Exclusive Auto

MGZS, 2017, front, action
MGZS, 2017, nose, action
MGZS, 2017, front, static
MGZS, 2017, side, static
MGZS, 2017, rear, static
MGZS, 2017, rear, action
MGZS, 2017, interior
MGZS, 2017, boot
MGZS, 2017, engine

MG's journey under the ownership of Shanghai Automotive has been a choppy one at times with more than a few ups and downs.

After a slow and stuttering start with the now discontinued MG6 the MG3 supermini proved a real hit - successfully tapping into the fashion for small car personalisation but at a bargain price.

Anyone awaiting the impending arrival of a two-seater sports car is likely to be disappointed but the reborn firm now seems to have a mission that sees it firmly focused on delivering compact SUVs.

First there was the GS, which along with the MG3 saw MG's UK sales rise by six per cent last year.

Hopes are even higher as regards the smaller ZS, with MG believing it has the capacity to double sales of 4,440 last year.

It's interesting that a name dating back to the ill-fated MG Rover days has been chosen for it but this ZS is so far removed from the souped-up Rover 45 from almost 20 years ago that any comparisons are meaningless.

What the latest ZS is, is a tidy looking and well designed compact SUV/crossover that really should give the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur a run for their money.

From a design perspective the ZS is appealing and a good example of sticking to a basic SUV-style blueprint without being at all staid or boxy and adding a flourish of modern style.

It is splendidly roomy too and despite its relatively diminutive overall size is more than capable of serving as an everyday family car.

Put simply it is considerably more spacious and has a far larger boot than either the Nissan Juke or Renault Captur. Boot space is 448 litres, rising to 1,375 litres with the rear seats folded.

Perhaps even more significantly the ZS is considerably cheaper than rivals, which also include the Mazda CX-3.

The range starts at £12,495 and it's worth stressing that is around £2,500 than an equivalent Nissan Juke.

Another big selling point is a lengthy seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.

The line-up is relatively simple with just two engines to choose from - both petrols.

There's a 999cc three-cylinder turbocharged unit and a 1.5-litre one.

One could be forgiven for thinking the smaller engine is the entry level one but in fact the reverse is true.

The punchy three-pot is a new engine that like many of the current small but highly effective petrol engines offered by many manufacturers really delivers.

As well as feeling roomy on the inside the ZS also has a quality feel in terms of fit and finish and instrumentation and switchgear.

Okay, this was a range-topping ZS Exclusive Auto model (with the smaller engine) but considering it would set you back a comparatively modest £17,495 there's no doubt it impresses.

The build quality looks and feels surprisingly good.

There are three trim levels - Explore, Excite and Exclusive.

The 1.5-litre unit, already used in the MG3 and MG GS, is available in all three trim levels, mated to a manual gearbox.

The turbocharged three-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and comes only in Excite or Exclusive trim.

Equipment levels are generous throughout the range, though you'll need to step up to Excite or Exclusive trim if you want air conditioning.

If you do opt for one of the higher specs you'll also get DAB radio, an eight-inch colour touchscreen Bluetooth connectivity and the offer of Apple CarPlay.

Sat nav is standard on the Exclusive model, as is a reversing camera.

To drive the ZS is generally good. For a relatively small SUV the ride height is surprisingly high. That means there's an element of pitch and roll but it's only noticeable when the car is being pushed hard.

Ride quality is remarkably composed and the three-cylinder engine (sourced from General Motors) is a real delight.

Although its 0-62mph time is getting on for two seconds slower than the 1.5-litre unit it is actually more powerful, pulls better through the mid range and overall delivers power exceptionally smoothly. There's also a sport setting for the automatic gearbox which gives it an added edge.

Built in China (MG ended its small-scale assembly operation in Birmingham some time back) the car has been created by the Midlands-based design and engineering team at Longbridge, so feels very British overall and has clearly been designed first and foremost with the home market in mind.


MG ZS 1.0T GDI Exclusive Auto

Price: £17,495

Mechanical: 109bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.8

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 144g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles


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