New MG ZS EV review (2022): Still the best budget electric SUV?

The new MG ZS EV attempts to build on the success of its predecessor, which we found to be a great value all-electric SUV back in 2020. The updated model has a revamped interior and exterior design, and is also sold with either a 51kWh or 73kWh battery pack.

This has undoubtedly driven up the vehicle’s asking price, to the extent where its top-spec configuration now competes with the Kia e-Niro, Kia Soul EV and Hyundai Kona Electric, all of which are excellent, affordable electric SUVs.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the new MG ZS EV, head on over to our YouTube channel.

New MG ZS EV price & competition

At the time of writing, the new ZS EV comes in three trim levels, all of which are offered with the smaller and larger battery packs: SE (£27,495), Trophy (£29,995), Trophy Connect (£30,495), SE Long Range (£29,495), Trophy Long Range (£33,495), Trophy Connect Long Range (£33,995) – the latter being on review.

A detailed breakdown of the differences between the trim levels can be found on MG Motor’s website, but we’ll touch upon the differences throughout this review.

We should also point out that all but the Trophy Long Range and Trophy Connect Long Range, qualify for the £1,500 Government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG); this figure has been taken off the listed price that we have quoted above. This has had a knock-on effect on all EVs sold in the UK, whereby in 2020, the ZS EV started from £25,495; £3,000 was shaved off thanks to the grant. In essence, MG Motor has only increased the price by £500 in two years – the entry-level SE would have cost £25,995 had the PiCG remained at £3,000.

New MG ZS EV review

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As for competition, there are numerous all-electric SUVs available: the Kia Soul EV, e-Niro ‘2 64’ and the Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64 kWh, the Skoda Enyaq iV 60 and Volkswagen ID.4 all come in at around £34,995. Then, you’ve got the Mazda MX-30 SE-L Lux from £26,650, the Vauxhall Mokka-e from £29,365, the Citroen e-C4 from £29,995, the Peugeot e-2008 from £33,265, and the MG5 EV, an all-electric estate, that starts from £27,945.

Read next: Hyundai Ioniq 5 review: Better than Tesla Model 3?

New MG ZS EV exterior review

From the exterior, the new ZS EV certainly looks the part as its updated design is more in-line with other electrified vehicles, namely from the front, where one can draw many similarities to the Hyundai Kona Electric. Its aesthetics won’t be to everyone’s liking, however, as the removal of the front grille seems to divide opinion.

Nevertheless, we suspect many won’t have complaints about its rear or side profile. The 17” alloys that come fitted as standard on all trim levels give it a sportier edge, while the uniform boot design coupled with the stylish taillights provide a modern look. A small niggle, however, is that the automaker still hasn’t provided body-coloured wheel arches or side skirts – a small point to make as rival manufacturers are equally at fault here, too.

As for your colour options, ‘Arctic White’ comes as standard, while ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Monument Silver’, and the pictured ‘Battersea Blue’ are an additional £545, while the ‘Dynamic Red’ finish costs an extra £695.

Read next: Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review: A powerful luxury electric SUV

New MG ZS EV interior review

It’s not only the exterior of the vehicle that’s had a redesign, as the interior of the cabin also looks rather dashing and yet, still retains one key factor – practicality. Unlike many of its rivals that opt for touch-sensitive controls, MG Motor has retained the use of physical climate and media controls with the use of small levers positioned under the centre-weighted display, and buttons on the steering wheel; this makes for bettered user interaction while on the move over manufacturers who omit such controls, such as the Volkswagen Group.

There are certain controls, however, that still require the use of the display – such as the air circulation toggle. Thankfully, the 10.1” screen is responsive, easy to navigate and supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in a wired format.

To connect up to the system, there are USB Type-C and Type-A ports found towards the front of the centre console, where you’ll also find a 12V socket and a wireless phone charging pad – the latter being present in the Trophy trims, only. Cleverly, MG has also placed a USB Type-A port by the rearview mirror, which makes it extremely useful to power a dash cam; one doesn’t have to have a trailing cable from the dashboard down to the 12V socket. At the rear, there’s also a singular Type-C and Type-A port for charging.

On the subject of technology, there’s now also a fully digitalized instrument cluster. The driver’s display provides all the key information but alas can’t be customised nor does it integrate navigation data from the supported third-party mobile operating systems. Note, there’s no option to add a Head-up Display, which we feel would have bolstered driving safety.

As for audio, the new ZS EV has a four- or six-speaker configuration, where the bettered audio system is present in the Trophy line-up, only. If you’d like to hear how the six-speaker system sounds, watch our detailed review on YouTube.

New MG ZS EV storage review

Moving onto storage, there’s an ample amount of space within the cabin. At the front, the door bins are large enough to accommodate a 500ml bottle and valuables, while the glove box and centre console area make it convenient to stow away good from prying eyes. It’s a little limited at the rear of the cabin, as the door bins are relatively small, and there’s no area within the rear segment of the centre console to place smaller valuables.

Thankfully, if you don’t have a rear middle occupant, the pull-down armrest reveals two cupholders, which also have a clever cover that prevents coffee cups from flying forwards in the event of heavy braking.

As for the boot, there’s 448 litres with the seats propped up, and 1,166 litres with them folded flat. Here’s how it compares to a few of its all-electric competitors: Skoda Enyaq iV (585/1,710 litres); Hyundai Ioniq 5 (520/1,587 litres); VW ID.4 (543/1,575 litres); MG5 EV estate (464/1,456 litres); Kia e-Niro (451/1,405 litres); Kia EV6 (490/1,300 litres); Peugeot e-2008 (434/1,467 litres); Kia Soul EV (315/1,339 litres); Citroen e-C4 (380/1,250 litres); Mazda MX-30 (341/1,146 litres); Hyundai Kona Electric (332/1,114 litres).

It’s great to see MG has retained a practical underfloor compartment area for your charging cables and side bays to place smaller luggage. It is a sham, however, that the new ZS EV still uses a 60:40 split, which doesn’t make it as convenient as those that integrate a 40:20:40 split or a ski latch.

Similarly, the tailgate is manually-operated, where there’s no option to fit an electronically-operated boot. On that note, we find the hydraulics that have been chosen to be a little stiff, which means you’ll need to exert a little more energy when closing the rear compartment; it’s not as light or as easy to shut as its rivals. Elsewhere, there’s no frunk (front storage) space, as the motor in the ZS EV is placed at the front of the vehicle.

Read next: Skoda Enyaq iV review: The Volkswagen ID.4 alternative

New MG ZS EV comfort review

This brings us to comfort, where we found ourselves baffled by an audible ticking noise that can be heard from the front of the cabin. The noise occurs when you have the climate controls enabled, and upon research, we don’t seem to be the only ones that have noticed the issue. You can hear it for yourself on our YouTube channel, Instagram feed or TikTok page.

That aside, the new ZS EV has comfortable and accommodating seats, where the front two are manually adjustable or in the Trophy range, are electronically controlled and heated, too. In the latter model, there’s also a panoramic glass roof, where at the front there’s an electronic sunroof. Better still, a retractable electronically-operated sunshade comes fitted as standard, where it spans the entire length of the glass roof.

As for headroom and legroom, it’s plentiful no matter where you’re sat, here 6-foot 4-inches (193cm) individuals won’t feel henned in, where there’s sufficient amount of room for the rear middle occupant, too.

We should also comment on the vehicle’s cabin noise, which is acceptable for a vehicle of its class; it certainly provides better insulation than the likes of the Kia Soul EV, but isn’t comparable to its other all-electric rivals.

Read next: Tesla Model 3 review (2021 facelift): Should you buy into the hype?

New MG ZS EV performance review

Another area where the MG can’t compete with the vast majority of its rivals is in ride comfort. The new ZS EV’s suspension setup is much like its predecessor, where it’s a little stiff. Indeed, one can feel potholes, speed bumps and the anomalies of the road whilst driving; its stiffened configuration does also result in low-end reverberation, which can be heard at the front of the cabin, further dampening the in-cabin experience.

On the other hand, the firmer ride does yield better results when cornering. Granted one can still feel a bit of body roll, but it’s minimal for a vehicle of its class. Note, this shouldn’t be confused with the driver’s input, which still feels a little disjointed – it won’t provide that one-to-one driver’s feel and fun factor that one can attain in the BMW iX3 and Jaguar I-Pace.

New MG ZS EV wheels

Similarly, its front-wheel drive (FWD) system doesn’t instil the same level of confidence as rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles; much like the Kia e-Niro, Kia Soul EV, Citroen e-C4, and Hyundai Kona Electric it’ll slip in the wet. Of course, this only occurs when you’re putting your foot down to the metal in trickier scenarios, and suspect most owners won’t be pushing the new ZS EV to its limits.

Speaking of which, the Long Range models have a rated output of 115 kW (154 hp), while the smaller battery pack variants surprisingly offer more power, where they’re rated at 130 kW (174 hp), instead. Both have 280Nm of readily-available torque, and have a top speed of 108mph. We had the Trophy Connect Long Range tested using Racelogic’s Vbox Sport, where we attained 60mph from a standstill in a mere 7.28 seconds.

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While straight-line speed is important for some, we suspect many will want to know how it fares in our mixed driving tests. Here, the manufacturer offers two battery pack sizes: 51.1 kWh (49 kWh net) and 72.6 kWh (68.3 kWh net). In the former configuration, we attained 150-160 miles of range, while with the latter 230-250 miles. Of course, you could attain closer to the manufacturer’s 273-mile claim should you drive very conservatively within city routes, and equally attain far less if you are to solely drive on the motorway.

Nonetheless, the Long Range model is on par with more expensive alternatives, such as the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Pro and BMW iX3, and isn’t far off some of its closer competitors, such as the Audi Q4 e-tron, the Kia e-Niro, the Kia Soul EV, the Hyundai Kona Electric, and the Volkswagen ID.4, which all achieve 260 miles of range in our mixed driving tests. The Skoda Enyaq iV 80, however, still stands out in the all-electric SUV market with its 300-mile tested range.

New MG ZS EV gear selector

In order to recoup energy back into the battery back, you can use regenerative braking to conserve energy; through the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) switch, which can be found by the rotary gear selector by the centre console you can flick between Level 1, 2, and 3, with the latter being the harshest out of the bunch. It is disappointing, however, that MG still doesn’t provide a means of driving with one pedal only; even in its harshest state, the vehicle still crawls at slower speeds, which means you still need to resort to using the physical brake pedal to come to a complete standstill.

That aside, the new ZS EV can recoup energy far quicker when plugged into a DC rapid charger. Using its CCS port, one can attain up to 92 kW of input, where 0-80% charge can be attained in just 42 minutes (36 minutes in the 49 kWh model). Opt for a 50 kW charger instead and it’ll take roughly one hour instead.

New MG ZS EV charging

As for AC chargers, which are commonly found at home or work with a Type 2 plug, it’ll take 10hrs 30mins or eight hours on the 68.3 kWh and 49 kWh models, respectively. Note, the former model also has an 11 kW onboard charger (up from 6.6 kW from the standard variant) meaning the charge time can be brought down using a three-phase charger.

Elsewhere, the new ZS EV has Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) charging capabilities with a max discharge rate of 2.2 kW. This allows you to use the vehicle’s battery to charge another electric vehicle or household appliance, which can be useful when camping. However, you’ll need to purchase an adapter from an approved MG dealer; we weren’t provided with it, so couldn’t test the feature.

Read next: Kia Soul EV review: Better than Kia e-Niro & VW ID.3?

New MG ZS EV safety review

When it comes to safety, the older-generation ZS EV was tested by Euro NCAP, where it achieved 5/5 stars in the rigorous crash tests. However, the rating validity hasn’t been updated with the facelift variant; one can only imagine it’ll score the same given the systems and the vehicle haven’t drastically changed.

As for the driving assistance systems, all trims levels have: Active Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Intelligent High Beam Assist, Hill Launch Assist (HLA), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Adaptive Cruise Control.

The semi-autonomous driving system does try to alleviate the stress when driving on the motorway, however, we found the system to be a little hit and miss whereby it wouldn’t always correctly judge the distance from the leading vehicle. As such, you might find the vehicle accelerating or decelerating more than it should, and equally drifting to the left and right between the white lines.

The Trophy models also add Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Lane Change Assist (LCA), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), which are both appreciated and work well in their respective environments.

As for visibility, it’s excellent throughout the cabin, where unlike the Vauxhall Mokka-e we had no issues with frontal vision. It’s also pleasing to see MG has integrated rear parking sensors and 360-degree cameras as standard. While the cameras don’t provide a high-resolution image of your surroundings, it’s better than nothing.

New MG ZS EV TotallyEV award

Read next: Polestar 2 review: The all-electric muscle car

TotallyEV’s verdict on the new MG ZS EV

Even though we reviewed the Trophy Connect Long Range, we’d encourage you to look at the SE or the SE Long Range models instead. Granted the cheapest trim level won’t get you the added driver assistance features, a panoramic glass roof, two extra speakers within the cabin, rain-sensing wipers, a wireless phone charger, or electric and heated leather-style front seats, it will, however, give you the same range, performance, storage capacity, and design of the Trophy and Trophy Connect models.

Indeed, MG Motor still offers a feature-packed all-electric SUV in its entry-level model, where at £27,495 for the SE, and £29,495 for the SE Long Range, it’s comparatively cheaper than its competitors. As a result, it receives TotallyEV’s Value award.

How do you think the MG ZS EV stacks up to its rivals? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
9
Features
9
Storage space
10
Driving comfort
7
Performance
8
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Christopher is an avid car enthusiast and techie. In his spare time, he reviews the latest consumer electronic products on his YouTube channel, TotallydubbedHD. Elsewhere, he practices Taekwondo, in which he has held a black belt for several years and coaches at a national level. He also speaks fluent English, French, Armenian, and loves to practice freestyle street dance.
The MG ZS EV is an affordable all-electric SUV that ticks almost every box. It's stylish, spacious and has plenty of features as standard and as a result, it gets TotallyEV's Value award.new-mg-zs-ev-review-still-the-best-budget-electric-suv

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