- Three well-equipped trim levels to choose from
- Seven-year warranty
- Spacious and comfortable interior
- Tough opposition from the likes of the Citroen C3 Aircross, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, SEAT Arona and Kia Stonic
- No steering wheel reach adjustment
With an emphasis on value for money, the five-door MG ZS is a compact SUV that offers excellent levels of kit for a very reasonable outlay.
One of the key design features is the new face of MG which features a large full frame grille which has been inspired by the brand’s heritage and it allows for a much bigger MG badge. The interior boasts ample space for four adults and there is a wealth of on-board technology as standard.
There are two petrol engines – a 1.5-litre 106PS and a 1.0 automatic delivering 111PS of power. Customers can select from three trim levels called Explore, Excite and Exclusive with prices ranging from £12,495 to £17,495.
On The Road
We tested the MG ZS powered by the 1.5 DOHC 4-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox in range-topping Exclusive guise. This car delivers 106PS @6000rpm with 141Nm of torque. Whilst it’s not the most dynamic compact SUV on offer it can complete the 0-60mph dash in a reasonable 10.4 seconds and tops out at 109mph.
The car has been specifically tuned for UK roads and it isn’t bad at all. Admittedly it can be a little jumpy on uneven surfaces and larger ridges will send it off balance, but generally it is quite composed provided it is driven with a little respect.
There are three power assisted driving modes as standard on both higher-grade models called Urban, Normal and Dynamic. Urban mode is ideal for town-based journeys providing lighter steering while Dynamic maximises the car’s performance. The Normal mode is suitable for all driving conditions and, in all honesty, most drivers will leave the car in that setting.
The acceleration through the five-speed gearbox is smooth and quite responsive but at times, at higher speeds, I was searching for a non-existent sixth gear.
However, the MG ZS was very competent on the open road and can hold its own on faster-moving dual carriageways and motorways too.
If it’s a thrill-seeking ride full of dynamic acceleration and lots of wow-factor handling capabilities that you’re looking for then the MG ZS may not be the car of choice. But that’s not to say it’s not a delight to drive and with prices starting from a very reasonable £12,495 it is a viable choice for anyone with an eye on their bank balance.
It can be driven at pace along country lanes with a degree of confidence but overstep the mark and the car is less forgiving. Uneven road surfaces and dreaded potholes can pose a few issues and really tight bends need to be given a degree of respect or you will notice a considerable amount of body roll.
That said though; if driven ‘sensibly’ it’s a completely different story. The ride is more composed and the car becomes far more confident and capable. As I said, it’s not a boy racers model, but will still deliver an enjoyable driving experience with nice slick gear changes and responsive, precise steering.
The interior of the MG ZS is fairly upmarket especially on the top-of-the-range Exclusive version that we drove. As one would expect, there are a few hard-plastic surfaces, but there is plenty of quality on offer too, including smart black leather-style upholstery with neat grey contrast stitching.
One feature MG is very proud of on its latest car is the multi-function steering wheel with leather-effect trim which looks modern and sporty. Another plus point is the crisp eight-inch infotainment screen which MG claims will become a signature feature of future cars.
When it comes to calmed refinement within the cabin, it really is down to the individual driving style. Engine, road surface and wind noise are kept to a minimum during day-to-day driving. Venture onto a motorway and the sounds will become more apparent as you pick up the pace. Push really hard and before you know it, it’s time to crank up the volume on the sound system.
Generally though, the cabin is nicely refined and the suspension system does a good job of ironing out uneven road surfaces which is another good talking point.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Getting comfortable within the MG ZS is quite an easy process with six-way adjustable seating in the Excite and Exclusive models. I was however a little disappointed at the lack of steering wheel reach.
MG is proud of the levels of kit being offered as standard in the MG ZS and it has every right to be. The eight-inch touchscreen is the focal point and is clear and simple to navigate. There is Apple CarPlay to keep you connected on the go, but no sign of Android Auto.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty to get your teeth into, including the likes of cruise control, Bluetooth, sat nav, a rear camera, air conditioning and plenty more besides.
Stand out design cues within the cabin include neat 3D shapes, metallic and chrome finishes and carbon-looking textures that raise the quality levels. On a downside though, there is a lot of cheaper materials on display including some hard-plastic surrounds that could prove prone to scratching.
Space & Practicality
The MG ZS offers one of the most spacious interiors in class with generous amounts of shoulder, leg and headroom for the driver and passenger alike. And back seat occupants are well catered for too with room for a couple of adults or three passengers if they don’t mind getting a tad cosy! In fact, according to MG, the ZS provides 55mm additional rear shoulder room and 80mm rear headroom than the segment average.
Practicality is a must on compact SUVs and the MG ZS does well in that department with a boot capacity that ranges from 448 litres to an impressive 1,375 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is the added bonus of a split-level boot. Elsewhere there is a glovebox, decent sized door bins, cup holders, trays and pockets in the back of the front seats.
Accessibility is good too with wide-opening rear doors making it easy to get to youngsters in child seats or for passengers with limited mobility.
Our test car carried a price-tag of £14,495, but if you want the 1.0-litre versions mated to an automatic gearbox then expect to add an extra £2k to the starting price.
When it comes to day-to-day running costs our MG ZS could deliver combined fuel economy of 49.6mpg with carbon emissions of 129g/km. This would result in a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £160 for the first year which is reduced to £140 after that.
The 1.0-litre version can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 44.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 144g/km which would result in a first year VED charge of £200 and once again reduced to £140 for following years.
However, if fuel economy is a key factor, then the MG ZS is not really as competitive as many of its rivals.
The insurance group rating for the test car was 11 (10 for the 1.0-litre auto).
Quality & Reliability
MG has showed its confidence in the ZS by offering a full seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty as standard across the line-up which is transferable to any new owner. It also comes with the option of a six-year anti-perforation warranty covering against corrosion.
Obviously, being such a new model, it is difficult to predict how reliable the MG ZS will prove to be. However, it feels quite robust in its design and the switchgear, along with the upholstery looks like it will survive the test of time.
Safety & Security
There are plenty of airbags and ISOFIX points along with anti-lock brakes and ESP stability control. There's no blind spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, hill start assist or driver fatigue warnings which you do find in similar modern cars launching into the family sector.
This is a compact SUV with a starting price that is lower than a Ford Fiesta's.