Why would I buy it?
- Bigger battery pack and better claimed range
- Active safety features
- Instantaneous performance
Why would I avoid it?
- Exclusive variant is pricey
- Limited charging infrastructure
- Range anxiety
MG Motor India has done its homework well. Forerunner in the EV race, the ZS EV didn’t have many shortcomings, but there was always a scope of improvement. And these improvements are quite apparent in the new and updated ZS EV. A larger battery and the bump in the motor’s output makes it more usable than before. And the new styling – both inside and out inspired by the Astor – has a better appeal to it compared to the plain Jane looking pre-facelift version. It’s like getting the newest version of the iPhone – it’s better in all the key areas.
Engine and Performance
8 / 10
In the updated ZS EV, the 44.5kWh battery pack is replaced with a 50.3kWh which not only helps with the range, but there’s also a considerable increase in the power sent out by the motors to the wheels. The equivalent of 173bhp is now put down by the motors – up from 143bhp before. But in the process and surprisingly so, the torque figures have come down – 280Nm compared to 350Nm previously. Have these tweaked figures altered the way ZS EV drives?
Yes, it certainly has. It now feels much quicker. To give you a perspective, there are three drive modes here – Eco, Normal and Sport. The older ZS EV’s fastest acceleration feel from the Sport mode can now be experienced in the Normal mode. And the Sport model of the new car feels properly fast, be it off the mark or on the go. There’s an eerie silence accompanied by a wheeze as the ZS EV pulls forward with a dab of throttle. How fast it is in terms of numbers? MG claims 0-100kmph in 8.5seconds.
But we’ll be testing it against our VBox sometime soon in our proper Road Test. Until then, it’s safe to say that the ZS EV is quick to drive and now also fun behind the wheel. Driving in the city, the ZS EV is as convenient and conventional to drive as any other car. It’s comfortable to manoeuvre and has a good amount of power for when there’s a need to go quickly. Out on the highway, it can keep up with anything and is surely way better in the overtaking manoeuvre than the majority of traffic on the road.
As for the range, MG claims 461 kilometres now on a full charge. But this figure varies. Not only from the driving conditions and driving pattern but even when changing drive modes. Shift from Normal to Eco mode and the range increases. Switch from Normal to Sport, and it drops. The range also changes drastically if the air-con is switched on or off. This constantly changing figure on the driver’s display induces range anxiety. But that aside, the percentage drop of the battery pack was quite linear. It didn’t drop suddenly or gain charge by regenerative braking. There are three levels of regen-braking as well.
And if you run out of juice, there are four ways to charge. A portable charger provided in the car will plug in any 15amp socket and take 18-19 hours for a full charge. Second, there is the AC fast charger of 7.4kW capacity fitted at buyers’ house/office or provided at MG’s premises. It will take nine hours for a full charge. The third option is the DC fast charger that can bring the battery from zero to 80 per cent in an hour thanks to its 50kW capacity. Fourth is calling for roadside assistance.
Ride Quality and Handling
7 / 10
There’re no notable changes to the oily bits of the updated ZS EV. Or at least nothing that MG considered important enough to share. So the ride of the refreshed ZS remains good and well absorbent over broken surfaces. There’s a nice balance between stiffness and comfort and the ZS EV can take in even the sharpest of road creases without letting in the noise and vibrations from the road. As the speed increases, it remains flat and even over undulations, there's not much vertical movement. Riding on Michelin Primacy 3ST tyres where ST stands for ‘silence tuned’, there’s still some amount of road noise that can be heard. But we are only nitpicking here because there is no engine noise intruding into the cabin and the latter is a hushed place to be in at city speeds.
As for the steering, it still feels heavily assisted but is fairly quick and responsive past its off-centre. There’s a good heft to it at slow speed and it continues to be like that at highway speeds as well. Unlike the Astor, there’re no settings to alter the steering feel here. It also has a nice self-centring feel to it making it a breeze to drive around the city.
Interior Space and Quality
7 / 10
Carrying over from the Astor, the updated ZS EV has a modern, practical and comfortable cabin that’s also laden with all the new-age features. There’s a new all-digital instrument cluster, contrast red stitches on the all-black leatherette upholstery and a new 10.1-inch touchscreen display which is borrowed from the Astor. It has a new centre screen giving out information on battery charge, range, trip and other unimportant details like ampere and voltage. Apart from these additions, the rest of the cabin remains unchanged.
There’s an electrically adjustable driver’s seat but the steering wheel still doesn’t get a reach to adjust, just rake. Similar to the previous ZS, and the Astor, the seats are large, comfortable and offer a good amount of cushioning in all the right places. So, one can spend long hours in the seat without any complaints. Even visibility all around is good with an ample amount of headroom. But leather upholstery in summer without ventilated seats is an invitation for sweat-designed shirts, especially when you’ll be turning off the AC quite often to extend the range.
The legroom for rear passengers is impressive but the available under-thigh support could have been better still. It’s a snug seat and is best fit for two. You also get a panoramic sunroof adding a sense of premiumness and space. Lastly, the boot is large, usable, and pretty straightforward. Even the seats get a 60:40 split for added practicality.
Features and Equipment
8.5 / 10
Like all other MG offerings, the new ZS EV takes pride in the number of features it has on offer. This higher-spec Exclusive trim gets a lot of bells and whistles, namely LED headlamps and taillamps, 360-degree camera, auto AC with rear vents, panoramic sunroof, inbuilt PM 2.5 air purifier, rain-sensing wipers, six-speaker and steering mounted control. Even the 17-inch aero-friendly alloy wheels look futuristic and gels well with the design of the ZS.
In terms of safety, there are six airbags, ABS, EBD and brake assist, hill start and descent control, TPMS, all-four disc brakes, and ISOFIX. Moreover, the i-Smart connected car tech that debuted with the previous ZS is carried over along with driver-assist hardware. Part of the latter is - blind spot detection system (BSD), lane change assist (LCA) and rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA).
Prices for the new and updated MG ZS EV commence from Rs 22 lakh (ex-showroom) and the one you see in the picture is priced at Rs 25.88 lakh. This means, there’s a slight increase in the pricing, but that’s justified because the updated ZS EV is more powerful, has a larger claimed range, and a slightly updated cabin that should remain fresh for coming years.
At this pricing, there are some worthy and well-established SUVs as an alternative. But if you care for the environment, or the ever-rising fuel cost is burning an unnecessarily large hole in your pocket, the electric MG is a safe bet. Sure, the charging infrastructure is far from practical at the moment. But if you plan your commutes, a new and updated ZS EV with a premium cabin, handsome looks, feature-loaded and practical can be a viable buy. Just like any new iPhone over its predecessor, right?
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi