Home / Reviews / First Drive / MG ZS EV Electric SUV India Test Review

 

The MG ZS EV might sound like a bunch of acronyms but, in reality, it spells the company’s expertise in the EV space. For an electric car, it looks rather conventional and it’s about the same size as the Hyundai Creta and the Kia Seltos. It’s only once the front grille is popped open and the charging socket is revealed that the curious bystanders go ‘Oh, electric!’ in appreciation.


Design
A few elements make the design stand out — such as the sizeable front grille with starry chrome specks or the large MG logo centrepiece which glows when the MG ZS EV is being charged. While the London Eye-inspired LED daytime running light layout looks unique, the scuff-plates at the bottom of the bumper give it a rugged feel. Like many European designs, the side profile is understated and the gradually rising shoulder-line that spikes toward the C-pillar gives the car a dynamic stance. The MG ZS EV looks rather conventional from the rear with a narrow glass and high-set tail-lamps. Like the Hector, there are several badges, including “Internet Inside”, on the boot and the one on the front fender announces “Electric”. This Copenhagen Blue colour did manage to attract plenty of Delhiites and their zillion EV-related queries. (Also Read: MG ZS EV Launched in India)

Cabin
Step into the cabin of the MG ZS EV and it’s a lot more premium, with good quality materials and craftsmanship. Soft-touch plastic, brush metal highlights, fine leather, and fancy rotating a-c vents — all a notch above the Hector. During my recent trip to MG’s headquarters in Shanghai, I noticed how the company had borrowed some cabin parts from Volkswagen, their partners in the Chinese market. Not surprisingly, a few familiar bits can be spotted on the ZS EV too.
The flowing centre console looks good and has a nifty sliding cover for the cubbyhole. There’s an unconventional rotary gear knob to select Drive, Neutral or Reverse and tapping on the dial engages Parking. A set of buttons control the electric driving modes, KERS, and show battery info. KERS is a useful feature that recovers a moving car’s kinetic energy under braking or coasting and stores it in the battery. Since the battery pack is neatly packed underneath the car, the floorboard is higher than usual and robs some of the rear seat’s under-thigh support. The cabin of the MG ZS EV is practical and spacious, probably the best in the segment.

Variant and Price
The MG ZS EV is being offered in two variants in India – ZS EV Excite at Rs 20.88 lakh, while ZS EV Exclusive is available for Rs 23.58 lakh (both prices ex-showroom). Tempting prices, yes. No wonder the MG ZS EV has secured over 2,800 bookings in less than a month and MG Motor had to stop accepting booking for the EV. Deliveries begin from January 27 across five cities – Delhi/NCR, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.

The features of this internet car depend on the variant you choose: the standard MG ZS EV Excite or the range-topping MG ZS EV Exclusive. We drove the latter which, apart from the usual tricks, gets a useful PM 2.5 air-filter, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, and MG’s latest i-Smart EV 2.0 infotainment system with six speakers. MG have tied up with a host of experts to offer a range of functions such as in-car Wi-Fi (a segment-first), battery range, car info, and things like navigation, streaming your favourite music or get the city’s weather prediction. Mysteriously, the top-end doesn’t get Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, at least for now. But the MG ZS EV does get silver-finished roof-rails and a huge panoramic sunroof which covers almost 90 per cent of the roof, which seemed like an overkill to me.

Battery and Range
Coming to the crux of things, the MG ZS EV gets a 44.5-kWh ternary liquid-cooled lithium battery produced in-house by MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC, in partnership with CATL (one of the world’s largest battery manufacturers). The battery pack supplies electric current to a 143-hp permanent-magnet synchronous motor, which, in turn, employs a single-speed transmission to power the front wheels. And, yes, it’s impressive. Mainly because the entire 353 Nm of torque is available almost instantly. In Normal mode, the MG ZS EV feels zippy and immediately clears off any apprehension one might have about electric cars. Sport makes it even more lively and I won’t be surprised if it is as fast or even quicker than a few conventional cars of its size. Instead of the usual roaring motor, there’s the peculiar whizzing of the electric motor as the single speed ensures a seamlessly surge till it maxes out. In fact, the claimed 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds doesn’t seem too off the mark either. MG claim that the ZS has a range of 340 km (ARAI certified), which, in real-world driving conditions, would probably be close to 250 km on a single charge.

Performance
To improve the range, it is best to drive the MG ZS EV in the Eco mode. Yes, the accelerator response is toned down a fair bit but is usable within the city and there’s enough range to skip charging for another day or so. MG’s strength is that they are offering a whole range of charging options. Five to be precise. Along with every MG ZS EV, the company not only provides a portable charging cable but also installs an AC fast-charger free of cost, which takes about eight hours to fully charge the car. If there is an MG showroom in your vicinity, you can also use their DC charging once in a while as it takes less than an hour to juice up 80 per cent of the battery. In case the battery runs dry in the middle of nowhere, you can even call for the roadside mobile assistance.

Ride and Handling
Not only its performance, but the MG ZS EV’s decent road behaviour will surely surprise you. Although the steering weighs well, it feels artificially induced and doesn’t necessarily translate into razor-sharp precision, but the MG ZS EV remained impressively flat and held the line pretty well. It feels quick to change directions and the spirited motor makes it surprisingly fun to drive. The suspension, in spite of lugging around a heavy battery pack, is well-sprung and keeps the body movement in control. It just flattens out broken roads really well and only a deep pothole can be felt in the cabin.

Conclusion
Since we drove the MG ZS EV in winter, we would like to see what impact our harsh summer would have on the battery range. However, going by our first impression, the peppy motor and a decent range make the MG ZS EV a seemingly practical car for highways and cities. The biggest talking point, according to me, should be the comprehensive safety kit it offers, including six airbags, dust- and water-resistant battery, and an unmatched five-star Euro NCAP rating.

MG ZS EV Exclusive
Price: Rs 23.58 lakh (ex-showroom)
Battery: 44.5-kWh lithium-ion, water-cooled
Range: 340 km (ARAI certified)
Max Power: 105 kW (143 hp)
Max Torque: 353 Nm
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
Weight: 1,502 kg

 

About the author: Sarmad Kadiri

 

 

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