It’s back with more features, more power and a fresh look
Five years ago, electric mobility was a nascent space. Conventional car makers stepping into the EV space was a rare phenomenon, even rarer when it came to Indian car makers and understandably so. Nonexistent charging infrastructure made customers looking to switch to EVs wary even more than the high asking prices commanded by electric cars. But the tide seems to be turning. Carmakers are not only launching products sold in international markets here, but are also collaborating with tech and energy companies to improve charging infrastructure across the country. And that’s besides the fact that new-age EVs are proving to be unbelievably more affordable to run as compared to their internal combustion engine powered counterparts, while also being equipped with the latest creature comforts and connected features.
One of the latest such examples is the 2022 MG ZS EV. The fully-electric SUV has just received a comprehensive midlife facelift that endows it with a sharper exterior design, revised interiors and more importantly a bigger battery pack and motor both, bumping up the power output and range per charge both. But more importantly, the British car maker has also launched ‘MG Charge’. As part of this new initiative, MG Motor India will be installing 1,000 chargers in residential areas across the country in as many days, which is quite an interesting step from a car maker! But first, let’s take a look at the updated ZS EV.
The premium SUV now looks like an electric version of the Astor, thanks to the similar looking LED headlamps. The distinctive, closed grille, which also houses the repositioned charging port is quick to clear the air about this being the electric version though. The front bumper design has been revised too and it gets a prominent cut at the bottom, right in the centre. The MG badge has also gotten smaller and is a fixed one, unlike the outgoing version where it popped up to reveal the charging port, which I felt was a cool touch.
The wheels are different from the Astor too and are in fact forged steel rims with wheel caps that make the wheels look like cast alloy wheels. More important than their aesthetic design though is the fact that these make for improved aerodynamics and thus have a small role to play in the ZS EV’s improved range. The rear looks more modern too, thanks to the revised elements inside the tail lamp cluster and also the new, sharper-looking bumper.
Interiors have been spruced up too and the dashboard layout has been tweaked and also houses a larger,10.1-inch touchscreen. The interface looks slightly dated, though the ZS EV continues to offer MG’s full spectrum of connected technology including the instant call back function from its customer care centre, should you need any information or navigation to a point of your choice.
Once you're past with the tech features, you will also notice that build quality of the dashboard, door trims, centre console and more is solid and fit-finish levels are very good. Stitching is of a high quality too, besides which the red accents look tastefully added to say the least. Switches for the climate control system have been positioned tactfully for easy use, besides which the quality of switches feels good. Even the finish on the gear selector is very premium and adds to the richness of the cabin.
That said, the new, fully-digital instrument cluster looks a little too busy, especially in comparison to the rest of the cabin which feels very well laid out. Reading its information requires getting used to, though the graphics and layout make it look quite sporty and upmarket. I do wish the graphic display depicting the power being transferred from the battery pack to the wheels and vice-versa was a little larger in size! The steering wheel and seats add to the cabin’s premium feel. Seats also feel well-bolstered though I did want more under thigh support. The rear seat impresses too, with the right amount of cushioning. There's ample legroom and head room at the rear which should impress family SUV buyers, though seating three abreast would be a bit of a squeeze. Then there’s the panoramic sunroof, which adds to the roominess inside.
The 2022 ZS EV packs in a larger, 50.3kWh battery pack (up from 44.5kWh battery pack) that offers a claimed 461km per charge, which is 42km over the outgoing version. MG has also equipped the ZS EV with a more powerful motor that churns out 178PS which is a significant 33.5PS more than last year’s model. That said, peak torque offered is down by 73Nm to 280Nm. However, delivery is instantaneous despite the dip since this is an electric motor, especially in the Sport mode. And that means that you really won’t notice the deficit. Pedal to metal actions thus need you to be cautious, especially in Sport mode where acceleration is quickest.
Eco mode is more docile and numbs responses slightly, but keep the throttle pressed and the ZS EV builds pace impressively. City mode is like a middle ground and is ideal for most situations. What’s also impressive is how responsive the throttle when it comes to modulation and it isn’t snappy at all, offering better feel, especially in traffic.
The ZS EV does not disappoint in the handling department too, something we know already. And one reason behind it’s impressive road manners is the low centre of gravity courtesy the battery pack that sits integrated into the floor. That said the battery casing is rather low and could be a concern on broken roads. Don’t expect the ZS EV to feel sporty around corners but it does offer a very confident feel, besides also staying planted when you build speeds, which adds to its likeable feel. Ride quality is impressive as well and the ZS EV soaked up the battered roads we drove on rather well.
Another feature in the ZS EV that we’ve always liked is the KERS or Kinetic Energy Regenerative System that offers three levels. The system is very effective and in level 3, where deceleration is strongest as soon as you go off the throttle, I was able to gain one percent of charge purely by brake modulation while driving downhill on several occasions! That said brakes could have been stronger, with some more bite. A set of stickier tyres should also help in improving braking feel – the ZS EV runs on Michelin Primacy 3 ST tyres that offer low rolling resistance along with decent grip levels on most occasions, though I was left wanting for some more grip when braking hard. I do get the compromise though, as a set of grippier tyres will eat into the range per charge! Speaking of range, we started our day with 100 percent charge and the car showed up to 430 kilometres of range. And by the end of the day the battery pack still had nearly reached 40 percent charge left and indicated range was still at 130 kilometres which is very impressive.
MG Motor has priced the new ZS EV at Rs 22 lakh ex-showroom for the Excite model while the Exclusive variant you see here is priced at Rs 25.88 lakh ex-showroom. The lower variant is pricier by Rs 50,000 now, while the higher variant is dearer by Rs 70,000. But here’s the tricky bit: the Exclusive variant has been sold out for the year, while the Excite variant will be on offer only July onwards meaning you cannot buy the SUV immediately. Overall, the updated ZS EV does come across as a more enticing package now, given the updates, additional features and most importantly improved performance and range. This, even more considering that its only direct rival, the Hyundai Kona has not been updated since its launch in 2019. But then there’s also the fact that for the ZS EV’s price, you can get very impressive petrol and diesel SUVs like the Mahindra XUV700, Tata Safari and even the Jeep Compass, not to forget, its own sibling, the Hector Plus. These are all significantly larger SUVs and quite impressive in their own right. The 2022 MG ZS EV makes a strong case for itself though as one of the only fully electric premium SUVs. And with the updated model, its ownership experience is likely to be better, given the improved range and also the evolving charging infrastructure, making the updated ZS EV the right product at the right time!