Why were running it: To see if it is as easy to live with the child of the reborn MG poster as with the names established in the class
Life with an MG ZS: Month 1
Welcome from the ZS to the fleet – March 20, 2019
To say that the MG brand has led a challenging existence over the last few decades would be to say things in a rather soft way.
It is a company that has changed drastically: two-seater sports cars which, for many, were synonymous with the brand have disappeared; its manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom have also disappeared. In fact, were it not for Chinese intervention following the collapse of the MG Rover in 2005, the MG brand itself could have completely disappeared from the face of the earth.
Surely, rebuilding a brand following the kind of tithe experienced by MG over the years would be such a gigantic task that Hercules himself might stop to think. Thats where our latest addition to the fleet comes in.
Well, not this particular car, but the new range of MG ZS models as a whole. Billed as a compact, practical, low-cost SUV that competes with Nissan Juke, it has already proven to be a kind of miracle for MG since it went on sale at the end of 2017.
In 2018, the company managed to increase its sales in the United Kingdom by 104%, to 9,049 units. Of course, a large percentage increase in a small number is still a small number, but senior management will no doubt be satisfied with the trend. I would venture to guess that they would be very pleased that it was also their new compact SUV that catalyzed this growth: the ZS accounted for 5,300 of those 9,049 sales.
However, it is this rebirth into a cup of tea that has awakened our interest in the MG ZS. We are curious to discover how convincing this new poster is for what was a great brand, as an alternative to the established names in the segment.
The ZS that we have chosen is the Exclusive model of first category. There are two engine options at this level: the first is a four-cylinder 1.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that develops 105 bhp and 104lb ft; the other is a three-cylinder turbocharged 1.0 litre engine capable of producing 110 bhp and 118lb ft. It is true that the 1.5 is cheaper (15.495 pounds sterling versus 17.495 pounds sterling in the Exclusive level of finish), but it was the fact that the three pots were coupled to an automatic double clutch, instead of the manual five-speed 1.5, which ultimately influenced the decision.
Its a car in which Im going to cover a lot of ground in the coming months, and the idea of a torquier turbocharged engine with an automatic gearbox sounded much easier to carry than the atmospheric manual. Hopefully in the coming months it will prove that the logic is correct.
As for standard equipment, theres a lot of it. In the cockpit are leather upholstery, satellite navigation, air conditioning, 8-inch color touch screen, cruise control and steering wheel audio controls. There is also Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay. The exclusive models get 17-inch smarter Diamond Cut alloy wheels, while parking sensors and a rear view camera will certainly come in handy in the busy residential streets near my home in North London.
Despite its reasonably compact proportions, the ZS has so far proven to be a very practical mini shuttle. A recent trip to the airport with a group of friends was an excellent litmus test. It may be a handshake to put five adults in a car at best, but the ZS was more than up to the task: my three passengers in the back seat did not complain about the lack of head or legroom. Result
I was also impressed by the amount of luggage we were able to load in the trunk of the ZS. With the rear seats in place, 448 litres of storage space are available, a figure that can be extended to 1,375 litres by folding the second row down. With a car full of passengers, this was obviously not possible – but the ZS managed to swallow the three large suitcases we had easily brought.
After running a Ford Fiesta ST for a while, knowing that Ill be able to load my entire photo kit into the MG trunk without having to worry about how Im going to make everything fit is going to be a big relief.
While the 1.0 litre engine has no reserves of power and torque, the ZS has not yet felt as if it had problems in terms of performance. The dual clutch transmission can be a little hesitant when kicking down, so overtaking requires a little more foresight, but heres enough power to execute such maneuvers so that theres no giggling from passengers who dont feel overwhelmed.
It is also good on the motorway, but I have noticed a tendency to crash more than I would like on those parts of the road that have shavings. It is the driving position that is of most concern.
The seats tend to leave my lower back feeling stiff; and since the steering column doesnt fit within reach, my knees are constantly bent over the pedals. Since Im pretty sure I wont experience massive growth in the next few months, I hope this is something I can get used to. Well see.
Overall, however, it has been a positive first contact (mostly) with our new MG ZS. I am looking forward to getting to know this car better and discovering its strengths and peculiarities. Im sure there will be a lot to discover; after all, snappers are not an idle group.
Although the MG ZS is quite attractive, I cant help but detect traces of other cars in its overall design. Its front, for example, has more of a passenger resemblance to the previous generation Mazda CX-5. Thats not a bad thing.
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MG ZS Exclusive 1.0T automatic specification
Specifications: Price New £17,495 Price tested £17,495 Options none
Test data: Engine 3-cylinder, 999cc turbocharged gasoline Power 109bhp to 5200rpm Par 118lb ft to 1800-4700rpm Weight in running order 1239kg Maximum speed 112mph 0-62mph 12.4sec Fuel consumption 45.4mpg CO2 145g/km Defects None Expenses None
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