What Car? says...
The problem with electric cars – especially those of the SUV variety – is that, while they're cheap to run, they can be rather expensive to buy in the first place. There is one notable exception, though – the MG ZS EV.
Ever since MG was relaunched by a Chinese company, the once-famous British sports car brand has concentrated on building value-focused models, with steadily increasing success. The MG ZS is its one of its most rounded models to date, so it’s hardly surprising that it was chosen as a basis for the MG's first electric car.
The electric ZS isn’t quite the bargain the petrol-powered ZS is, but it does cost roughly the same as many other similar-sized petrol and diesel-powered SUVs. Considering how much electrification adds to a car's price, that's impressive.
The MG ZS EV also costs much less than rival electric SUVs including the Kia Niro EV and Peugeot e-2008 – and even undercuts several smaller electric cars, including the Mini Electric and Renault Zoe.
Value for money, then, is clearly one of the ZS EV's strengths, yet it also impresses for range. The larger battery version (called the Long Range) can officially manage up to 273 miles on a charge, and even the entry-level model promises almost 200 miles.
But is the MG ZS EV the bargain it first appears, or simply proof of the old saying that you get what you pay for? That’s a question we'll be answering in this review, so click through to the next page to start reading.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
One of the weakest areas of the petrol-powered MG ZS is its sluggish performance. That’s not something that the ZS EV suffers from – the 49kWh and 68.3kWh (Long Range) versions can both sprint from 0-62mph in around eight seconds.
That’s pretty respectable, and you’ll never find yourself wishing you had a little extra zip, even on faster A-roads. True, the Kia Niro EV is slightly faster, but we doubt most buyers will notice the difference.
While the ZS EV's pace is decent, in most other respects it's so-so to drive. The steering isn’t as good as on the Niro EV or Peugeot e-2008 because, while the responses are predictable, there’s not much insight into what the front wheels are up to. You can change the steering weight to makes it heavier but that doesn't really help matters.
You wouldn’t describe the ZS EV as 'fun' in many other respects, either. Its battery pack adds lots of extra weight compared with the petrol ZS, so it’s no surprise that the EV doesn’t feel as light on its toes.
That said, none of the ZS EV’s rivals are exactly joyous to drive. The Niro EV and e-2008 are tauter and more agile, but still far from sporty.
Ride comfort doesn’t appear on the ZS EV’s list of strengths, either. Its relatively soft suspension handles big bumps well enough, but the car is easy unsettled by expansion joints – especially mid-corner – and you're jostled around along faster roads with minor imperfections. The Niro EV is more comfortable overall.
Oddly, despite being an electric SUV the ZS EV isn't all that quiet on the move, because there's plenty of wind and road noise at 70mph.
It’s not all bad news, though. The ZS EV's brake pedal makes it relatively easy to judge how much pressure to apply when you want to slow down smoothly. The regenerative braking system in many other electric cars wreaks havoc with that predictability, causing you to press the pedal too hard or not hard enough.
So, what about the ZS EV's range between charges? Well, the Long Range version can officially manage 273 miles, while the entry-level model promises 198 miles. For some context, the Niro EV and e-2008 can officially manage 285 miles and 201 miles respectively.
In our real-world tests, conducted in the summer, the Long Range version managed 246 miles on a charge.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The quality of the MG ZS EV's interior isn't too bad considering its budget price tag. You'll find soft-touch plastics on the dashboard, along with solid-feeling buttons and an impressive fit and finish. That said, the pricier Kia Niro EV feels a bit more upmarket.
Every ZS EV comes with a 10.1in touchscreen infotainment system as standard, which includes a DAB radio and Bluetooth. You also get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, so you can run apps, such as Google Maps and Waze, from your phone through the infotainment screen.
The system responds quickly to your prods and the screen has fairly sharp graphics. Even so, the operating system isn't the most intuitive – the Hyundai Kona Electric and Niro EV have more user-friendly infotainment systems.
You get a height-adjustable driver’s seat (electrically operated on the Trophy trim), although some might still struggle to find the perfect driving position because of the slightly unusual angle of the steering wheel. The ZS EV still has a better driving position than the Peugeot e-2008 but the Kia Soul EV and the Niro EV are even more comfortable to sit in.
Seeing out of the front is pretty easy, thanks in part to the elevated driving position, but the view out of the rear is hindered by thick pillars. Fortunately, rear parking sensors and a 360-degree parking camera are standard across the range. Good visibility at night comes courtesy of standard-fit LED headlights, which is generous considering the ZS EV’s price tag.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
One of the best things about the MG ZS EV is its spacious interior – it’s far roomier inside than many electric cars in this price bracket, including the Renault Zoe. Thanks to clever packaging, space up front is good, with plenty of head and leg room for the driver and passenger.
Rear space is excellent, too – there's much more space than in the Hyundai Kona Electric and the ZS EV even edges the Kia Niro EV for rear leg room. With a panoramic sunroof (standard with Trophy trim), there’s enough head room for six-footers.
The ZS EV officially has a slightly bigger boot than the petrol MG ZS with a capacity of 470 litres (versus 448 litres) when the rear seats are in use. That means there's a bit more room for luggage than in the Niro EV and Peugeot e-2008.
With the rear seats folded down, there's a noticeable step in the extended boot floor. It's not too bad, though, and the height-adjustable boot floor you get on all versions helps get around the issue when it's in its highest position.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Even better news is that the ZS EV is predicted to hold on to its value surprisingly well if you go for the Long Range model – not quite as well as the Niro EV, but then that car costs significantly more to start with. If you’re thinking about signing up to a PCP finance agreement, expect lower monthly payments than for most other electric SUV with a comparably long range.
The MG EV is also well equipped, and choosing our recommended SE trim will keep costs down. It comes with keyless entry, air-conditioning, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED lights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and 17in alloy wheels.
Peculiarly, you have to step up to Trophy trim to get rain-sensing wipers, but that also adds a panoramic sunroof, faux leather seats (heated in the front) and power-folding door mirrors.
Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, as well as lane-keeping assistance. Trophy trim throws even more into the equation, giving you blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert (to warn you of approaching traffic as you’re reversing out onto a road).
Although the regular MG ZS received a disappointing three-star Euro NCAP safety test rating, the ZS EV scored the full five stars. That's because, as well as having more standard safety kit, it does a better job of protecting occupants from injury.
MG performed reasonably well in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey coming ninth out of 32 brands, behind Hyundai and Kia, but ahead of Peugeot. Better still, the MG ZS EV was the most reliable electric car in the survey, and you get a seven-year (80,000-mile) manufacturer warranty as standard. The battery is covered for the same duration, and will be repaired or replaced if it falls below 70% of its original capacity.
The entry-level ZS EV can pull up to 75kW from a public CCS charger, giving a 10-80% top-up in around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the Long Range version, which has a larger battery, can accept up to 94kW of power, for a 10-80% in around 37min in ideal conditions.
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Yes - it came top among electric cars in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, and MG as a brand came ninth out of 32 car makers. Read more here
The Long Range version can officially manage 273 miles, while the entry-level model promises 198 miles. Of course, official ranges are very hard to match in real-world driving. Read more here
We recommend the Long Range model in SE trim. Its 273-mile official range makes it very usable, while SE trim includes all the essentials, without pushing the price too high. Read more here
You get plenty of safety kit, including automatic emergency braking, as standard – and the ZS EV received a five-star write-up from Euro NCAP. Read more here
The standard 10.1in touchscreen infotainment system incorporates a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. The operating system could be more intuitive, though. Read more here
The electric ZS EV has a boot capacity of 470 litres, so it gives you more luggage space than the petrol MG ZS (448), and also the Kia Niro EV and Peugeot e-2008. Read more here
|RRP price range||£30,495 - £32,995|
|Number of trims (see all)||1|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||7 years / 80000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£61 / £1,595|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£122 / £3,190|