The global fashion magazine April 15, 2024 
MG ZS EV Excite

A familiar friend

Jack Yan continues to be a fan of the MG ZS EV, as he samples the latest version—which reinforces how much he likes base models
Photographed by the author



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Above: A cleaner appearance for the entry-level MG ZS EV. In the photo immediately above, you can compare the pre-facelift ZS, with roof rails, with our current test car.

The MG ZS EV is like an old friend. We’ve had a few on test over the years, but this is the first time we’ve got behind the wheel of the base Excite model—and it’s become one of our favourites.

We liked the 2023 ZS EV tested earlier, where we felt MG had cracked it: the suspension was firmer, making it more of a driver’s car, and the seats were supportive. It could still handle bumps well, with a sufficient compliant ride. The steering was responsive, allowing you to drive this crossover with a bit more brío.

Our test car handles the same, and feels just as comfortable, the same MG Pilot active safety, the 10·1 in touchscreen with the same features, and a grippy, well neatly stitched steering wheel. Where it differs is that this is the 44 kWh model, with a smaller battery capacity—but one that was more than sufficient as our daily driver from the northern suburbs of Wellington into the city.

Visually, you miss out on the roof rails now. If you want them back, then an extra $3,000 to jump to the Essence model is needed, where you will also get a sunroof, folding mirrors, seat warmers, wireless phone charger, rear cross-traffic alert, synthetic leather seats, and electrically adjustable driver’s seat, among other things—but are these features you really need?

No doubt some buyers want them: the sunroof obviously makes the cabin a lighter place to be, and as someone who’s had his mirror knocked by passing traffic, folding ones give you peace of mind. Seat warmers are great in winter. But we also love honest cars, just as we love the base MG 4. It’s the 2020s, and base models are seldom spartan anyway.

Without the roof rails, the ZS EV looks cleaner, and we think it suits the facelift better. A couple of years ago, MG gave the ZS EVs a cleaner nose, endowing them with a more modern appearance. The Excite’s simpler styling makes it look less cluttered.

And do you need the extras? I never used those roof rails anyway—the last time I needed them in any shape or form was over 30 years ago, and that was on my dad’s Ford Sierra. The cleaner appearance makes the ZS look less suburban—and when you actually live in the suburbs, that’s a good thing. The last thing you want is to be a clone of your neighbours. This ZS EV is more about good design than conformity.

Yes, the shape has grown on us. When we first encountered it, it reminded us of an earlier Hyundai Tucson or any number of B-segment crossovers on sale in China. The proportions, we said, weren’t as handsome as those on the larger HS. But the MG is far better screwed together than most Chinese exports, and the improvements the company has made over the years have kept it very competitive. Somehow, we don’t notice the proportions any more.

MG’s keen pricing and consumer preferences toward crossovers over the last decade have made the ZS ubiquitous—but not to the point of boredom. Not every company successfully navigates that, but some do, and that’s through good design. You want to wave at fellow motorists who made the same choice you did (even though we technically didn’t in this case), and you feel part of a family. And it looks a good sight better than some of its competitors: you’re happy to turn back and look at it when parked.

On the road, the Excite soaks up the kilometres effortlessly, and being marginally lighter than its better equipped sister, you’re getting slightly more range, too. There’s no range anxiety and even if you were low on charge, there are enough charging points around cities these days to allay your fears. We love the Eco mode, which gives you a few more kilometres through restricting the air conditioning and power output, and that can only be good for the environment.

Inside, the cabin is very comfortable, and we’re almost prefer the cloth seats to the faux leather in the Essence. The displays are clear and intuitive, and the controls are sensible, including the cruise control stalk. There are some default Android fonts so you have an idea what some of the tech is built around, though we enjoy the customized typefaces on the speedometer and energy meter. The safety features are, as in other ZSs, clever: the 360-degree camera provides a decent rendering of the car in augmented reality, whether from above (while at intersections) or as a 3D model.

Those tweaks for ’24 have made the ZS EV Excite a wonderful proposition, as MG aims to keep the price down in response to government policy. We’re starting to hear some not-so-positive feedback about the quality of the BYD Yuan Plus (Atto 3), so the ZS EV looks like a very safe bet. The seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty makes for an even stronger case. •




Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.




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