The MG ZS EV is one of the best electric vehicles you can buy for the money.
With an increased range, upgraded interior and ever-solid practicality, the new 2023 version continues to make a great case for itself.
Reasons to buy:
One of the most affordable electric SUVs on the market
High-end and comfortable interior
Electric range up to 273 miles
Despite being the largest electric model (and one of the cheapest) that MG makes, the ZS EV doesn’t skimp on interior quality. In fact, this is the most technologically-advanced MG ever made, and it feels like it.
When SAIC Motors took over the brand in 2007, it made several changes, with one being an interior overhaul, which can be noted in this model.
When sat in the driver’s seat, you’re greeted by two large screens – a digital cockpit that’s new on facelifted models, and a larger 10.1-inch screen that sits flush in the centre of the dashboard, which controls everything.
If the ZS’s infotainment system was a hairstyle, it would be a mullet – business at the front, party in the back. The driver’s screen at the front shows all the relevant information you need to know while driving such as your speed, adaptive cruise control settings, range, current drive mode and how much of the car’s battery power you’re using at any one time.
The central screen, however, is where the fun stuff lives, notably Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, settings, air-con, the inbuilt sat-nav and even a view of your front wheels when turning a corner to avoid kerbing them.
This all works rather well. It isn’t the most responsive system out there, but it doesn’t lag and offers crisp quality when viewing your maps.
One of the changes brought to the updated model for 2023 is the removal of almost all buttons and knobs across the dashboard except for a row directly below the screen. Now, this does create a cleaner look, but it makes using it while driving a little tricky at times.
This is because if you want to alter the air-con settings, you lose sight of your maps, which can be problematic. It would be much simpler to have kept the dials from the older car, but we understand minimalism is king when designing a car interior these days.
While we’re touching on our least favourable bits, there are two other niggles that are worth mentioning inside the ZS EV.
The first is that to adjust the mirrors, you have to reach to the right underside of the steering wheel. Why it couldn’t be on the driver’s door like almost every other car, we’re not sure.
The other is the seating position. If you like being up high then the ZS is for you, but if you prefer to sit lower for a sportier feel, taller drivers will find it harder to see out due to a relatively narrow windscreen.
Overall, thanks to its airy cabin and five-seat layout, the ZS EV is a perfect place to be on those longer motorway journeys while blasting all your favourite songs through its crisp six-speaker sound system.
If the ZS’s infotainment system was a hairstyle, it would be a mullet – business at the front, party in the back
MG’s ZS EV isn’t like a Tesla or a high-performing sports SUV in the way it drives, and that’s no bad thing – just because a new car is electric, that doesn’t mean it needs to give you a headache every time you accelerate.
The standard petrol ZS model struggles to compete with its rivals when it comes to powertrains and looks. But when MG switched out the engine for batteries and spruced up the styling, the world was gifted something so easy to drive it makes brushing your teeth in the morning feel like quantum mechanics.
We tested the Standard Range Trophy model finished in the dashing Battersea Blue colourway, and with this you get a 174hp motor that’s powered by a 51.1kWh battery, offering a claimed 198 miles of range.
After living with it for a few days, we can confirm it lives up to this range. It can sit quite happily at 70mph on the motorway with adaptive cruise control enabled, using minimal battery and making the actual driving incredibly easy.
When the battery needed to be topped-up, we hooked it up to the nearest fast charger and it returned 19.52kWh of battery (43% to 81%) in just 23 mins.
One of the main reasons the new ZS EV can be so consistent with its range is thanks to its lithium-ion batteries being water-cooled, making them more efficient in all weather conditions while optimising performance at the same time.
Saying that, it was tested in the 25-degree heat of the Oxfordshire countryside, so conditions were ideal.
If you want a bit more range, you can opt for the top-spec Trophy Connect Long Range model that comes with a slightly less powerful 153hp motor but a larger 72.6kWh battery with a stonking claimed range of 273 miles – not far off the Tesla Model Y.
No matter which model you get, there’s a nifty feature to squeeze as much range out of the battery pack as possible – different driving modes.
The different driving modes are Eco, Normal and Sport – we’d always recommend driving in Eco mode because it’s the most efficient and still offers plentiful performance. We wouldn’t bother with Normal because the performance gains are minimal and you get less range.
If you need to overtake on the motorway, Sport mode will sort you out. Just prepare yourself if you’re new to EVs (electric vehicles), because the instant torque shoved to the front wheels could be a tyre-screeching, understeering disaster if you’ve never experienced it before – even in a 1.6-tonne family SUV.
Its light steering and advanced MG Pilot driver assistance system, coupled with its superb KERS regenerative braking system, means driving the ZS EV is one of the easiest things in the world, not to mention incredibly relaxing – even in London rush-hour traffic.
When it comes to parking, you benefit from a 360-degree camera that shows you all angles of the car from a birds-eye view, which is especially helpful when navigating tight car parks or towing a caravan.
All SUVs are practical, that’s just a fact. And if they aren’t, then they’re about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
The ZS is no exception – it’s very practical. There’s plenty of space for up to five people, with decent legroom in the rear and a tall ceiling, even with the large panoramic sunroof.
You also get ISOFIX child seat points on the rear seats, so carrying around the little ones is that bit easier and safer. The height of the vehicle also makes it easier to slide car seats in and out, saving your forehead and lower back.
Its boot measures 470 litres, which is plenty for a few large suitcases and soft bags, or – as we demonstrated – a large dining room table (once the rear seats are folded flat).
Unfortunately, you don’t get a front boot (also known as a ‘froot’ or ’frunk’) in the ZS EV like you do with many of its competitors because that’s where the batteries sit, but the boot and rear seats more than make up for this.
One of the main talking points regarding electric vehicles is cost. As Brits, we are infatuated by how much everything costs, from charging and purchase costs of EVs to cocktail prices abroad, but this stuff is important to know.
What MG has somehow been able to do is offer the ZS EV with a starting price of less than £30,000 brand-new, which, in itself, is witchcraft considering the tech you get for the money.
But opt for a nearly-new used example and you can expect to pay around £16,000, which proves how competitive electric MG prices are across the board.
As for charging costs, these will vary depending on where you plug in. Charge it at home and you can expect to pay around 34p/kWh, but use a public 100kW fast charger and this will increase to around 75p/kWh.
When we charged it for 23 minutes at around 50kWh, we paid about £15 using our cinchCharge card, which isn't too bad for an extra 40-odd miles of range.
Is it cheaper than petrol or diesel? That depends on where and when you charge it, but going electric certainly makes sense for those living in cities or those in the countryside who can benefit from overnight charging.
Another great money-related benefit of buying an electric MG is that every model comes from the factory with a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty that can be transferred to subsequent owners, making a used example a no-brainer.
You know what they say: ‘Watch the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves’.
Written by Ben Welham
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The MG ZS EV would be a great option for anyone searching for an all-electric SUV.
Whether you’re a family, couple or single dog owner, you’re going to fall in love with this car.
Not only is it massively practical for most people, but it also offers an impressive range, shedloads of tech and a price point that can’t be ignored.
So, calling everyone and their aunt’s cousin – buy an MG ZS EV if you want a solid electric family car.
This review was