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Gareth Butterfield tests the revised MG ZS

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MG as a brand didn’t exactly come from nothing, but it might as well have done. Resurrected by the Chinese with hopes it may return to its glory days of sports car production, it’s fair to say it got off to a false start.
We were first introduced to the MG6. A fairly good but forgettable first stab at bringing the brand back to the mainstream. The MG3 followed, and that was surprisingly decent, but since those tentative footsteps, MG Motor UK has put almost all its eggs in the SUV basket.
It’s also becoming a dab-hand at making electric vehicles, and thanks to keen pricing and generous equipment levels, the company is now enjoying huge success.
One of its most successful cars is the ZS, a small SUV holding its own in a crowded segment, has just been updated. It looks smarter, and there’s more technology bundled in than ever before.GB_TEM_250222_motors_02_result
Another thing carried over from the previous generation is the surprising quality feel to the interior. As with premium rivals, you get a large infotainment screen, a digital instrument cluster and some plush leather trim rounding off the edges. The centre console is a great design, especially at this price point.
The price is an important thing to mention, as it’s one of the ZS’s big strengths. The bottom-of-the-range Excite model comes in at just £16,495 and that’s quite a bargain when you consider it still has the 10.1″ touchscreen infotainment system and other goodies such as rear parking sensors.
Add in a better engine, the 1.0 turbo is a big improvement over the 1.5VTI, and this price jumps to £19,000. Largely because that engine in this trim comes mated to an automatic gearbox. To be honest, the manual is excellent, and worth considering. It’s a shame it only has five gears, but fifth is long enough for motorway travel.
There’s also the Exclusive trim, which brings that digital instrument display along with a trick 360-degree camera setup and heated leather seats.GB_TEM_250222_motors_03_result
This would set you back £18,795 for the basic engine combo, and take you past £20,000 if you wanted the better engine, with either a manual or auto gearbox.
There is also, of course, an electric version, which is also proving a big hit, starting at £27,495.
With all the above examples, you’ll be given an impressive seven-year warranty though, so it’s a good proposition for cash buyers and PCP funders alike.
Interior space is good, visibility is fine, and there’s a decent boot with split-folding seats. The interior is arguably the ZS’s best strength.
Dig around enough and you can find where costs have been cut. The heated seats, for example, annoyingly can only be controlled through the slightly lethargic touch screen, and they seem to have just two settings – off, and “barbecue”.
A physical handbrake is nice to see, as are electric seats, but the petrol versions of the ZS are still started by a key. Which, along with the missing sixth gear, does feel a bit old-tech.
Happily though, it does drive very well. Neither engine will set your trousers on fire, and don’t expect a sporty drive, but it does feel nicely balanced and capable in the corners, with surprisingly good feel from the steering.
The ZS is better than it’s ever been, and this continual improvement bodes well for MG’s future. It’s certainly a serious proposition now, and that’s high praise in this fiercely-contested sector.

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