New MG ZS SUV 2017 review
19 Apr, 2017 2:00pm Jonathan Burn
The MG ZS is coming to the UK but it won't be called the ZS when it arrives. Let's see if it's any good...
On first impressions the MG ZS is shaping up to be a commendable addition to the crossover market. It prioritises comfort over dynamic prowess and for a car destined for urban life, thatís a wise move. Its success hinges on getting the pricing right and attractive PCP offers. If MG can bring the ZS to market packed with kit while undercutting all of its rivals as it has promised, the rest of the package will be difficult to ignore for cost conscious buyers.
Before MG gets to the exciting business of launching an all-electric sports car, it first needs to deal with the bread and butter of any mainstream product range: crossovers and SUVs.
The ZS name has yet to be confirmed, but this compact SUV is MGís take on the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008. And ahead of the car landing in UK dealers before end of the year, Auto Express has been granted early access to see if this car can help rejuvenate the once iconic British brand.
Backed by Chinese parent company SAIC, MG has made sure the ZS has all the ingredients required of a small and successful crossover. Thereís a punchy and efficient 1.0-litre turbo engine, plenty of standard equipment, and a price tag that should put the cat amongst the pigeons. UK specs wonít be finalised until much later in the year when that all-important name will be revealed, but MG bosses are confident that a top spec ZS will undercut mid-level rivals such as the Ford EcoSport by up to 20 per cent.
Most of the kit in our top-of-the-range Chinese-spec test car is likely to feature for that price, too. This includes an eight-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, an electric sunroof, cruise control, alloy wheels, a reversing camera and keyless start.
The cabin is also a big step up in terms of design, quality and fit and finish Ė especially when compared to the existing GS. A lot of the plastics on the dash and centre console are hard and a bit scratchy, but at this price point thatís to be expected. It does feel well screwed together and built to last, unlike the cabin in its larger sibling, the GS.
The overall ergonomics of the cabin are a big improvement, too. The dash isnít littered with buttons and the new eight-inch touchscreen is bright and clear. Admittedly, the Chinese interface on our car isnít a reflection of what weíll get in the UK, but if the set-up we get is as slick as the system we tried then itíll be a big improvement over what MG offers on current models.
Under the bonnet, MGís new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo provides the shove. It develops 124bhp and 170Nm of torque, but being paired with a sluggish six-speed auto doesnít flatter what is otherwise a punchy and smooth engine. We expect a manual to be offered as standard when the car goes on sale in Britain.
Our time with the ZS was short and restricted to SAICís proving ground outside of Shanghai, China. But one thing that immediately stands out is the ZSís comfort based setup. It hangs-on well through fast changes in direction, but thereís a lot of body roll to go with that. On the flip side that does mean a soft and compliant ride, so the ZS should fare well in urban environments Ė where it will probably spend most of its time.
The ZS also squares up to its rivals pretty well when it comes to practicality. The wheelbase is around 80mm longer than that on a Nissan Juke, meaning rear passenger room is much more generous. The boot isnít huge, but MG claims a 1,166-litre load bay (vs the Jukeís 1,189-litre boot) with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats flat. Itís not the most useable shape either, as prominent load lip and step with the seats dropped will cause trouble when trying to load larger items.
Model: MG ZS 1.0 T Exclusive
Price: £15,000 (est)
Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo
Transmission: Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive
New MG ZS SUV 2017 review | Auto Express