New Long Range version of the facelifted MG SZ EV could be a game-changer for the fast-growing manufacturer.
This could be a sliding doors moment, not just for MG – a brand that is quickly building solid sales figures in Australia – but for Australia’s electric car market. It’s the facelifted ZS EV, a heavily revised version of MG’s compact electric SUV that arrives with some updates usually associated with an all-new car, not a mid-life refresh.
It doesn’t look hugely different, with a new, smarter front grille joined by updated headlights, a fresh rear bumper and a revamped colour palette. It’s still very much an amalgamation of common small family SUV design themes, but it’s what’s underneath that counts. That’s because while the old ZS EV was only available with a 44kWh battery enabling 263km of range, this new version offers two choices – a 51kWh battery and much larger 72.6kWh. The new MG ZS EV will arrive in Australia in the second half of 2022 although pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed.
On paper, it takes the ZS into entirely new territory. Up to 440km of range is claimed and it remains competitively priced in Europe at around $56,000. The new 51kWh version is similar to the old model’s price, a circa $45,000 tag in Europe, which is bang on the driveaway price in Australia. That leaves the door open for a potential $56,000 driveaway price on the new long range model locally, which would be quite something.
An electric motor with 115kW and 280Nm of torque drives the front axle, a slight rise in power but a decrease in peak torque over the previous model. The new ZS’s battery only contributes an additional 10kg to the kerbweight, which is good given the extra range that’s on offer.
With a 98 per cent charge, we saw a predicted range of 430km, rising to 450km in Eco mode. Over 200km of motorway, B-roads and London city streets we averaged 6km per kWh. With the battery’s usable capacity standing at 68.3kWh, it translates to a real-world range of around 405km, strong figures for an electric car of this size and price.
It’s a genuine range anxiety-eliminating step for the ZS compared with the pre-facelift car, but the way it drives is hardly any different. You’ll find the ZS to be inoffensive in many ways, but outstanding in none.
It rides softly, but it’s not smooth and fluent. It’s loosely sprung enough to avoid a ride that would be described as firm, but it still picks up bumps. The brakes could be a little more confidence-inspiring, too. The driving position is not helped by the lack of a reach-adjustable steering wheel, while on the move, the light weight and numb feel reinforces that the ZS hasn’t been developed with dynamism in mind. It’s not wayward, but isn’t quite as assuring to drive as the competition.
But the powertrain is a stronger point. Even in Eco mode it has enough punch for town driving and more, while Normal makes throttle inputs sharper and more reactive; on the motorway it’s comfortable and quiet, if not the most serene EV out there. There’s also a Sport mode, but it doesn’t transform the ZS into a car with a fun side. Three switchable regenerative braking modes can be toggled via the KERS switch; the strongest of the trio isn’t quite resistive enough to enable one-pedal driving.
And the ZS’s charging tech is solid but not spectacular. DC charging at up to 76kW is standard for an 80 per cent top-up in 42 minutes, while the on-board 7kW charger allows home charging in 10 and a half hours.
Inside, there’s lots of space front and rear with good headroom available, even with the panoramic glass roof fitted as standard on our range-topping test car. Boot space is 470 litres and more than enough for family life. There’s a false boot floor to store charging cables beneath, too.
Material quality and cabin design remain mostly unchanged, with some hard plastics and fake leather telltale signs of the cost-saving measures MG has employed to offer a car with a battery this big at this price.
The new 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is an improvement, though. It could react a bit quicker to inputs, but the menus are logical enough, and it’s sharp and bright. There is also live traffic data and weather information, plus Amazon music in the top-spec model overseas – Australian availability of these services is not confirmed. But every ZS comes with this large touchscreen, digital instrumentation, and remote connectivity features via the MG iSmart app.
The new MG ZS EV still offers no-nonsense, no-frills electric motoring – just over a longer distance than before and for slightly more money. It’s a bargain EV for those prioritising range and roominess on a budget, but there are compromises to make on quality. It won’t suit everyone, but it’s an appealingly affordable electric SUV.
2022 MG ZS EV price and spec
|Model:||MG ZS EV 72kWh|
|Battery/motor:||72kWh/1x electric motor|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|
|Charging:||76kW DC (0-80% 42mins)|
|On sale:||Second-half 2022 (Australia)|