Compared to other EVs, the 2021 MG ZS EV goes for a song at $43,990 drive-away.
The casual automotive observer might wonder how MG, having only recently returned to the market, has been able to get the jump on some of the big players yet to enter the electric vehicle space.
SAIC Motor, China’s largest listed automotive company, was formed in 1997 and is behind MG’s resurgence.
In 2019, SAIC Motor topped the Chinese domestic market with a 22.7 per cent share, which is the sort of dominance that has taken Toyota over 50 years to achieve in Australia. It’s also one of only a handful of companies that produces batteries for EVs in-house.
What driving range does the 2021 MG ZS EV have?
The 2021 MG ZS EV is based on the recently launched MG ZST SUV, which featured a raft of improvements in build quality, standard features and ride and handling compared to the previous ZS. Replacing the petrol engine is an electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm. A 44.5kWh lithium-ion battery delivers a claimed range of 263km and charging is via a CCS2 socket mounted in the centre of the grille behind the iconic badge. The battery can be charged overnight using a conventional power outlet and a fast charger can reduce time to around 45 minutes for an 80 per cent charge.
There are three drive modes (eco, normal and sport) and three levels of regenerative braking, selected via a switch in the centre console. The EV mechanical package adds around 50kg more than the petrol version.
How much does the 2021 MG ZS EV cost?
Importantly, the ZS EV takes the crown as currently the most affordable EV in our market, with drive-away pricing of $43,990. It clips almost $5000 off the price of the next most affordable electric car, Hyundai’s Ioniq Elite, which admittedly has a greater range of 311km. Unlike the rest of the MG range with a seven-year warranty, the EV is five years unlimited, with the in-house-built battery carrying an eight-year 160,000km warranty.
MG’s safety suite includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist assistance, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, headlamp beam control, rear blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control. While not safety tested here, the ZS EV gained a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2019.
The only exterior visual clues separating the EV from the rest of the MG range are unique design 17-inch alloys and the option of metallic Clipper Blue paint (pictured).
Inside, like the ZST, the finishes are high quality, but the eight-inch info display is smaller than the ZST’s. The set-up works well ergonomically, despite a fiddly touchscreen to adjust settings, and regenerative braking modes that would have benefited from being on paddles behind the wheel rather than a switch in the centre console. A rotary dial replaces the traditional gear selector in the centre console.
How does the 2021 MG ZS EV drive?
Our time behind the wheel was limited to the confines of Greater Sydney, likely the EV’s more natural habitat where range is less of an issue. The ZS EV moves sweetly off the mark in sport mode and acceleration feels close to the Hyundai Ioniq we reviewed in 2018. We preferred the maximum regenerative braking mode, which could do with being even more aggressive to minimise the use of the conventional braking system.
The suspension has been revised for the EV’s extra weight and the setup feels sporty and engaging. Compared to a normal vehicle, most small EVs in our market have a lower centre of gravity and a more even spread of weight between the front and rear axles. Less weight over the nose gives the ZS EV great performance through the bends. After driving 100km in sport mode we returned to MG Alexandria with 164km of range remaining.
The MG ZS EV has made the electric proposition more affordable to many buyers, sacrificing little in the way of features, safety, build and finish quality, and driveability. With the backing of a giant like SAIC Motor, it’s no surprise that MG has achieved so much in so little time.
Pros: Integrated feel to the whole package
Cons: Regenerative modes would be better operated with paddle shifters