Review: MG ZS Exclusive

Review: MG ZS Exclusive
Review: MG ZS Exclusive

Fancy an SUV? Of course you do, everyone does these days. Got £75,000 to play with? Great, head over to our test of the Range Rover Velar. Live in the real world? Even better, we’ve got just the thing for you.

While it would be nice to swan around in Solihull’s leather-clad gin palace, most of us don’t have that kind of cash so for buyers on a tight budget there are a growing number of relatively low-cost SUVs.

Read more: Review – MG GS

Take this test car, for example. The MG ZS is a Nissan Qashqai-sized model that starts from just £12,495 – that’s less than a Juke. It’s the newest model from the revived MG brand, which is slowly trying to re-establish a foothold in the UK.

Positioned quite clearly at the budget end of the market, the ZS is up against the likes of the SsangYong Tivoli and newly updated Dacia Duster.

MG ZS Exclusive

Price: £15,495
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 105bhp
Torque: 104lb/ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Economy: 49.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 129g/km

It fits well into the smallish SUV mould. So well, in fact, that you might struggle to tell it apart from rivals. There’s a hint of Mazda about the big grille and it’s more angular than the likes of the Duster, Juke or Renault Captur but it’s a bit “generic SUV”. Still, at least it’s unlikely to scare many buyers off from the outside.

Inside there’s a similar lack of flashiness but this is no bad thing. The ZS focuses on getting the basics right so everything is clear, simply laid out and easy to use. It puts the fiddly controls and layout of the Tivoli in the shade with its user friendliness.

MG ZS interior

Unlike the Tivoli and Duster the MG is only available with two-wheel-drive. Sales figures show that isn’t a big deal for buyers in this market but that and the lack of a diesel option will limit how many sales it can hope to steal from the others.

On the road the ZS rides softly, meaning it soaks up bumps well but tips noticeably into corners. You wouldn’t be so aware of this it wasn’t for the fact that the steering features a dynamic mode which is actually pretty responsive, and there feels like there’s a lot of grip.

Less pleasing is the tested 1.5-litre engine. It has a claimed 0-62mph time of 11 seconds but you have to work it hard to wring any performance out of it. If you opt for an auto model you’ll get a more modern three-cylinder turbo with more power and torque instead.

While MG talks about making an engaging car to drive the ZS’s big attraction for buyers will be its price. The range starts at £12,495 for Explore trim while the tested Exclusive is £15,495. For that you get a tonne of equipment including a responsive eight-inch media and sat nav screen with Apple CarPlay and reversing camera, synthetic leather upholstery, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, air con and three steering modes.

It’s true to some extent that you get what you pay for and the MG isn’t going to poach buyers considering a BMW or Audi but for budget-conscious motorists who want a well-specced SUV the ZS takes the fight to the Duster and Tivoli.

It outscores the Korean motor with a tidier, interior and more mainstream styling. It also beats SsangYong’s five-year warranty by two years and comes very well equipped. Where it falls down is that weak engine and the lack of a four-wheel-drive option where rivals offer it.

MG’s sales figures are steadily rising at the moment and while the ZS won’t set the market alight it has enough appeal to maintain that pattern.

MG

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