MG can also be called an electric car maker. Based on the petrol-engined MG ZS, the ZS EV is a small SUV built not in Longbridge, Birmingham (like those famous MGs of the past), but in China. This is not a bad thing, as the Chinese are bang-up-to-date with electric car technology.
The ZS' relatively compact shape puts the MG up against other small crossovers like the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia e-Niro and its more quirky brother, the Kia Soul EV. However, there are two key differences between the MG and those three South Korean SUVs.
Firstly, it’s what lies underneath. The ZS EV is powered by a 141bhp electric motor and a 44.5kWh battery pack giving a range of 163 miles – some 100 miles and 60bhp less than the Hyundai and the two Kias offer. While normally that would be an instant black mark against an electric car, the MG fights back on price. The most basic ZS EV costs £25,495 – roughly £10,000 cheaper than the Hyundai.
And it certainly isn’t a basic car. The £25,495 Excite model gets 17-inch diamond-cut wheels (which means they are polished metal rather than painted), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity. The dashboard looks smart and isn’t that badly made, either.
There are some gripes, though, like the charging flap that makes it difficult to plug in a cable and a sat nav system that doesn’t feature local charging stations (you can search for petrol stations, though).
The lack of technology to allow pre-heating or timed charging is a big oversight too - these were on the Nissan Leaf when it was launched a decade ago and are essential for many EV owners. It isn’t especially thrilling to drive either and doesn’t have a fun factor you’d expect from a car wearing the MG octagon badge. That said, it’s quiet, comfortable and easy to live with which for most people is all they want.