This is the future – the MG ZS EV is one of the many electric SUVs coming our way in the forthcoming years. The second product from MG Motor India after the Hector, this ZS EV will be launched in January. Meanwhile, bookings have already commenced in the five cities it will initially be sold in, namely – Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
We got a chance to drive the ZS EV in the chilly and hazy winter of Delhi. So let us take a look at what the ZS EV has on offer as we try and find answers to the many questions related to this new electric car.
At first glance, the ZS EV looks pretty conventional. It is handsome to look at with well-balanced proportions, sharp creases and just the right amount of chrome all around. The attractive pin-studded grille with chrome surround is akin to what we are used to seeing on cars with Three-Pointed Stars. And the MG logo on the grille illuminates when the car is charging and behind this logo is where the charging port is placed. The nicely designed headlamps get halogen-projectors housed between the ‘inverted-omega’ shaped daytime running lights. In profile, the long bonnet, sloping nose, creases on doors and bonnet along with the sweeping window line add character to the ZS’ silhouette.
MG says that the unique 17-inch machined alloy wheels are inspired by Dutch windmills and they do match the overall design as well. Being a crossover/SUV, you get body cladding all around along with a chrome-finished roof rail. At the back, the LED elements in the wraparound tail lamps look not only gorgeous, but they also make the ZS look upmarket. That tailgate-mounted MG logo in the centre also doubles up as boot lid opener. We also particularly loved the three-recessed bash-plates both fore and aft, a roof-mounted spoiler, blacked-out shark-fin antenna and the brushed inserts on both the bumpers. Currently, there are three colour options for the ZS – red, blue and white. On the flip side, we think the ‘electric’ badge on the side looks tacky and it could have done with a smaller moniker.
Overall, the MG ZS has a very European demeanour which will surely look fresh and enticing on Indian roads.
Step inside and you’d find that there’s no indication here about the electric nature of the SUV, which is a good thing. We found the overall quality to be on par with modern-day SUVs we are accustomed to. The all-black cabin swathed in leather also gets soft-touch materials on the door pads, armrest and on the dashboard too. Behind the steering wheel, which feels nice to hold, you’ve got two analogue dials – one for the speedometer and the other to give information on the electric discharge/throttle usage. Meanwhile, the centre console has an eight-inch infotainment screen with all the connectivity features you get in the Hector. This i-smart EV 2.0 system, however, is all-new and has a better user interface and touch response compared to the Hector.
You get a six-way adjustable driver’s seat but the steering wheel is not telescopic and can be only adjusted for rake. We loved the front seat cushioning and bolstering as well. Adding to the ergonomics is the high-positioned floating centre console. Thanks to the thin pillars, the overall visibility is great but there’s not much headroom for taller passengers. And the same can be said about the back seat. But with front seats set to my driving position (I am 5.8ft), there’s more than sufficient legroom. That said, we also loved the cushioning on the rear seats and three people can sit abreast here but not for longer jaunts. There’s a cup holder at the back instead of an AC vent while the floor is flat. And owing to the swooping roofline, the rear passenger might feel a bit confined. Moreover, the bootspace of 448 litres is quite large and fairly usable too, thanks to the low lip height, ease of access, and wide tailgate.
Moreover, the ZS EV comes packed with all the bells and whistles. You get a comprehensive trip computer, large panoramic sunroof, automatic AC, electric and heated ORVM, PM 2.5 air purifier, rear camera with moving guideline, cruise control, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, six-speaker music system and steering mounted control. In terms of safety, you get six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist, hill start and descent control, TPMS, all-four disc brakes, three-point seatbelts for the middle rear passenger, ISOFIX and electric parking brakes.
Placed beneath the floor of the ZS is a high-density 44.5kWh battery pack which powers a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor mounted on the front axle. This motor has an output of 148bhp and 353Nm and has a claimed 0-100kmph time of 8.5 seconds. More importantly, the claimed range is 340km on a single charge while the battery pack can be charged to 80 per cent in 40 minutes with a 50kW DC fast charger. On the other hand, the 7kW charger that MG is giving out for free to its customers takes around seven hours to charge the vehicle fully. There’s also a 50amp charger provided with the ZS, and to charge it with this portable charger, you’ll need more than 15 hours. And contrary to popular belief, charging the ZS EV isn’t a matter of rocket science either. It is as simple as the plug-and-play you do for charging your mobile phones.
Turning on the switch, you only get a ‘ready’ indication on the MID and the right dial sits on zero-mark suggesting that the car is ready to go. Turn the gear knob to drive and lift off the brake and the ZS EV moves along just like any other vehicle. Even when you get on the throttle gently, the SUV starts picking up pace gradually. It is only when you smash the throttle that you get the instant torque smashing you in the seat. Otherwise, the proceeding is smooth and effortless with little to no motor whine heard inside the cabin. But, get even slightly zealous off the mark, and you could spin the front wheels unnecessarily.
Driving in the city is pretty easy as you can drive around effortlessly. It only needs correct input from the right foot and the ZS EV responds instantaneously. This response is so quick, that you (along with other road users) will need to recalibrate your brain for new driving dynamics. Out on the highway, keeping the ZS EV at three-digit speeds is easy but you do see the range counter plummet much more quickly than expected. You get regenerative braking (or KERS) and there are three levels for it with each level providing a different amount of regeneration. This regeneration should suffice in city driving, but might not be helpful for long drives on the highways.
Then there are three driving modes – Eco, Normal, and Sport. Altering the modes allow for a different level of response from the throttle. Also altered is the steering response which is very light in Eco mode and weighs up in Sport. However, we think that the Normal mode should be enough for your day-to-day driving. Whichever mode you are in, the steering response is direct and exudes impressive feedback. Coming to the ride, it is remarkably plush on smoother surfaces. Every bump and irregularity are taken astride with ease and on the bad road, the SUV managed to absorb everything we threw its way without sending a jolt inside the cabin. Riding on Michelin Primacy 3ST tyres, you can occasionally hear road noises but you can surely live with it since it is far quieter than a conventional car, mind you.
When it will be launched in January, the MG ZS EV will be priced between Rs 22-25 lakhs (ex-showroom). This will position it exactly where the Hyundai Kona EV is positioned. MG will be offering a warranty of eight years/1.5 lakh kilometres on batteries, roadside assistance of five years and unlimited warranty on the vehicle. Sure, we still lack the right infrastructure but that shouldn’t stop you from getting yourself an electric vehicle like the ZS. It is a well-rounded product, looks outstanding, comes loaded with features, is spacious and practical, has phenomenal driving dynamics, and lastly – it is the future.
Pictures by Kapil Angane