COVER We drive MG’S new ZS SUV
First drive verdict on brand’s crucial new ZS crossover, priced from less than £13,000
Verdict on British brand’s new Nissan Juke-rivalling crossover
New ZS majors on space and standard equipment 1.0-litre engine delivers 110bhp and 160Nm of torque
MG is determined to cash in on the crossover craze. Despite inheriting its nameplate from a nineties sports saloon, its new ZS will take on compact SUV rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, plus newcomers including the SEAT Arona. So its hopes are high, with bosses looking to the SUV to more than double current UK sales.
British buyers will be offered three trim choices, priced from £12,495. However, the company reckons that the most popular choice will be the Exclusive model, priced from £15,495 or £17,495 as tested here with a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The engine develops 110bhp and 160Nm of torque, so it’s potent enough alongside the three-cylinder petrol units found in many rivals. A slack six-speed automatic gearbox is standard, but it means that the 1.0-litre unit isn’t as economical as we would have hoped; a claimed 44.9mpg leaves it trailing the 50mpg benchmark set by other cars in the class, while tailpipe emissions of 144g/km are high.
The motor is at least fairly refined, keeping under-bonnet noise to a minimum. There’s noticeable wind and road noise, however.
At town speeds, the ride feels compliant over Britain’s pothole-sullied roads. At higher speeds, body roll is ever present around corners, and the ZS can’t help but pitch and dive and generally feel unsettled. It all seems a little out of tune with any of the car’s three steering modes.
Practicality is set to be one of the ZS’S selling points. Boot space looks particularly generous, with 448 litres on offer when all the seats are in place; that’s 94 litres more than you’ll find in a Nissan Juke.
The interior contains an all-new dashboard design that’s based around an eight-inch touchscreen. It’s a big step on from what MG has offered before, but the materials are still cheap, hard and scratchy. Standard equipment tips things back in the ZS’S favour, though, with Bluetooth, cruise control and electrically adjustable mirrors on every model. The touchscreen is fitted on the mid-range Excite trim upwards.
Value for money is still the main brief. There’s an impressive seven-year, 80,000mile warranty, while on list price it offers more kit and space than rivals at a lower cost. But those prices are for 1.5 manual models; the 1.0 turbo auto is £2,000 more.
PCP schemes should help to address the difference in cost, but we’ll have to wait and see how it competes with rivals on monthly deals. For now, MG UK is only touting a fiveyear conditional sale scheme, with zero per cent interest on deposits covering 20 per cent of the value of the car. The range-topping ZS Exclusive is available from £199 a month.
“MG’S hopes are high, with bosses looking to the SUV to double current UK sales”