The Hyundai Kona Electric highlighted the challenges that come from adding a lot of weight to a platform with a reasonably short wheelbase. Wherever you hide it, that additional mass becomes difficult to keep under control – because mass is still mass, even if it is carried low and between the axles – and ultimately leads to key dynamic compromises.
With an even shorter wheelbase and a less sophisticated torsion beam rear suspension (the Kona has a multi-link arrangement), the MG falls into the same trap, and on faster, more variable country roads the result is a perceptible shortage of vertical body control.
Not that the ZS and Kona feel alike on the road; while the Hyundai is staunchly upright, over-sprung and short on grip, the MG is softer and comfier at lower speeds but less well-controlled at higher ones. Downward movement through compressions feels more soggy than genuinely cushioned and regulated, though, while the dampers often need a couple of passes to then bring the oscillation triggered on rebound back under control.
The car doesn’t feel particularly wieldy or agile through bends either. That softer set-up and inflated mass give way to what feels like quite a pronounced level of roll under faster cornering, which combines with limited reserves of front-end grip to sap the MG of anything in the way of athleticism. Mid-corner bumps can also lead to a degree of thumping and deflection, while the electronic stability systems are quick to step in with a heavy hand.
This is a bit of a shame, really, because the MG’s medium-paced steering does at least seem reasonably responsive. That said, it lacks a properly reassuring level of weight, with its overly light setup failing to telegraph much of an idea as to how the front tyres are interacting with the road beneath you. Switching to Sport mode does introduce a degree more heft, however, but you soon learn to abandon any enthusiasm and adopt a more sympathetic driving style.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
The very earliest modern electric cars taught us, a decade or so ago now, that adopting a quiet electric motor can actually impose a significant challenge for NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) engineers rather than making their lives easier. That’s because taking away one of the biggest sources of noise in a moving car only really serves to draw greater attention to the lesser ones whose influence never previously seemed so great.