MG ZS EV 2021 essence

2021 MG ZS EV long-term review: Team feedback

$40,990 Mrlp
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Our team became well-acquainted with the MG ZS EV. Here's what they had to say about Australia's most affordable electric vehicle.
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We have had the 2021 MG ZS EV in the CarAdvice garage for quite some time, six months to be exact. It turns out this is a sufficient amount of time for the team to become well-acquainted with Australia's most affordable EV (which, as you'll see is a bit of a theme), and in many cases was the first electric car that some of the broader team have driven. So what did the Sydney office think about the ZS EV? Check out their feedback below.

Justin Narayan – Senior Journalist

The thing that surprised me most was value. It doesn't feel cheap, despite being Australia's most affordable electric SUV.

The cabin is well put together, and there are plenty of digital displays and screens everywhere making it feel like a mature product. On top of those techy points, there are some luxury items bolstering its value equation, like its opening panoramic sunroof.

In terms of delivering against the EV brief, it met expectations with regard to range and charging times. What I didn't like was the ride quality, which will require extra fettling to get right. It can feel coarse and bumpy over roads that are seemingly smooth, but that's as bad as the negatives get with the MG ZS EV.

Rob Margeit – Culture and Lifestyle Editor

For me, the overriding thing about the MG ZS EV is its affordability. It's the cheapest EV available in Australia right now, and tantalisingly within reach of plenty of everyday Aussie families. Electric vehicles, once the playthings of the wealthy and woke, have been democratised by a Chinese carmaker.
And yet, despite its relative affordability, there's nothing cheap about the ZS EV, which is brimming with the kind of standard inclusions often reserved for the options lists of more established brands. It also drives pretty decently with some pep, and more than enough for around town.
I also like its realistic range. MG quotes around 260km of range between refills, and over the time the ZS EV spent in our hands, it consistently hit that range, or as near to it, time and time again. Not every EV maker can make that claim.
One final bouquet – I love the fact it doesn't look like an EV, and instead resembles a regular run-of-the-mill small SUV. No virtue signalling here.
On the downside, despite its affordability, some of the materials used in the cabin feel a little flimsy and cheap. We also experienced issues with Apple CarPlay requiring a trip back to the MG workshop. Fixed easily enough, but worth noting. Also worth noting, this can and does happen with plenty of other brands, some with pretty premium positioning, in the new-car marketplace.
And the ride seems a little fidgety, certainly in the inner-city confines I spent most of my time with the ZS EV. Still, these are relatively minor gripes from a fledgling brand and nascent technology.

Sam Purcell – Off-road Editor

Putting aside the whole ‘cheapest EV on the market’ argument for a moment, the MG ZS EV has a few other things going for it.

While 105kW is decent, the 353Nm is the more important figure to ponder for a town car. The torque is on tap instantly, and gives this little blue number some usable punch around town.

And through the adjustable ‘KERS’ button by the gearshifter, I was able to get one-pedal driving working smoothly enough around town. While other small SUVs do ride and steer better than the MG, I found it good enough for the purpose of a small town-bound SUV.

One potential negative for the ZS EV is highway driving range, which did take a bit of a beating on a longer highway run. Over 75km of highway driving, I used up around 100km of range – nearly half a tank. Wait, not a tank. A bank, maybe?

Electric motors clearly aren’t operating at their most efficient at higher speeds, and pushing the little MG through the air at 100km/h clearly has its effect. Also, you can see how beneficial the small bursts of recharging through braking – which happens more often around town – can be.

This highway range reduction isn’t something only experienced in the MG. All electric vehicles will suffer a similar fate to varying degrees. But it’s worth keeping in mind, especially if you’re moving into one from a petrol- or diesel-powered vehicle.

Otherwise, the MG is a good little town jigger. My kids fit in the back quite happily (and they love a sunroof), and we had enough room in the boot for a big load of groceries.

2021 MG ZS EV
Power and torque105kW / 353Nm
TransmissionSingle-speed automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Kerb weight1532kg
Boot volume359L / 1187L
Turning circle11.2m
ANCAP safety rating5-stars (tested 2019)
Warranty5 years / unlimited km (battery is 8 years / 160,000km)
Motor countSingle
Battery size44.5kWh
Driving range263km (WLTP)
Charging time80 per cent capacity in 40 mins on a 50kW fast-charger
Tow rating braked, unbrakedUnrated
Main competitorsHyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq

Trent Nikolic – Managing Editor

In terms of being Australia's most affordable electric vehicle, the MG ZS EV does exactly what it says on the box, so it is the most affordable and it is good value for money. It hasn't been all roses for us, though, as we've had a few minor issues – the infotainment system has glitched in and out a few times, which MG sorted out.
The other area I think MG can really improve this offering is the ride. The suspension, especially at the rear, on bad road surfaces around town is quite harsh and firm. I think if they work on the damping and bump absorption specifically, it'd be a lot better to drive, especially on uneven road surfaces. Having said that, it's fine when it's on a nice smooth road.
I guess the other question that you need to answer, the longer you drive this car, is whether the range works for you. We focused on the ZS EV as primarily a compact city vehicle, and it's fair to say that a range in the mid 200s does make sense for a city vehicle.
The fact that MG has put this on sale aggressively in Australia, as the most affordable electric vehicle on the market, makes a statement. It democratises electric vehicle ownership, probably better than any other EV has, because it's now more accessible to more people.
It's not perfect, but it feels like good value for money, it does what you expect it to do, and it makes sense if you're buying an electric vehicle on a budget.

Lucas Kennedy – Senior Video Producer

The appeal of a brand-new car has never been so alluring with MG pricing its SUV range so competitively. The brand has taken a page out of Kia and Hyundai's book to get bums in seats, and when you consider the environmental advantages of an electric car future, I hope all brands can follow suit.

Driving the ZS EV around town doesn't need a second thought. In fact, if you drive in Eco mode with the regenerative braking at its highest level, you don't really need a second pedal. The brake becomes something you only need to use when stopping at the lights.
There are a few quirks of the ZS EV you get in other electric cars, like not being 100 per cent sure you have the ignition on properly until you get it moving, and remembering to switch it off when jumping out of the almost silent-running vehicle.
The electric car's evolution reminds me of moving from a Nokia 5110 to an iPhone. The old brick with curved edges would last for a week without being charged. Now we don't bat an eyelid when our smartphone battery is low at 6pm. We changed as the technology evolved, and the MG ZS EV is part of the electric car revolution.