MG ZS 1.0T GDI

Exclusive Auto

MG ZS, dynamic
MG ZS, dynamic front
MG ZS, front quarter
MG ZS, profile
MG ZS, interior
MG ZS, boot

A DECADE since its return to the UK car market MG is on something of a roll under the guidance of Chinese owners, SAIC.

While overall new vehicle registrations fell by 5.7% in 2017, MG Motor UK registered growth in every month of the year.

It has continued to buck the general downward trend in 2018 too, with sales figures of more than 1,100 in March representing a 49% increase compared to the same month in 2017 and the brand's best monthly performance since its revival.

Sceptics might argue that, while the percentages are impressive, the overall numbers involved are still small but there is no doubt that MG is beginning to strike a chord with its cheap and cheerful approach.

A key contributor to that momentum has been the the roll-out late last year of the new ZS compact SUV - backed up by an attractive seven-year, 80,000 mile warranty.

LIke the MG3 supermini and the larger MG GS SUV, the ZS was designed and engineered in Longbridge, Birmingham, and shows some tangible progress over its stablemates.

Competitive pricing, starting from just £12,495, is still the key selling point but the newest MG boasts improvements in interior quality and infotainment systems that offset some of the foibles which afflict all cars at the bargain end of the scale.

Design-wise the ZS follows all the currently popular conventions and in doing so seems generic and a little derivative. An imposing mesh-style grille heralds a new face for the brand, apparently, and the lines are clean and sharp but you won't stand out from the ever-increasing SUV crowd.

Inside, however, things improve. There are more soft-touch surfaces than in previous 21st-century MGs and contrasting colours and textures help to break-up the more cheaply-clad scratchy surfaces.

Pride of place goes to the intuitive eight-inch touchscreen infotainment interface which is standard in all models. Brightly coloured tiles populate the homescreen offering quick access to a range of easy-to-navigate sub-menus.

Moving up from entry-level Explore to mid-range Excite trim adds DAB radio to the mix while on flagship Exclusive models Apple CarPlay, navigation and a reversing camera are included in the package.

The range topper also gets leather-style upholstery, cruise control, air conditioning and stylish 17-inch alloys and while the lack of automatic emergency braking is a big miss some concessions to that low price have to be expected.

You do get plenty of space for your money, though. With impressive head and leg room in the rear seats and a 448-litre boot, rising to 1,375 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down, the ZS is capable of coping with most family needs.

Power comes from a choice of either a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged or 1.5-litre petrol engines with MG shunning a diesel option in the current climate of negativity which surrounds it.

The 1.5 is available across the range paired with a five-speed manual transmission while the 1.0-litre turbo can be had with the top two trims and comes mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Neither is likely to set the pulse racing but the turbo offers more low end zip and responsiveness in town traffic and should prove the popular choice.

Typically of MG the handling is sharp and nimble, with good body control and not too much roll in the corners, while light and accurate steering makes manoeuvring easy and the suspension proves supple enough to iron out most imperfections in the road surface.

Urban, Normal and Dynamic drive modes are standard across the range and allow the driver to adjust the steering response according to conditions and personal taste.

You won't go far wrong sticking to the normal setting though, which, as you'd expect, strikes a happy medium and provides a relaxed and easygoing everyday driving experience - which is just what you want in a family SUV.

FAST FACTS

MG ZS 1.0T GDI Exclusive Auto

Price: £17,495

Mechanical: 111ps, 999cc petrol engine driving front wheels 6-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph:12.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.8

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions:144g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles

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