MG ZS Exclusive 1.5

VTI-Tech

MGZS, 2021, front, static
MGZS, 2021, nose
MGZS, 2021, front, action
MGZS, 2021, side
MGZS, 2021, interior
MGZS, 2021, rear, static
MGZS, 2021, rear, action
MGZS, 2021, boot

MG refers to itself as the ‘UK's fastest growing car brand' and broke all previous sales records in 2020 despite the challenging market conditions caused by the lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions.

It increased sales by 41 per cent - to 18,415 registrations, so while it's the fastest growing it's not the biggest seller in town - not by a long way.

Much of the growth was driven by electric vehicles, with almost a third of new MGs being plug-in models. However, its popular compact SUV, the ZS, was also upgraded last year.

And, there's a lot to like about the ZS, not least its looks, price and transferable seven-year warranty, but the refresh brings a real uplift in specification and quality, while maintaining its keen value-for-money positioning.

The ZS is comfortable, easy on the eye and now comes in just two well-equipped trim levels - Excite and Exclusive.

However, the main weapon in its armoury is still the asking price - £15,495 on-the-road for the entry level Excite model. Its only real competitor pricewise is the popular but more utilitarian Dacia Duster.

A five-door is the only body style offered but there's now a smarter front face with full LED headlights sweeping back towards the wings, and new 17-inch alloy wheels for each version.

Both versions are powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with a smooth five-speed manual gearbox. There is also a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder diesel, which is matched with a six-speed auto gearbox, or an electrically-powered ZS EV but it costs £10,000 more than the Excite petrol.

Inside, there's a stylish new dashboard design with more soft touch materials. The central 10.1-inch ‘floating' colour touchscreen is its centrepiece, featuring DAB radio, Bluetooth telephone, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay,

A series of fashionable piano key buttons are arranged beneath the touchscreen, giving easy access to the air conditioning and other comfort controls.

Both versions also get a new front armrest, cruise control and air conditioning. On top of that, Exclusive versions add satnav, 360-degree reversing camera, an uprated six-speaker sound system, leather-style upholstery, rain sensing wipers, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable driver's seat, full digital driver's display and blind spot monitoring.

Despite being a ‘compact' SUV, the ZS is a true five-seater - comfortable and with plenty of head and legroom for four adults. As with many cars of this size, the middle seat in the rear is a little on the narrow size.

There's also a huge amount of boot space - some 448 litres, which is around 60 litres more than typical in the sector - plus a split-level boot provides plenty of room for prams, luggage, cycles or the weekly shop, while families will benefit from numerous compartments throughout the car which provide additional storage. With the rear seat folded, luggage capacity is increased to 1,375 litres.

The ZS is comfortable on our main carriageways and MG has done quite a good job keeping engine and wind noise down. Suppression of wind noise has definitely improved. Head off to the countryside - or even along many urban streets - and the suspension soaks up the lumps, bumps and potholes pretty well.

As well as that cheap price, the ZS should be reasonably cheap to run too. For a start, it sits in insurance group 15. It officially returns 42.7mpg, and I was not far off, managing a very good 40.2mpg.

FAST FACTS

MG ZS Exclusive 1.5 VTI-Tech

Price: £17,795

Mechanical:105bhp, 1,498cc, four-cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission

Max Speed:109mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 42.7mpg

Insurance Group:15

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating:33%

Warranty:7yrs/80,000miles

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