What Car? says...
The problem with electric SUVs 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.
The ZS EV is effectively an electric car version of the MG ZS – and that small SUV is one of MG's most rounded models to date. While the EV isn’t quite the bargain the petrol-powered car is, the ethos of value for money remains.
That makes sense, because 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.
You see, while the ZS EV costs lots less than direct rivals, it comes well equipped and impresses when it comes to range, with a Long Range version that can officially manage more than 270 miles.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
One area where the MG ZS EV really outshines the petrol-powered ZS is when it comes to performance. You see, while the ZS feels sluggish, the ZS EV can officially sprint from 0-60mph in just over eight seconds, regardless of which version you’re driving.
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 faster, taking 7.8 seconds to do the same sprint, but we doubt most buyers will notice the difference.
When you're not sprinting to 60mph, the ZS EV’s entry-level 49kWh battery can officially cover 198 miles between charges, while the Long Range’s 68.3kWh battery increases the range to 273 miles. For some context, the entry-level Niro EV and the Peugeot e-2008 can officially manage 285 miles and 250 miles respectively.
Of course, the actual range you manage in the real world will likely be different to those figures, and in our real-world tests, the Long Range version managed 246 miles on a charge.
So, the ZS EV's pace and range are both decent, but in most other respects it's so-so to drive. The steering isn’t as good as the Niro EV's or the e-2008's 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 make it heavier, but that doesn't really help matters.
You wouldn’t exactly describe the ZS EV as 'fun' in many other respects. Its battery pack adds lots of extra weight compared with the petrol MG ZS so it’s no surprise that the EV doesn’t feel as light on its toes. In fairness, none of the ZS EV’s rivals are exactly joyous to drive – the Niro EV and the e-2008 are tauter and more agile, but still far from sporty.
The thing is, 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 easily 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.
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 some electric cars wreaks havoc with that predictability).
Oddly, despite being an electric SUV and having no engine noise, the ZS EV isn't all that quiet on the move, because there's plenty of wind and road noise at 70mph. It’s never too intrusive, but the Niro EV is notably quieter as you drive along.
Strengths Good range between charges; decent performance
Weaknesses Rivals ride better; more wind and road noise than rivals; so-so to drive
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.
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 the 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. Meanwhile, good visibility at night comes courtesy of standard-fit automatic LED headlights, which is generous considering the ZS EV’s price tag.
Strengths Impressive interior quality; good forward visibility
Weaknesses Infotainment not particularly intuitive; driving position could be better
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. There’s also more than enough head room for a six footer, even with the panoramic roof equipped.
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 and you have the height-adjustable boot floor in its lowest setting. That means there's a bit more room for luggage than in the Niro EV and Peugeot e-2008 or, in more relatable terms, enough space for five carry-on sized suitcases.
When you need more space, the rear seats can be split 60/40 and folded down, which isn’t as versatile as the 40/20/40 split that you get in the Kona Electric but a match for almost every other rival. The main issue is that, when you fold the ZS EV’s rear seats down, there’s a noticeable step down to the boot floor, when it’s in its lowest position.
Strengths Bigger boot than rivals; plenty of interior space;
Weaknesses Rear seats not as versatile as the Hyundai Kona Electric’s
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The MG ZS EV really comes into its own when it comes to cost. As a cash purchase, it’s cheaper than all its rivals, slightly undercutting the Renault Zoe and costing way less than the Kia Niro EV, the Mini Electric and the Peugeot e-2008. In fact, it’s even cheaper than some smaller electric cars such as the Peugeot e-208 although not by the same margin.
The ZS EV is predicted to depreciate faster than all of its main rivals, which can have an effect on the amount you’ll pay each month on PCP finance, but the much cheaper list price means it’ll likely still be cheaper. Be sure to check out our MG ZS EV deals to get the best price.
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 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.
When it comes to reliability, the ZS EV placed in the middle of all the electric SUVs tested in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. Meanwhile, MG as a brand didn’t do quite so well, claiming 25th place out of the 32 included manufacturers – that’s way below Mini (in third place) and other rival brands, including Kia and Peugeot, but above Vauxhall.
Luckily, the ZS EV comes with a generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty, matching Kia’s offering and way better than its other rivals.
The entry-level ZS EV can pull up to 75kW from a public CCS charger, giving a 10-80% top-up in around 36 minutes. Meanwhile, the Long Range version, which has a larger battery, can accept up to 94kW of power, for a 10-80% charge in around 42min in ideal conditions.
Strengths Long warranty; lots of standard kit; cheap list price
Weaknesses Depreciates faster than rivals; MG reliability score
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While the ZS EV isn’t quite as good to drive as rival electric SUVs, it makes up for that with its affordable price tag, high levels of equipment, decent electric range and great practicality. Our expert reviewers awarded it four stars out of five.
In our real-world electric car range tests, the ZS EV Long Range managed to travel 246 miles before rolling to a halt. That was in summer, though – you can expect less than that in colder weather.
Plugging the ZS EV into a 7kW charger at home will mean the standard car takes eight hours to get to 100%, while the Long Range will take 10.5 hours.
|RRP price range
|£30,495 - £32,995
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|Available doors options
|7 years / 80000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£61 / £1,631
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£122 / £3,262