As noble causes go, in the automotive world there are few nobler than the goal of making “hightech, zero-emission cars available to all”, as MG’s UK head of sales, Daniel Gregorious, puts it.
Of course, frequently do we hear twee comments, made to similar effect, leaving the mouths of industry executives – but with MG and Gregorious, there is a sense that not only is the sentiment genuine but also achievable. As a brand, MG Motor UK Limited re-emerged in 2009 under the ownership of state-owned Chinese manufacturing giant SAIC Motor and has recently introduced the 3 supermini and ZS crossover, both of which have defied outsider expectations and sold well.
The key has been aggressive pricing, good practicality and reasonable equipment levels, all of which have meant owners are happy to turn a blind eye to lower-quality plastics and the lack of certain amenities found in more expensive rivals. Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone, but one couldn’t wish for a more transparent philosophy.
Which is all well and good for conventional vehicles, but electric ones are famously expensive to produce, with the costs passed on to the customer. Alongside a meagre public charging infrastructure, it’s high prices that have above all else hindered uptake, but this is where the new ZS EV warrants attention.
Available from £24,995 – or even as low as £21,995 with MG’s limited-time offer to nearly match the government’s £3500 grant for zero-emission cars – this crossover is by far the most affordable electric car in its class, and puts MG on a more pioneering footing than many expected. Indeed, by 2021, MG will have introduced two more electrified mainstream models and even an electric sports car. It’s an ambitious and exciting plan for a brand attempting to re-establish itself in the UK.
However, in the here and now, there are questions about the ZS EV’s driving range, and to achieve a road-test recommendation, it will need to offer its owner satisfaction beyond being cheap to buy and run. Could this prove a seminal model for the reincarnated British marque? Let’s find out.
The MG ZS range at a glance
Even after the government’s plug-in car grant, there’s a sizable and conspicuous jump in price between the combustion-engined models and the electric version. Unsurprisingly, the latter comes in upper-middle and top-spec equipment levels only, the EV adding roof bars, leather-effect heated seats and some active safety kit.