In one of our recent issues, we reviewed the new MG ZS Turbo. Its 1.3-litre turbocharged engine provided the five-seat crossover with ample power without racking up a sizeable fuel bill. But what if we told you that it has a cousin that consumes no fuel at all. Entire the MG ZS EV, an electric variant of the standard ZS that traded its internal combustion engine for an electric motor and a battery pack.
Same but different
The first thing that our readers will notice is that the exterior of the ZS EV is quite different from the ZS Turbo. That is because the ZS EV is still waiting on its facelift. This serendipity means the ZS looks like a scaled-down version of the upmarket HS. Allowing the EV to neatly slot in between the two models. Unlike almost all other battery electric vehicles in the market, MG bucked the trend and kept external design changes to a minimum. Making it quite a sneaky vehicle on the road. In fact, there are only three obvious ways one can identify a ZS EV. The first is the “EV” badge on the trunk lid, and the second is the 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels unique to the ZS EV. The last item is the missing fuel door, which has now been replaced by a charging port hidden under the car’s front grille. Undoing the latch under the front MG badge cause a portion of the grille to rise up, revealing a CCS (combined charging system) and a Type 2 charging port, later being capable of charging the 44.5kWh battery pack to 80 per cent in 45 minutes. It should be noted, according to MG staff, they currently do not offer an option for fast charger installation at home.
A familiar cabin
Much like the exterior, the changes inside the ZS EV are minimal. The one that immediately gets caught in the eye is the absence of a gear stick, which has been swapped out for a silver disk gear selector. Right on top of the disk are three silver toggle switches, controlling the car’s drive mode, regenerative braking and battery. The rest of the interior is pretty conventional and well equipped. The seats the upholstered in synthetic leather, with the driver enjoying six-way power adjustability and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with a plethora of buttons. The centre stack contains the controls for automatic climate controls and an eight-inch infotainment screen supporting both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both rows of passengers have access to USB charging ports as well as ample natural light thanks to the large panoramic sunroof. The sound system consists of two tweeters and four speakers, something our photographer says is very decent to listen to. The entire cabin is protected by a set of six airbags, and the car comes standard with MG Pilot suite. The suite contains a set of active safety features inducing but not limited to, adaptive cruise control, speed limit assists, active brake assist, traffic jam assists, blind-spot detection, lane keep assist and many more. The cargo bay of the ZS EV can hold a total of 359 litres of cargo, which can be expanded to 1187 litres by folding down the rear seats. Underneath the bay floor, one will find the emergency 240V three-pin portable eight-amp charger, capable of recharging the battery in 33 hours. Missing is the spare tire, as that had to go to make room for the battery. Instead, MG has thoughtfully included a tire sealant kit, along with an air compressor that can be powered using the 12-volt socket inside the cabin.
Unlike an internal combustion vehicle, the torque of an electric motor is powerful and instant. Which in the case of the MG ZS EV, makes for an interesting diving experience. In sport mode, flooring the throttle from a standstill will cause wheelspin, and the car will torque steer to the left. The 10 or so seconds it took us to reach triple-digit was certainly exciting, and it definitely felt like the motor had more to give. What kept us from finding out the top speed was the suspension. The comfort focus setup was very adapt at smoothing out all the bumps on the road at reasonable speeds, but at well over triple-digit, even the slightest change in direction caused the car to violently roll from side to side, firmly reminding us this is a family car first and performance machine never. For those who do not want that kind of excitement everytime they go out for a drive, there are two other driving modes. The Normal mode cuts down the acceleration significantly, and in Comfort mode, the ZS EV accelerates like any other modern internal combustion car. When it comes to slowing down, the ZS EV offers two options. The first one is the classic brake pedal, other being the kinetic energy recovery system, MG’s in-house name for regenerative braking. Much like the drive modes, it too has three settings, from very strong to non-eixtance. During our spirited runs, were pleasantly surprised by the cabin’s sound insulation. There were very little wind noise at high speed, and the sound dampening was about as par with the ZST at low speeds.
In a world where fuel prices are going off the roof and the world is getting hotter because of its use, the electric motor of the MG ZS EV provides a long-term economical and greener alternative to family commute. The MG ZS EV is one of the many vanguards of an era where vehicles will be quiet, emission-free, and most importantly for us petrolheads quicker than many 30-year-old supercars. At the time of the writing, the ZS EV are registered under Gha (ঘ) category and falls under the same tax bracket as a 1,500cc sedan. If you are looking for a family crossover that is cheap to run, comfortable, well equipped and will outrun most things on roads with ease in a straight line, the MG ZS EV might just be what you are looking for.