MG ZS 1.5 VTi-Tech

Exclusive

MG ZS, front
MG ZS, profile
MG ZS, rear
MG ZS, dynamic
MG ZS, interior
MG ZS, dashboard
MG ZS, interior, rear
MG ZS, boot

SINCE its return to the United Kingdom almost a decade ago the historic MG brand has successfully carved out a new niche for itself at the bargain end of the car market.

For the past three years the ZS has been a major part of that, offering buyers a cheap and cheerful way to join the unrelenting SUV craze.

During that time it has become the rejuvenated car maker's best selling model to date and helped it to consolidate its position as the country's fastest growing car maker, statistically speaking, in October 2020.

A facelift midway through the year alongside the earlier introduction of an electrified version are designed to keep the ZS at the top of the MG sales charts as the marque looks to consolidate and continue its steady growth.

Our test car, though, was the updated more conventional petrol version sporting a series of cosmetic changes including a new hexagonal grille and LED headlights, revised dashboard and interior trim and upgraded technology.

A simplified range includes two well-equipped grades - Excite and Exclusive - with prices starting from £15,495 rising to just £20,295 for the range-topper, if you discard the electric version.

Power comes from either a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit that gets a six-speed automatic transmission.

Our Exclusive trim model had the 1.5-litre unit under the bonnet which peaks at 106ps and will get the ZS from standstill to 62mph in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 109mph.

The lack of a turbocharger is noticeable and there are times when the ZS feels underpowered with this engine, particularly when climbing hills, but generally it performs solidly in town traffic and copes well at a steady cruise on the motorway.

Light, accurate steering makes manoeuvring easy and the chassis offers good control and agility which makes for sharp and nimble handling and a minimal amount of body roll in corners for an SUV.

A three-mode drive selector also gives the driver the chance to tailor their experience with self explanatory urban, normal and dynamic modes available and generally the ZS offers a largely enjoyable and straightforward driving experience.

The interior upgrades bring the MG much closer to its more expensive rivals in terms of quality with a redesigned dashboard featuring much more soft touch material, finished with stylish stitching detail, while the leather upholstery in Exclusive grade cars adds an upmarket touch.

The cabin also offers plenty of family space for a compact SUV, with room for four adults to travel in comfort, five on shorter trips, good rear head and leg room and decent storage cubbies for personal belongings.

At 448 litres the boot is one of the biggest in the class and will cope with a pram or child's buggy, luggage or the weekly shop. Capacity rises to 1,375 litres with the 60/40 split rear seat backs folded down, while an adjustable boot floor adds extra versatility.

Equipment is also impressive for the price point of the ZS with all cars getting a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment interface which offers a somewhat different experience to other manufacturers' systems but is nevertheless intuitive and easy to use.

A series of piano-key buttons sit below the screen for quick access to heating and air conditioning functions while Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, digital radio and cruise control all also come as standard.

Stepping up to Exclusive trim adds navigation, heated front seats, a fully digital driver's display and heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver.

FAST FACTS

MG ZS 1.5 VTi-Tech Exclusive

Price: £17,795

Mechanical:106PS, 1,498cc petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual transmission

Max Speed: 109mph

0-62mph:10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 41.4

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 155g/km

Bik rating: 36%

Warranty:7yrs/80,000 miles

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