.
The updated infotainment system appears promising at first glance, but it is still rather basic once you start to investigate, though navigation is a standard feature. Thankfully MG provides Android Auto and Apple CarPlay software as standard so most smartphone users will be able to enjoy their preferred apps, from navigation and messaging to music.
Passenger space in the rear is reasonable, even if the seats lack support. Getting in and out is made easy thanks to large door apertures and there's a mainly flat floor. That will make up for the centre seating position being the least spacious position. The front seats are mounted sufficiently high to allow enough space to enable passengers in the rear to get their feet in under them to stretch out a bit more.
There are pockets on the backs of the front seats while the rear of the centre console has two air vents and both kinds of USB ports, bringing the total to five in the cabin. Another nice feature of the Exclusive version is the panoramic roof that allows more light into the cabin.
All MG ZS versions benefit from 60:40 split-folding rear seats that tilt forward to increase boot capacity, but these do not fold to create a fully flat load area. You don't get any additional front storage under the bonnet of the ZS, so you have to make do with the 470 litres of boot space. That is less than what you'll get in popular rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, but it is larger than the electric Hyundai Kona, which is a slightly smaller car overall.
The MG ZS driving experience
For all the battery and electric motor changes that have gone on under the skin of the MG ZS, how it drives overall doesn't feel very different. Not that we have an issue with that, as it is a reasonably pleasant and comfortable car to drive. The more important aspect is that it now can cover more considerable distances between charging sessions.
Officially, that single-charge range figure is 440 kilometres on the WLTP cycle. Not bad, and the real-world range should certainly be sufficient for the average motorist, even during colder weather in the winter months. Charging, too, is good with a top up to 80 per cent charge taking as little as 42 minutes from a 100kW rapid charger. You're looking at a decent overnight charge of 10.5 hours to 100 per cent from a 7kW wallbox.
Outright performance is acceptable, not blisteringly quick, but it can still spin a wheel when pulling out of a junction in the rain if you're a little heavy-footed. If you need to make a quick overtake, the roll-on acceleration is good enough not to require much forward planning. Taking 8.4 seconds to reach 100km/h from rest is respectable enough for a car of this size. It will comfortably cruise at motorway speeds without much road or wind noise seeping into the cabin, too.
The ZS is a car that is built with comfort in mind. There is some body lean when you attempt corners at higher speeds, though it remains surefooted. Alloy wheels of 17-inch diameter on an SUV is small by market standards, but this benefits both comfort and road noise.
There are different levels of regenerative braking to choose from. In its strongest mode, it is akin to one-pedal braking that several other electric cars offer. In urban settings, where the speeds are lower, you can almost bring the ZS to a stop without touching the brake pedal.
If you need to do some towing, the ZS can be equipped to do so, and MG says that the maximum towing weight is 500kg, whether the load is braked or unbraked.
Our verdict on the MG ZS
The MG ZS was already a good, value-based proposition and the changes to this updated version make it an even more appealing prospect. It may not have the same badge cachet as some, but MG is generous with standard equipment levels and the longer range is a major plus.