MG ZS 1.5 VTi-tech


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

JUST two letters, but the sight of an MG badge still conjures up visions of open-top sports cars like the Midget and MGB Roadster.

Production of those ‘iconic' models actually finished more than 40 years ago, but remain fresh in the memory of those lucky enough to own or drive one.

These days MG is a completely different deal, Chinese-owned and claiming to be ‘the fastest-growing car brand in the UK' with a six-model line-up of practical and, significantly, very affordable SUVs and hatchbacks.

While potential car buyers may initially be steered towards the well known mainstream volume manufacturers, there's a compelling reason why they should seriously check out MG - and it's called value for money.

Take the compact ZS family SUV for instance. It costs from £15,995, a tab only undercut by the Dacia Duster, for a well kitted out Excite model.

It comes with a choice of two engines - a turbocharged 1.0T GDI and the naturally aspirated 1.5-litre VTi-tech in our tested model, which has a five-speed manual gearbox while the smaller, more powerful, unit has automatic transmission.

MG's mantra is all about providing modern cars that are cost-effective, British designed at the company's Marylebone studio in London, practical and backed by a seven-year warranty.

Within the design limits of a compact SUV, the ZS is an attractive car - well proportioned with a deep, wide grille, smart alloy wheels and a low-slung style accentuated by silver roof rails.

For carrying capacity there's a large boot with deep pockets at either side plus a false boot floor creating heaps of space beneath if you carry a repair kit rather than a spare wheel.

There are also plenty of stowage options like door bins and side pockets, a very deep central container, a pair of front cupholders, a non-slip coin and oddments tray and rear front seat flaps.

Space is ample up front and fine for two adults in the back, and though three is a tight squeeze at least that centre rear position is soft.

What's really pleasing, especially given the price of MGs, is the ZS's build quality, overall fit and finish of the cabin and soft-touch feel of the materials, all of which contribute to a calm, pleasant driving environment.

Our version was in Exclusive trim - the higher of the two spec grades - had nicely shaped black synthetic leather seats with red stitching and the MG logo embossed in red on the front seat headrests. You also get a chunky, again red stitched, flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The standard 10.1-inch touchscreen looks inviting and simple to use with clear sat nav mapping, sharp graphics and good, solid buttons for the air con.

All models get the screen as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone mirroring, DAB radio and Bluetooth while top spec Exclusive adds a reversing camera and upgraded sound system.

If there's a catch with the ZS, and in particular the 1.5-litre engine, it's in the area of performance which is a bit ponderous. And despite the official Combined fuel figure of 47.1mpg our own return was far lower at 34.2 miles per gallon, so economy isn't fantastic either.


MG ZS 1.5 VTi-tech Exclusive

Price: £18,295

Mechanical: 1,498cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via five-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 109mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles


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