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MG ZS EV: Making a comeback as a contemporary crossover

By Ghaith Madadha - Feb 17,2020 - Last updated at Feb 17,2020

Photo courtesy of MG

Formerly used for the then British manufacturer’s sporty compact saloon circa 2001, the ZS nameplate was resurrected for service as the brand’s second crossover SUV since 2017, in MG’s modern incarnation as a Chinese car manufacturer. 

MG’s first ever electric vehicle for Middle East Markets in EV guise, the stylishly designed MG ZS EV is one of a handful of new vehicles that go to prove that China’s auto industry have made huge strides in design, quality, drivability, refinement and technology in recent years.

Stylish design

Seemingly well-able to make world class cars and to make them popular with the right branding strategy, MG is probably the most easily marketable of its SAIC parent company’s brands in foreign markets. Drawing on MG’s — or Morris Garages’ — deep history dating back to 1924, the MG ZS EV also crucially gets the right design and is more than just an affordable car. With its creased character lines and surfacing, fashionably descending roofline, big alloy wheels and assertive rear haunches, the ZS EV bears MG’s new Emotional Dynamism design language similarly employed by MGs.

Featuring slim swept back headlights browed with LED lighting strips, the ZS also receives a prominently bulging bonnet and elegantly snouty and wide grille. Aesthetically reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Lincoln Aviator, the MG ZS EV’s diamond-style grille mesh incorporates an opening panel and plug from which its 44.5kW/h batteries can be charged. Adapted from the regular combustion engine ZS, the EV model features a front-mounted electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed automatic gearbox, while its batteries are positioned at the rear.

 

Seamless and plentiful

 

Trading its standard ZS 1.5-litre petrol engine for an electric motor and 44.5kWh battery pack, the ZS EV returns 13.8kWh/100km energy consumption. Driven mainly in heavy Dubai traffic where an EV has an advantage over combustion engine vehicles, the ZS EV seemed to hold its charge well. On paper, it boasts a range of up to 335km on the NEDC cycle or more at a steady 60km/h. But such a speed does not reflect real world driving, and one can expect that range to drop somewhat at higher speeds, colder weather, steeper inclines and more aggressive acceleration. 

Developing 147BHP peak power and a massive 258lb/ft torque most of which is seemingly available across it rev range, the ZS EV launches muscularly yet near silently off the line. With its front wheels scrambling with torque-steer to find grip before traction control steps in to regulate the torrent of torque if launched aggressively, the ZS EV is capable of hauling its 1,460kg mass from standstill to 100km/h briskly in 8.2-seconds. Smooth and seamless in delivery, the ZS EV’s single-speed gearbox does, however, limit top speed to 140km/h, which is perfectly adequate for most legal limits.

Smooth and responsive

 

With its abundant torque output, the ZS EV drives with immediate responses at lowers speeds and mighty mid-speed flexibility for overtaking and climbing inclines, speed accumulation is rapid at lower speeds, but its rate of acceleration trails off slightly at highway speeds. The ZS EV meanwhile features different driving modes including a more energy-conserving, sportier and default modes, and can recapture kinetic energy and store it as electricity through its regenerative brakes. Its regenerative brakes also have different resistance settings depending whether one needs more free-wheeling freedom or added resistance in traffic and on hill descents.

Riding on MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, the ZS EV rides smoothly and feels stable and planted when cruising. Comfortable over bumps, its 215/50R17 offer enough compliancy and a fair level of grip. A settled drive with decent body control given its height and weight, the front-wheel-drive ZS EV’ massive and immediate torque makes it susceptible to under-steer if pushed too hard into a corner, while its heavy batteries increase its weight at the rear. Steering is meanwhile light, quick and accurate if not laden with intuitive feel and feedback.

 

Comfortable cabin

 

Refined, quiet and well-insulated inside, the ZS EV is offers a comfortable environment and good level of practicality with decent passenger space for a compact crossover, while boot space is good given the area lost to its big battery pack. Visibility, seating position and comfort again stack up in the ZS EV’s favour. Benefitting from reduced import duties as an EV in Jordan, the ZS EV charges to full capacity in 7.5-hours using a specific domestic wall charger, but it can be charged to 80 per cent in 40-minutes when using a high capacity fast charging point.

Clean, business-like and uncluttered inside, the ZS EV’s business-like cabin features decent materials and textures for its expectedly keen pricing once it arrives in Jordan. Controls are meanwhile user-friendly and within easy reach.

Well-equipped, the ZS EV comes with a host of driver assistance systems including adaptive high beam sights, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure, keeping and change assistance. Equipment also includes rear parking sensors and camera, front, side and curtain airbags and an 8-inch screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: Front-mounted electric synchronous motor

Gearbox: single-speed automatic, front-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]:147.5 (149.5) [110]

Power-to-weight: 101BHP/tonne

Torque lb/ft (Nm): 258 (350)

Torque-to-weight: 239.7Nm/tonne 

0-50km/h: 3.1-seconds

0-100km/h: 8.2-seconds

Top speed: 140km/h

Driving range, city/NEDC/WLTP: /335/263km 

Energy consumption: 13.8kWh/100km

Charging, AC, full/DC fast charger, 0-80 per cent: 7.5hr/40-min

Battery: Lithium-ion, 44.5kWh

Length: 4,314mm

Width: 1,809mm 

Height: 1,648mm

Wheelbase: 2,585mm

Track, F/R: 1,526/1,539mm

Kerb weight: 1,460kg

Headroom, F/R: 1,043/995mm

Legroom, F/R: 1,070/920mm

Shoulder room, F/R: 1,385/1,368mm

Hiproom, F/R: 1,426/1,422mm

Steering: Electric-assisted rack and pinion

Turning circle: 11.2-metres

Suspension F/R: MacPherson struts/torsion beam

Brake, F/R: Ventilated discs/discs, regenerative

Tyres: 215/50R17

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