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Thursday, December 29, 2022

MG EV highlights cold hard fact of electric car ownership

MG ZS EV drive by Steve Rogers

What a year it has been for MG.

Sales edging 50,000, a phenomenal 63.3 per cent up on 2021, and a string of awards for their value for money models shows how far the iconic British marque has come since its resurrection by the state owned Chinese company SAIC.

And here is one of its stars, the ZS EV, a family sized electric SUV that, like the rest of the MG range, has shaken up the car industry and shown that you do not have to pay a fortune for an electric car. 

That said 30 grand is a big chunk of money even if it is less than the opposition, and the Government has made it a bit harder by scrapping the plug-in car grant.

So why is the ZS seemingly such good value for money? There are electric cars that come close on price like the Vauxhall Mokka, Peugeot 2008, Citroen E C4 but can’t match the level of equipment or the range.

For instance the entry SE (£29,495) comes with LED auto dipping headlights, keyless entry, navigation, voice control, 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise control and a seven year warranty as part of its package. Rivals would have trouble matching that.

Moving up the Trophy’s battery pack increases from 51kWh to 72.6kWh pushing the range from 198 miles to 273 miles and there is even more equipment. This is all sounding very positive and for the most part it is but certain things have to be taken into consideration when debating electric cars.... like the weather.

I had the Trophy during the coldest week in December and the important lesson to be learned is not to count on the manufacturer’s range prediction, in fact you get to learn a lot about electric cars during a cold snap.

In the case of the MG it is best not to switch to economy mode to extend the range unless wrapped up because the heating system barely gets above luke warm even on the maximum setting.

The Trophy has heated front seats but with only one setting gets too hot. More significantly cold weather affects the range and at minus three the MG had used nearly half its battery capacity after 85 miles so 273 miles was never going to happen. These conditions will reduce the range on just about every electric car.

That the ZS EV is good value for money is beyond doubt but to keep the cost down the odd corner has been cut. The definition on the all round reversing camera should be a lot sharper; there is no telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel; the passenger seat is set a tad high and has no vertical adjustment.

As for the rest of the car it is all systems go. There is plenty of technology with a digital driver’s display and 10.1in touchscreen for navigation, smart phone integration and radio settings, the latter not the easiest to fathom but you get there in time. A row of quick keys beneath the screen is helpful although they need brighter back lighting.

A rotary controller for gear selection is a classy touch and there is an automatic parking brake.

This is a good sized family car with adequate legroom front and back so space for five adults is not out of the question. Boot capacity is pretty decent as well.

Like all electric cars the ZS is quick off the mark even in the economy setting and responds quickly when overtaking. The ride is a little jittery over uneven roads and generally not quite at the level of the best of its rivals but is no deal breaker

MG is building an impressive range of electric cars and has caused quite a stir with its latest budget busting EV, the Z4 which is a real stunner. If there is any justice in this world it will be named European Car of the Year. It certainly gets my vote.

Fast Facts

ZS EV Trophy LR

£35,040 (starts £29,495) 

0-62mph 8.2secs; 108mph; 153bhp

Range 273 miles. 72.6kWh battery

Full charge: 10.5hrs home wall charger

80 per cent charge: 42 mins public 100kWh point

Zero emissions

Insurance group 21

Boot: 470-1100 litres

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