First drive: 2021 MG ZS EV
IN case you missed our story earlier this week, MG has launched its first fully electric vehicle, the 2021 MG ZS EV.
We were among the first in Australia to sample it, as part of a special media drive day ahead of its public debut this weekend.
We can now reveal that the drive experience and more importantly, the car itself, are spectacular. It's pleasantly normal, for an electric car. For the uninitiated, the ZS EV represents the latest edition to the expansive ZS SUV range, that also includes the ZST.
It shares the same stylish package as the rest of the range, along with a new colour, Clipper Blue. But like a good carpet advert, we know you just want to know what it's like to drive, and the price.
We started with a push of the start button (the irony is there, we know), and twist of the rotary dial to D. It's then that you can press the go pedal, and glide quietly away into the traffic for our evaluation drive.
The journey ranged from built-up suburban areas to twisty national park tarmac, but it's the stopping process that takes the most getting used to, if you've never driven an EV. That's thanks to the regenerative braking.
For the purposes of this test, the ZS EV had its braking system on setting three (aka heavy). It's the most aggressive, and captures the most kinetic energy for battery recharge. It quickly becomes obvious that there's no coasting in an electric vehicle.
At least not on setting three. We find ourselves quickly adapting our driving style to suit. The solution is to keep just a little throttle on so that the car can ease up to a red light, rather than dip hard as it tries to recover power.
Once clear of the built up areas we flick on the active cruise control to allow the MG to clear the scattered traffic. It is smooth and responsive up inclines, without traditional transmission kickdown and elevated noise / RPM.
The soft hum never becomes loud enough to intrude and is easily covered by the radio. Our test took in quite a few 25km/h hairpins and 35km/h squiggles to get some practice on the best way to pilot an EV SUV too.
The suspension is a little firm but absorbs bumps adequately. The steering is direct and handles the winding roads without issue, riding on unique 17-alloy wheels with Michelin tyres.
By now, releasing the accelerator enough for cornering is a fresh habit and proper braking is only necessary on the very slow corners. Surprisingly, the MG ZS EV is a stout contender on the road, and made short work of everything we threw at it.
Inside, the leather-look steering wheel has a flat bottom and typical grip points at the ten and two position. Perforations, stitching and a polished lower spoke trim give it a premium look with a chrome style centre ring around the MG logo.
The usual suite of phone, audio and information system buttons are on the horizontal spokes. The indicator and cruise control stalks are on the left of the steering wheel. An 8.0-inch colour touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There's satellite navigation, and a reverse camera screen with guides, heating and air conditioning controls sit below the centre-mounted screen, with alloy look trims on the dash, front console and door panels.
Access is by keyless entry with the usual SUV elevated driving position. The seats are firm and supportive and the adjustment works for long legs. There is plenty of headroom, even allowing for the full length panoramic sunroof.
Steering wheel adjustment has rake (up and down) but not reach (forward and back), however driving position is still comfortable enough. The 60/40 split rear seat and flat floor feels roomy and features maximum cargo space of 1,166 litres with the seats down.
A recharge cable is stowed in a side trunk space with a small net for instant access. The 2021 MG ZS EV is a small SUV equipped with full electric drive. It is fitted with a 44.5kWh battery and front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm.
The ZS EV has an impressive driving range of up to 262km, which can be extended out to 370km. A recharge port is concealed behind the front grille with a lift up panel. Charging is completed via a standardised EV charge cable.
With an 85kW ‘fast charger’ able to fill the ZS to 80 per cent in just 45 minutes. A full charge on a standard power point will take around seven hours. There’s three drive modes and plenty of safety features.
These include lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, follow cruise and speed assist. It has a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating thanks to its battery safety capabilities and the MG Pilot safety system.
Overall, the time we spent in the MG ZS EV was pleasant, and allowed us to see the committed value and agenda that MG has put behind its shiny new electric vehicle. It hits the market this weekend at $43,990 drive away.
It's available in Clipper Blue, Dover White, Diamond Red, Regal Blue and Pebble Black. The batteries are covered by an 8-year/160,000km warranty, while the car receives a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-years roadside assist.
Watch out for our full review in the coming weeks.
Our test vehicle was provided by MG Motors Australia as part of a media drive day. To find out more about the 2021 MG ZS EV, contact your local MG Motors dealer.
This story was written by David Mullen.
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