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Review of the MG ZS: Performance, Features, and Value Explained

Summary:

The MG ZS is a budget-friendly small SUV compared to pricier hatchbacks and rivals like the Dacia Duster and Nissan Qashqai. It offers two petrol engines and a fully electric version, emphasizing cost-effectiveness with its low purchase price and extensive standard warranty. However, driving experiences vary; the 1.5 VTi-tech engine requires high revs, while the 1.0T GDI provides smoother acceleration but is noisier. Interior quality is good, yet seat and steering adjustments are limited. Despite spacious passenger and boot space, its performance, ride comfort, and reliability are mediocre. Safety features are also subpar, making it a mixed choice overall.


Introduction

What Car? Says…

The problem with SUVs is that they are often more expensive than their hatchback counterparts. However, the MG ZS stands out since it’s more affordable than many small vans.

The ZS closely rivals the equally budget-friendly Dacia Duster. It sits slightly larger than the pricier Peugeot 2008 but smaller than the well-loved Nissan Qashqai. For the eco-conscious readers, there’s even an electric variant—catch all the details in our MG ZS EV review.

Quick Question

Is the MG ZS genuinely a budget-friendly alternative to established competitors, or does it fall short of expectations?

Keep reading to discover how the ZS performs in terms of drive, comfort, practicality, and safety.

Performance and Drive

Driving Experience and Cabin Quietness

Strengths

  • Precise steering
  • Reasonably agile for a small SUV

Weaknesses

  • Uneasy ride quality
  • No manual gearbox on the 1.0T-GDI variant
  • Noticeable road noise

Both petrol engines of the ZS offer similar performance, taking around 10.5 seconds to reach 60mph. Notably, the cheaper 1.5 VTi-tech lacks a turbocharger, requiring more revs to gain momentum. In contrast, the turbocharged 1.0T-GDI provides more effortless low-rev acceleration but comes with a slightly higher price tag.

However, the 1.5 VTi-tech remains the more practical choice unless you prefer an automatic gearbox, which only the 1.0-litre offers. The automatic transmission is outdated, impacting performance with a slower 0-60mph time of 12.1 seconds.

Driving Dynamics

The MG ZS isn’t a standout for ride comfort. Compared to the Dacia Duster, it feels less stabilized at higher speeds and tends to catch every bump on the road. On the positive side, its precise steering and better grip make it perform slightly better around tight turns and bends.

"The MG ZS is a good choice if your passengers are prone to car sickness; my mum was fine in the back, while I think she’d struggle in the Dacia Duster." – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Silver MG ZS rear bend

Interior

Cabin Layout and Quality

Strengths

  • Surprisingly good interior quality
  • Better infotainment system compared to Duster
  • Raised driving position

Weaknesses

  • Limited steering wheel adjustment
  • No adjustable lumbar support
  • Slow touchscreen response

Considering its budget-friendly price, the ZS impresses with its interior quality. The soft-touch plastics, well-placed buttons, and overall fit & finish outshine the Dacia Duster.

Every ZS model comes with a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system. While the graphics are sharp, the low placement on the dashboard and laggy response may frustrate some users. Exclusive trims add a built-in sat-nav, but all models include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making this less of a necessity.

Driving Position

The raised seating position provides excellent front visibility, but the lack of lumbar support and limited steering wheel adjustments can be an issue, especially for taller drivers. Rear visibility is obstructed by thick rear pillars, but thankfully, rear parking sensors and a panoramic camera in the top trims offer some relief.

"Like most SUVs, the ZS sits you up high, but I found that its tiny rear windows and large pillars meant over-the-shoulder visibility was no better than in a traditional hatchback." – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

MG ZS interior panel

Passenger and Boot Space

Accommodating People and Cargo

Strengths

  • Roomier rear seats than most rivals
  • Ample front space
  • Relatively large boot

Weaknesses

  • Rear seats lack versatility
  • Boot shape could be more practical

The MG ZS stands out for its spacy interior. The front provides ample headroom and legroom, comparable to pricier models, and the wide interior ensures no shoulder rubbing.

Front storage is equally impressive with large door bins, proper cupholders, a sizable glove box, and a central storage compartment.

In the rear, the ZS again offers more room than the Duster, accommodating even taller passengers comfortably. However, the rear seats only fold in a 60/40 split, similar to most small SUVs.

Boot Space

With a 448-litre boot, the ZS barely trails the Duster. While practical, the ZS boot isn’t as user-friendly due to its shape. Nonetheless, the height-adjustable boot floor is a plus.

"I like to take a lot of (non-alcoholic) drinks with me if I’m going on a long journey, and in the MG ZS, I could keep a one-litre bottle in each of the car’s front and rear door pockets." – Dan Jones, Reviewer

MG ZS boot open

Buying and Owning

Costs, Reliability, and Safety

Strengths

  • Long standard warranty
  • Plenty of equipment
  • Low purchase price

Weaknesses

  • Poor security rating
  • So-so reliability
  • Less efficient than rivals

The MG ZS‘s low price and a seven-year, 80,000-mile warranty make it an attractive deal among small SUVs. Its cost undercuts most competitors, making it cheaper than entry-level Dacia Duster models when discounts are considered.

Depreciation and Efficiency

Surprisingly, the ZS depreciates slower than the Duster. However, its fuel economy (42.7mpg for both engines) is subpar compared to the more frugal Dacia Duster and Toyota Yaris Cross. High CO2 emissions also make the ZS less appealing for company car users.

Equipment and Reliability

Contrary to its budget price, the ZS comes well-equipped. Even entry-level Excite models feature LED lights, air conditioning, and cruise control. Exclusive trims add extra perks, though they might not justify the added cost.

However, reliability is a concern. MG ranked low in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, with the ZS being one of the least reliable small SUVs. The ZS didn’t fare well in safety tests either, scoring only three stars from Euro NCAP, similar to the Dacia Duster.

"When we tested the MG ZS against the Dacia Duster, we found that the MG will cost the average buyer more to run over three years, factoring in depreciation, insurance, servicing, road tax, and fuel." – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

MG ZS interior infotainment

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the MG ZS a small SUV?

Indeed, the MG ZS qualifies as a small SUV, measuring under 4.4 meters in length. Its exact dimensions are 4323mm in length, 1653mm in height, and 2048mm in width (including mirrors).

Is the MG ZS a reliable car?

According to the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, the ZS ranked low among small SUVs, with numerous motor and non-motor electrical issues.

Is the MG ZS four-wheel drive?

No, all versions of the ZS come with front-wheel drive, including the all-electric MG ZS EV.

Is the MG ZS a good buy?

The ZS stands out for its affordability but has noteworthy shortcomings, including ride comfort, standard safety features, and limited driving position adjustments.

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Note: This content follows a conversational, informal tone suitable for readers curious about the automobile sector, specifically focusing on the MG ZS. Keywords and SEO readability have been meticulously integrated, addressing user search intent effectively.

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