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Car reviews - MG - ZS - EV


We like
Improved range over other models, drive away pricing, surprisingly comfortable ride, feature rich, roomy cabin for five, tricky ‘aero’ covers over alloys, handy app for remote controls, easy to live with day to day
Room for improvement
Range anxiety, some electrical idiosyncracies, intrusive driver assist tech’, bit more poke would be appreciated

Longer range, less range anxiety for MG’s strong-selling electric SUV

17 Jul 2023

MG’s pure electric ZS EV small SUV is now available in Long Range (LR) spec’ with a bigger 72.6kW/h battery that may extend the model’s range by as much as 120km over other variants that use a 51.1kW/h battery.


In hard numbers that’s a possible 440km (WLTP) for the LR compared with 320km (WLTP), a significant improvement, especially if you are time poor and don’t want to be ruled by recharger locations and then spend hours waiting for the vehicle to recharge.


But you’ll pay for the privilege as the LR costs $55,990 drive-away as opposed to the lesser Excite and Essence models that go for $44,990 and $48,990 drive-away respectively.


On top of that, the LR loses some 15kW of power, down from 130kW to 115kW and is a touch slower in acceleration at 8.5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint instead of 8.2 seconds. It is a scant 10kg heavier at 1620kg than the Essence with its smaller battery.


Peak torque remains the same at 280Nm available right from the get-go.


As with the other ZS EV variants, power goes to the front wheels with various modulations to mitigate possible wheel slip and spin.


Competitors include the Hyundai Kona EV extended range from $60,500, the Kia Niro electric from $66,590, the Mazda MX-30 electric from $66,010 and the Volvo EX 30 from $59,990, all plus ORC.


The MG ZS LR is equipped to the same generous level as the Essence model adding only rear privacy glass to the package which includes plenty of goodies like: three driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport), three brake regen’ modes, push button start, i-SMART connectivity, V2L function, 360-degree parking camera, LED daytime running lights and native sat nav.


On top of that is a 10.1-inch multi-function colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 17-inch ‘Propeller’ alloy wheel aero covers, MG Pilot driver safety technology, front seat heating, panoramic glass sunroof, rain sensing wipers , roof rails, wireless phone charger, synthetic leather seats, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.


Adding to an owner’s peace of mind is a seven-year battery warranty and precise (fixed) price servicing.


The LR uses electricity at a claimed rate of 17.7kW/100km and features an 11kW on board charger that takes eight hours to fully recharge the beast using a domestic power point or 63 minutes from a 50kW (semi) fast charger.


Driving impressions


To be frank, there isn’t much difference between this model and the smaller battery versions apart from the latter probably having a touch more squirt when you floor the throttle.


In doing that, the five-seat LR exhibits good acceleration delivered lineally and, of course, in near total silence.


Moving off the mark is modulated by traction control but it’s still possible to spin the inside front wheel turning a sharp corner with careless throttle application.


The usual front wheel dynamic characteristics are apparent including ultimate understeer and we detected a touch of torque steer under maximum throttle. Nothing too much to complain about though…


Aided by surprisingly good Maxxis M3 tyres, the LR’s ride and handling are tidy for a weighty and relatively high-riding small SUV.


With lane keeping assist on, the light steering feels like you’re holding a snake but when switched off plenty of feel comes back to the driver. The brakes are strong, and the ride is comfy from a simple strut front and rudimentary torsion beam rear set-up.


The ZS suspension improved last year with a facelift that brought revised suspension springs and dampers. But we wouldn’t recommend it for a Sunday morning ‘head clearer’ on a mountain road. It runs out of puff at higher speeds but isn’t a performance car by any measure.


After a couple of years, we have now evolved to the point of liking one pedal driving which in the LR’s case is not strong enough to quickly bring the vehicle to a stop when you lift off the accelerator. Perhaps the KERS can be turned up next time around.


Occasionally during the test period, the reverse camera didn’t come on when we were backing into a car park which is a tad problematic; and actually deactivating the intensely disliked active lane keeping assist takes some determination.


A touch of steering deflection was noticed at speed on the freeway when truck tyre ruts were encountered which could be down to the hard compound tyres.


Like the smaller battery models, the LR has three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport all with discernible differences to the way the vehicle goes and feels. In Eco it’s a bit tardy but using that mode seems superfluous in an EV that produces no tailpipe emissions …unless of course you are trying to “high mile” it.


We drove the LR in Sport all the time and it was good. The model zips around town and has plenty in reserve on the highway for uphills and overtaking. But there’s no pedestrian warning system which can be an issue at the supermarket carpark.


We still had to deal with range anxiety and were living around where the recharger was.


It’s a pain in the neck and we have developed a serious coffee addiction brought on by waiting for the recharger to do its bit or for it to become available if it’s working. But the front recharge port is easy to access and sensibly positioned.

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