We really do enjoy driving pure electric cars, that is ones without any assistance from other power sources such as petrol or diesel.
So, when the MG ZS EV was updated in September with increased driving range and a few minor changes, it was a good excuse to borrow one for a week.
Our test vehicle was the entry level ZS EV Excite, priced from $44,990 driveaway.
The premium Essence model is $48,990 driveaway.
These prices are pretty low for pure electric vehicles, but that’s because they have smaller batteries, which means they have a shorter range.
Advocates of renewable energy generally agree that the ‘crossover point’ when the cost of producing electric cars becomes the same as that of internal combustion engine vehicles will be 2026 — perhaps earlier.
This Chinese/British vehicle has the sort of shape that will appeal to buyers in just about any country.
Sitting on 17-inch alloys, it’s neat with a large ‘radiator-grille’ at the front.
Like some other EV makers, MG isn’t keen on making it look as though it doesn’t have a grille.
There’s a large MG badge in the centre and a charging port on the driver side of the grille.
The sides of the car are relatively plain and the windows are a good size.
The glass slopes up at the rear, but not to the extent that it spoils the driver’s view over the shoulder when changing lanes.
There are roof rails and a smallish rear airflow lip.
The cabin boasts a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with contrast cross-stitching.
There are manually adjustable front seats, six-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger — but no reach adjustment for the steering wheel.
There are two USB ports and a phone tray at the base of the centre stack. In the
centre there’s a large console bin.
There are two USB ports and a phone tray at the base of the centre stack. In the centre is a large console box.
The back seat is reasonably spacious with good leg and headroom.
There is space for three in the back but it’s more comfortable with just two adults.
Occupants get air vents and two USB ports, as well as a fold-down armrest with cupholders.
Luggage space is 359 litres, or 1275 litres with the second-row seats folded.
Inside you’ll find cloth trim and two-zone climate air conditioning, along with a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster plus a 10.1-inch multi-function high definition infotainment touch screen with DAB+ FM radio and built-in satellite navigation.
Smartphone mirroring is available through cabled Apple CarPlay or Android Auto with two USB ports at the front and another pair at the rear.
There’s a four-speaker audio system.
A smartphone app is available that allows you to monitor and control vehicle functions remotely.
You can use it to locate your car, lock and unlock it, as well as monitor its status with displays for range and charging.
MG ZS is powered by a 50.3kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery, delivering 280Nm of instant torque and 130kW of power.
It is driven through the front wheels.
With six airbags, the previous model scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The current model is yet to receive a rating.
A reversing camera as well as a 360 degree camera are standard.
When driving at night or in low light conditions, the forward-facing camera detects surrounding circumstances and will automatically switch the LED headlights between low and high beam.
To make life safer for drivers who are not paying attention there is forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning and traffic jam assist.
The MG Pilot package provides automatic emergency braking (pedestrians up to 64km/h and vehicles to 150km/h).
Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are restricted to the higher-priced Essence.
There are three driving modes on the new MG ZS EV: Eco, Normal and Sport.
There’s also regenerative braking with three levels of adjustment.
We used the Normal driving mode most of the time during our test week as it still had plenty of performance and we wanted to get the best range.
However, as MGs were traditionally built as sportscars many owners may like to fang them in Sport.
On the subject of Sport, the ZS EV can go from zero to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds.
This is pretty quick, aided of course by the fact that there’s maximum torque from 1 rpm upwards.
With a claimed range of 320km, we covered just under 180km during our test period.
The EV showed a remaining range of 115km.
This is pretty much according to the figures provided by MG, which isn’t always the case.
Some makers seem to provide range that we haven’t been able to get anywhere close to.
Energy is consumed at the rate of 17.1 kWh per 100km.
Charging from a standard powerpoint takes about eight hours, less with a wall box or commercial charger.
A fascinating feature is that you can enhance a camping trip by running power through to your electrical items using the electricity stored in the lithium-ion battery.
A puncture repair kit is supplied in lieu of a spare wheel.
A seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty covers the car and lithium-ion battery, roadside assistance goes the same distance and time.
Scheduled servicing is required every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first.
This Chinese / British all electric hatchback is well priced compared to others in this class.
However that lower cost is due to having smaller batteries and therefore significantly less range.
Do your homework before considering one to see if it works for you.
Value: 6/10 (you pay a lot more for an electric MG than for petrol ones)
AT A GLANCE
MG ZS EV Excite: $44,990
MG ZS EV Essence: $45,690
Note: These are driveaway prices and include all government and dealer delivery
SPECIFICATIONS (MG ZS electric motor, lithium-ion battery, FWD SUV)
Permanent magnet, lithium-ion battery
Maximum Power: 105 kW
Maximum Torque: 353 Nm
DRIVELINE: Reduction gear, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4320 mm
Wheelbase: 2585 mm
Width: 1812 mm
Height: 1640 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Weight: 1532 kg
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid Disc
Vehicle: Seven years / unlimited kilometres
Battery, eight years / 160,000 km