MG ZS EV long-term test review: report 2

MG's first electric vehicle is a family SUV with a highly competitive price but a modest range. We're finding out how it stacks up against both other electric cars and conventional rivals...

MG ZS EV long term

The car MG ZS EV Run by Allan Muir, managing editor

Why we’re running it To find out whether it’s worth buying an electric SUV primarily because it’s affordable, or whether there are too many compromises

Needs to Be practical, comfortable, decent to drive and cheap to run while fitting into everyday life without too much drama

Mileage 455 List price £30,995 (before £3000 government grant) Target Price £30,995 (before £3000 government grant) Price as tested £31,540 Test range 110 miles Official range 163 miles

21 April 2020 – A step back in time 

In some ways, the MG ZS EV reminds me of the days, nearly a decade ago, when the original Nissan Leaf was launched. As with Nissan’s pioneering electric hatchback, the ZS is perfectly at home in an urban environment, proving to be great for commuting and shorter journeys within a 50-mile radius of home. However, it also has some of the same limitations and frustrations that tended to come with early electric vehicles (EVs) but have virtually been eliminated in the best of the current crop. 

MG ZS EV long term

The ZS’s relatively short range can make life interesting on longer, out-of-town trips – something I had to do at least three times during my first few weeks with the car, prior to the coronavirus lockdown. After a full recharge, the indicated range is usually somewhere between 160 and 170 miles – tallying with the official range of 163 miles. However, the farthest I’ve been able to get on a single charge so far is 116 miles – and that was with it running on fumes, metaphorically speaking. 

That means there’s a discrepancy of up to 50 miles between what the car says it can do and what I’m actually achieving. As I said, that’s based on motorway runs with the adaptive cruise control set to a strict 70mph; the range could and should improve with more consistent urban use and as the days get warmer. Although I know what to expect in those situations now, it’s a shame the indicated range figure isn’t a bit more trustworthy.

MG ZS EV long term

The process of recharging the battery isn’t quite as straightforward as I’ve come to expect from experience with other EVs, either. Open the oversized (and very flimsy) flap in the bluff front grille and it completely blocks your view of the relatively low-mounted port, while the unusually rubbery plug protecting the port doesn't slide out all that easily. So, in order to get the charging cable plugged in, I end up having to crouch right down so that I can see what I’m doing – much to my knees’ delight. In most other EVs, whether the port is on the front or side of the car, you can see and access it much more easily.

MG ZS EV long term

Once the cable is plugged in, the large MG badge on the front grille glows to show that recharging is underway – clearly visible at night, less so in bright daylight. However, recharging doesn’t always start straight away; I’m getting quite used to seeing a ‘connected but not charging’ message on the instrument panel’s little info screen. This seems to depend on which type of charging point I’m using, and recharging usually begins eventually, but it’s frustrating, because I don’t want to walk away until I’m sure the battery is actually receiving electricity. 

Again, most of the other EVs I’ve run have been more reliable when it comes to starting the recharging process and have had clearer ways of indicating whether the juice is flowing or not. Still, it’s early days; I’m sure it’ll be fine once I get to grips with all of the ZS’s quirks.

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