MG ZS Electric Road Test Review – Electric Days ahead

The MG ZS EV is a subcompact crossover SUV produced by the Chinese-owned British automotive marque MG Motor. The MG ZS notably revives the name previously used on the saloon of the MG ZS, which was based on the Rover 45, and was produced by MG Motor’s predecessors MG Rover from 2001 to 2005.

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The MG ZS was announced in 2016, at the Guangzhou Auto Show in China and was subsequently launched in China, in March 2017. The MG ZS SUV was also shown at the Auto Shanghai Motor Show in April 2017, alongside the new concept, MG E-Motion. An all electric version made its debut as MG EZS at the 2018 Guangzhou Auto Show, and is now on sale in United Kingdom, Thailand, China, Brunei and The Netherlands. Except for China, the electric SUV is officially named as ZS EV, while the official name in China is EZS. The MG ZS EV will be the second SUV to be assembled and sold by MG Motor in India, the first being the larger MG Hector, which was launched earlier this year. Read on to know how the all-new electric offering from MG Motor fares.

 

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Design & Exterior.

On one hand, this is a good looking car with clean lines from an SUV standpoint. And on the other, as an EV – it has a subtle design with no prominent design cues of being an electric car. In fact, if it wasn’t for the EV badge anyone would discern this car to be a petrol/ diesel powered SUV. The ZS EV comes with an exclusive front grille, which to be very honest reminded us of the Mercedes diamond carbon grille. However, the deep concave grille looks amazing nonetheless and gives the front of the car a very energetic and pleasing face. The centre portion of the grille with the MG logo slides open to reveal the charging port which is neatly packed.

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The MG Logo glows when charging and stops when the charging is complete. The car comes with ‘London Eye’ headlights that’s what MG likes to call it. We think that this is derived/inspired from the Land rover Evoque (similar don’t you think!). One more thing MG should have provided is an all LED headlight unit. The projector headlights comes with normal halogen bulbs which in our opinion looks mighty out of place in an electric car.

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Look at it from the side and you’ll notice the length of ZS EV which is longer than the Hyundai Kona by a fair bit. Dimensionally, it’s similar to the Kia Seltos which puts the ZS EV right into the SUV league. But, it’s wheelbase of 2579mm though not noticeable is surprisingly 21mm shorter than that of the Kona’s. The best part about the ZS EV has to be the dual tone diamond cut windmill styled 17 inch alloys wheels shod with Michelin Primacy3 215/ 50 R17 tyres. Coming to the rear, the ZS EV comes equipped with racing taillights that provides bright illumination for enhanced visibility which has a bold and unique appearance. All variants come with rear parking sensors, while the Exclusive variant adds a rear-view camera too.

 

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Interiors, Infotainment & Safety.

Considering the price point of this car, the interiors are pretty classy compared to few of its counterparts. It comes with an 8-inch touchscreen standard infotainment with decent graphics and i-Smart ecosystem EV2.0. It has the other standard features such as radio and GPS navigation and a segment first in-car wi-fi/ hotspot support, apart from the standard built-in e-SIM support. Sadly, Apple CarPlay for Apple users and Android Auto for our android heads is missing due to some certification issues, but it’ll be made available soon by MG.

 

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The screen has a noticeable lag which may dampen user experience by a few notches. It’s still much better than what we get in the MG Hector. The multifunctional steering is wrapped with perforated stitched leather which is good to hold and is tilt adjustable only. The aircon vents near the windows offers 360 degrees rotation and are directly lifted from the Audi A3. The switches on the centre console are of high quality and tactile. Even the dashboard with silver finished inserts and chrome accents give the car a very sporty and upmarket feel.

 

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The electronic shift knob with a parking switch placed up top is simple and extremely easy to use. Also, the drive mode selector and KERS (kinetic energy regenerative system) is ergonomically placed. The driver seat is electronically adjustable while the front passenger gets a manually adjustable seat. The front seats are well bolstered and comfortable for long journeys while the rear seats are well spaced out with more than adequate legroom. However, the under thigh support could have been much better. Having said that, the interiors are roomier than most other cars with enough and more head room and leg room for taller folks.

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Additional features include a massive panoramic sky roof which covers almost 90% of the roof and an inbuilt air purifier with a PM2.5 filter which filters out harmful PM2.5 particles and improves the quality of air within the cabin. MG has left no stone unturned when it comes to safety of it’s occupants. The car comes equipped with 6 airbags, ESP & ABS, hill descent control + HSA, pedestrian alert system, emergency stop signal, ISOFIX child seat anchors and the first in class rear passenger seat belt reminder.

 

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E-Power Plant & Drive

The MG ZS EV comes with a 44.5 kWh ultra-high energy density ternary lithium battery which powers the three phase permanent magnet synchronous motor. Pushing out a healthy 143 PS @ 3500 RPM and churning out a meaty 353 NM of torque. It uses a type 2 plus CCS charger connector and takes about 6-8 hours to fully charge the battery with an estimated 7kW charge time. While the 50kW fast charger takes about 50 mins to charge the battery up to 80%.

 

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The motor is mated to an automatic transmission which can be operated via the given electronic knob drive selector. Press the throttle and the motor instantaneously sends power to the front wheels and builds up speeds like no one’s business. The company claims a sprint of 0-100 will take about 8.5 seconds and we totally agree with that.

 

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This is the best part about electric cars as they offers instant acceleration and 100% torque across the rev-band right from the word go! You don’t have to think twice before overtaking anyone on the road as the power and torque is available on demand unlike the internal combustion engines which needs to be in the right gear at the right RPM at any given time. Performance is impressive to say the least for the car of this size. The KERS (kinetic energy regenerative system) helps recharge the battery while decelerating and can be adjusted up to three levels (normal, moderate & high). Also, there are three power modes (eco, normal & sport) for additional power/ torque as and when needed.

 

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However, we found ourselves driving in the economy mode most of the time as performance of the car was more than adequate throughout our drive which included a mix of intercity and highway roads between Gurgaon and Noida. The steering too provided maximum assistance on low speeds and weighed up pretty well and offered good feedback as we build up speeds. All-in-all, the MG ZS EV turned out to be a great car to drive with decent ride and handling characteristics.

 

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Verdict

We think its pretty evident that the MG ZS EV will be a more cost effective car compared to its competition. Its a well-equipped car which comes with keyless push start, adaptive cruise control, leather trimmed steering and seating, panoramic sunroof depending on the variant one chooses as we drove one with all the bells and whistles. The thing to remember, though, is that the car offers much more space and practicality over its competition.

 

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Since, MG is known for its aggressive pricing we’re hoping that the ZS EV will be priced somewhere between ₹18.5-₹20.5 lakhs range. Now everything boils down to how well the MG ZS EV is priced compared to the other electric car currently available (Hyundai Kona) or will be available in the future (TATA Nexon EV).

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Words – Amit Shelar

Photography – Govind Gadekar

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