By Mike Torpey on 2019-12-15 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
MG ZS 1.5 VTi-tech
KILLING two birds with one stone has proved key to the crossover craze that has gripped UK car buyers over the past few years.
The secret is to serve up a model thatoffers the compact dimensions of a family hatchback with the higher riding position of an SUV, at the same time looking that bit more robust.
And the momentum is showing little sign of slowing down, as more manufacturers introduce their own contenders.
The most popular crossovers, predictably from the big guns of the automotive scene, may be compact but they don't necessarily come cheap.
There are, though, exceptions - and one of them comes from one of the most revered names in British motoring folklore, MG.
Now Chinese-owned by the massive Shanghai Automotive group, MG is a brand very much on the move.
Already this year MG has expanded its sales network to the point that it expects to have 120 dealers nationwide by the end of December and become the official global car partner of European champions Liverpool Football Club.
And just last month the company announced its entry into the zero emissions vehicle market with what MG describes as the first truly affordable, family friendly electric car, the ZS EV.
Those still favouring more traditional power though should give serious consideration to the petrol-powered ZS. It's stylish, spacious, well kitted out - and costs from £12,495.
It also offers peace of mind in the form of a seven-year warranty covering 80,000 miles.
What you get with the ZS is an attractive five seater with a smart, modern interior with soft touch finishes to the dash and door trims plus carbon-effect around the centre console, though some of the plastics do feel on the cheap side.
SUV-type touches include wheel arch protectors, sill covers and skid plates both front and rear.
You can fit plenty of clobber in the boot, which has an adjustable floor, and with fold-down rear seats as well, the luggage space ranges from 448 to 1,375 litres.
While the newer of the two engines up for grabs, a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit developing 111bhp, really punches above its weight, the 1.5-litre powerplant in our model is a pretty decent alternative.
It comes only with a five-speed manual gearbox and available with all three ZS trim levels, named Explore, Excite and Exclusive.
Performance is adequate rather than lively - ideal for urban driving - and the car rides smoothly too.
MG ZS 1.5 VTi-tech Excite
Mechanical: 106bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 11
C02 emissions: 140g/km
Bik rating: 32%
Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles
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