MG ZS 1.0 GDi Turbo

Exclusive Auto

MG ZS, front
MG ZS, dynamic
MG ZS, rear
MG ZS, touchscreen
MG ZS, boot
MG ZS, interior

THE actual numbers involved may not be huge - but statistically speaking MG continues to spectacularly buck the downward trend in the United Kingdom car market.

Recent figures show the brand achieved record sales in August, with a 13.1 per cent increase compared with the same month in 2018, in a market which declined by 1.6 per cent overall.

That made it 22 consecutive months of sales growth and represented an incredible 41 per cent hike in year-to-date sales, cementing the company's position as the country's fastest growing car manufacturer.

Unsurprisingly, given the public's current predilection for them, this success is very much being driven by an SUV.

And undoubtedly one of the key selling points of the ZS, as with all MGs we've seen since the badge's UK relaunch, is its aggressive pricing. The range starts at just £12,495, with the flagship Exclusive grade we drove available from £15,795.

Those prices relate to cars powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission - but if you want a little extra punch and versatility it's well worth paying a little more to get the turbocharged, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre power pack that was under the bonnet of our car.

Plumping for this unit, which is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, gives the ZS a livelier, more responsive character on the move - although acceleration off the mark is a tad pedestrian at 12.4 seconds for the 0-62mph benchmark.

Fuel economy also takes a slight hit and is an area where MG generally still trails rivals, with just 38.6 miles per gallon on average claimed for this drivetrain and only a slightly better 41.5mpg for the 1.5-litre.

Despite the absence of outright pace, though, the ZS is an enjoyable and fairly engaging drive for an SUV thanks to a well-balanced chassis and suspension, which is tuned especially for UK roads.

This, along with light but accurate steering, makes for some nimble and agile handling with body roll in corners kept impressively in check for a high-riding SUV.

Space and practicality are also key ZS strengths, with the MG outdoing many more expensive rivals.

Head and legroom in the rear is generous and three adults will be comfortable enough sitting in the back on short journeys, while the boot, at 448 litres, is one of the biggest in class and has the added versatility of an adjustable floor. Capacity rises to 1,375 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.

While the rear door bins aren't big enough to accommodate drinks bottles, personal storage space for all the family's bits and bobs is generally pretty good.

Interior quality is an area which MG has improved dramatically since its relaunchand the ZS, especially in this range-topping Exclusive trim, boasts soft-touch surfaces atop the dashboard while metallic, chrome and carbon fibre-effect finishes all help to lift things above the bargain-buy drabness you might expect.

Equipment too, if you avoid entry-level Explore spec, is surprisingly generous for the price point, with our flagship car boasting an easy-to-use eight-inch touchscreen multimedia system with navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay; cruise control; a rearview camera; rear parking sensors and air conditioning.

Automatic emergency braking is absent across the whole range, though, and is a big miss but one which may well be forgivable for bargain hunters who will be happy to be getting a decent sized SUV for the price of some superminis.

FAST FACTS

MG ZS 1.0 GDi Turbo Exclusive Auto

Price: £17,995

Mechanical: 111ps, 999cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 38.6

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 145g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles

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