MG ZS Exclusive 1.0

T GDI manual

MGZS, 2021, front, action
MGZS, 2021, side
MGZS, 2021, rear, static
MGZS, 2017, interior
MGZS, 2024, instrument panel
MGZS, 2024, front seats
MGZS, 2024, rear seats
MGZS, 2024, boot
MGZS, 2024, engine

SPECIALIST can be a pain. I'm talking about the people - especially us blokes - who know a fair bit about a particular subject, then bang on about it forever.

Hacks, myself included, who are fortunate enough to be paid to drive a huge variety of cars, tend to think they not what's exactly right for everyone - from the bumbling city driver to the boy racer.

Trouble is we are all very different and many punters don't give a jot about understeer, oversteer or torque steer. Why would they?

Most want a car that looks pretty good, doesn't cost a bomb to run and it must be reliable.

Skoda trounced the rivals by ticking all the relevant ‘real world' boxes. And now Chinese-owned MG is following a similar route in providing reasonably priced, visually appealing transport for families on a tight budget who might otherwise have had to buy secondhand.

Sure, it's not perfect - it's thirstier than many of the European competition, lacks some of the fun factor for keen drivers and the styling is somewhat generic. But the positives far outweigh the negatives...and the price if the family-sized ZS we've been sampling is a mere £22,000.

Those new to MG will be impressed by the smart cabin - lost of soft-touch, decent quality plastic mouldings which are well fitted, leather bound steering wheel, central armrest, a 10.1inch centre touchscreen and the comfiest front seats we've sat on in ages. They are said to be ‘leather style' which may mean plastic, but they hug you like an old friend.

The touchscreen takes a bit of mastering and adjusting the heating on the move proves challenging via an illuminated slide-bar.

With dimensions a tad smaller than a Nissan Qashqai, room in the front is ample with acceptable shoulder room, those in the rear seats are a bit less well catered for if the front seat occupants use the full range of their seat adjustment.

Boot space is 445 litres and 1375 litres when the rear seats are folded which is more generous than many competitors. The load platform, however, is set quite high.

The version we tried was powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine producing 109bhp, a reasonable output for a small block. Acceleration is modest with an 11 second saunter to 62mph, but it's pleasantly hushed unless asked to rev to the red line.

The little three-pot engine lacks eagerness and needs a bit of prodding when you need to get a wiggle on. But at cruising speed in sixth gear, the ZS is among the quietest cars in its class.

Ride is on the soft side, with some body roll when cornered enthusiastically. Bumps and road ruts are soaked up well though. And no nasty traits when pressing on through bends.

The gear change itself is light and positive with a reasonably short throw action that's both crisp and satisfying to use.

FAST FACTS

MG ZS Exclusive 1.0 T GDI manual

Price: £22,115

Mechanical: 999cc, 3 cyl, 109bhp petrol engine driving two wheels via manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 10.9sec

Combined MPG: 44.8

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles

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