Just before brand MG made its India debut, I remember sitting on one of the stands at the British F1 Circuit in Silverstone, either turn Maggotts or Becketts and being posed a rather relevant question. “Will Indian car buyers be interested ina crossover electric vehicle that can be competitively priced in the ₹20 lakh price range?”, asked Rajeev Chaba, President and&MD of MG Motor India. Of course, he must have gotten many positive responses, including mine, and introduced the MG ZS EV, which has since come away as being one of the pioneers in the IndianEV space. Apart from being one of many in a consideration set, the ZS EV has gone on to build the MG brand and deliver a reliable electric vehicle experience to its many buyers.
Last month, MG launched the refreshed and facelifted model year 2022 ZS EV. The new model features a larger battery pack, paired with a morepowerful motor and it now offers more connected car tech. The battery pack is a larger 50.3kWh unit, compared to the earlier model’s 44.5kWh. The rated driving range per charge is also said to have gone up from 419kms to 461kms. The electric motor feedingpower to the wheels has also gotten a bump up in output from 142.8PS to about 176PS. During my test drive of the new MG ZS EV, I observed that the resultant increase in the driving range wasn’t very much more. But the vehicle certainly feels sprightlier. More on that later.
The new 2022 MG ZS EV’s design stayssimilar in profile and in overall stance. The predecessor and the MG Astor share the same platform and bear striking resemblances because the two cars are inherently the same vehicle with twodifferent powertrains and, of course, a different set of features. The changes to the new ZS EV are focused on making it more modern and updated. The front of the vehicle now follows the global design signature for an EV with a solid body-coloured grille with perforations now delivering the same radiating pattern thatthe predecessor’s grille had. EVs don’t need to breathe in air for engine cooling and the absence of a conventional grille willnot lead to any heating issues. The headlamps are all LED now, but they sport the same LED DRL signature (MG calls it Hawk Eye). The front fender sports a sort of split airdam, with my test mule (top-trim Exclusive) getting a new chrome garnish that looksa bit like a moustache.
The 2022 model gets LEDs for the tail-lamps too. The light configuration for the lamps is still nearlythe same as the predecessor. A thin chrome garnish on the rear diffuser matches the design in front. The “internet inside” badge on the tailgate gets carried forward from the predecessor. Thepaint job on the new ZS EV looks fantastic and it is good to see new colours being made available. The 17-inch alloys - MG calls it Tomahawk hub design rims - look good and they are also saidto improve aerodynamics. The ZS EV is still a compact crossoverstyle SUV. I drove the predecessor for over 1,600kms at a stretch and I feel that it is still one of the most usable EVs in itssegment. Good road presence, SUV level of practicality on bad roads and a cabin with decent room for both passengers and luggage are the ZS EV’s forte. The 2022 model attempts delivering moreon all those metrics.
I step into the new ZS EV and two pointers to the cabin refresh strike me. The first is that even though in terms of layout and design, the dashboard and centre console are identical to the predecessor, it still looks and feels more premium due to the use of better-quality materials. The stitched leather panels, the contrast stitched, leather-clad steering wheel and the similar treatment to the centre console are all quite striking. The new ZS EV gets a dual pane panoramic sunroof and there are armrests for both front and rear passengers. Back benchers also get dedicated aircon vents now. The 10.1-inch high-def touchscreen has a refreshed suite of functions, there are more voice command controls too, and there is even the addition of 75 new connected car functions through the i-Smart system.The 7-inch LCD instrument display also gets a refreshed layout and colour scheme.
More modern features in the cabin include wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and multiple charging ports. The seats are comfortable and pretty generous in construction. The new ZS EV also gets six airbags, hill descent control, ESC, a 360-degree camera and a tyre-pressure monitoring system as part of its package focused on safety. It doesn’t get ADAS functions that its sibling - the MG Astor- offers, but the new ZS EV is still an autonomous level 2 vehicle and gets lane change assist, blind spot assist and rear cross traffic alert. Customers can also opt for a digital Bluetooth key and drive without the use of a physical key.
The 2022 ZS EV is offered with a slightly larger 50.3kWh battery pack. It is said to meet newer more stringent battery safety norms including IP69K. The electric motor delivers 176hp of power and 280Nm of torque. The new ZS EV feels quicker and brisk compared to the predecessor. But during my test drive of a couple of hundred kilometres, I observed that the driving range has improvedthat much. The best range I got during my extended test drive of the previous model was about 320kms, with a large highway cycle in that mix. The new ZS EV’s real world range was similar witha possible 20-kilometre increment.
The ZS EV also continues tooffer an over-pliant ride. The suspension set up will feel goodin city driving conditions and it will coast over broken tarmacat slow speeds. But at highway speeds the ride does feel bouncywhile going over bad patches and there is a tendency for the nose to dip sharply under heavy braking. The steering is also over-assisted, but relatively precise. Straight line stability is good. Real world driving range is affected by speed, amount of throttle input, regen braking opportunities etc. With some practice, it is possible to drive the ZS EV with just one pedal input. Pre-emptive regen braking and steady throttle inputs can help maxout the battery’s juice. The battery can be charged at a home wall-socket in 18-19 hours. It’ll take 8 hours at a charging station at the dealership and can get an 80 per cent charge within an hour if you plug it into a DC fast charger.
The MGZS EV gets a comprehensive makeover for the 2022 model year. Itlooks more modern and is fresher inside too. It does look like MG is attempting to create segmentation and differentiation between the Astor and the ZS EV. So, some of the features are missing in the latter. The need to keep the price of the ZS EV competitive could have also been a factor. It is offered in two trim variants - Excite and Exclusive. E-showroom prices are ₹22 lakh for the Excite and ₹25.9 lakh for the Exclusive trim.