By Bill McCarthy
THE return of the iconic MG in the last few years has not been plain sailing, but despite this, the brand has made steady sales progress, with MG becoming the UK’s fastest growing car brand.
Originally launched three years ago, the MG ZS has become MG Motors biggest selling car to date, tapping into the ever popular and growing SUV/crossover market and packed with standard equipment that adds eye-watering extra cost to some competitors. Now, the refreshed model aims to build on that success, while the brand has now embraced the growing electric market with the MG5 EV and hybrid technology.
I said a couple of years ago there are three good reasons why the original model was a potential winner: Quality, price and warranty.
Price, well it speaks for itself and starts at £15,495, with the comprehensively-equipped range topper coming in at £17,795. Quality? This is the best of the new MGs yet with top notch styling and improved interior comfort. Warranty? It’s seven years and 80,000 miles, how’s that for peace of mind.
“There is no doubt it is a fine looking car, attracting some curious gazes from passers-by and would not look out of place adorned with one of its prestige competitors badges.”
The latest version, launched this year, is now a real upgrade in quality and while there is no major overhaul, cosmetic changes are significant with the slimmed down two version option available.
There is no doubt it is a fine looking car, attracting some curious gazes from passers-by and would not look out of place adorned with one of its prestige competitors badges.
While looking like the SUV/crossover that it is, it has some neat new design touches and the large and still famous MG badge adorning the large grille.
Revisions include a new hexagonal grille, with newly-shaped full LED headlamps which sweep back towards the wings and it features aluminium-effect lower grille and fog-lights on this range-topping Exclusive.
Striking 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, new design tail lights and silver roof bars add to a muscular road presence.
There are two models, Excite and Exclusive. The entry level, if you can describe such a well-equipped model in such a way, is generously equipped, with alloys, air con, cruise control, USB connectivity with Bluetooth, electric windows and door mirrors, LED daytime running lights and a host of other goodies.
This Exclusive model adds a couple of grand to the price and more bells and whistles with updated 10.1 inch floating colour touchscreen featuring navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth telephone and music streaming through six-way speaker system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus digital information display and 360 degree reversing camera.
The interior is much more upmarket, with this model offering heated, leather-style powered front seat and mutli-adjustable front passenger seat, new piano key buttons arranged beneath the floating colour touchscreen, and better quality trim, fixtures and fittings.
Seats are supportive and there is excellent head and legroom for a car of its dimensions. The vehicle provides around 55mm additional rear shoulder room and 80mm rear headroom than the segment average.
All round vision is also good, while stowage space is cavernous with a deep split-level boot offering 448 litres of capacity and when seats are folded, provides plenty of room for prams, luggage, outdoor leisure equipment or the weekly shop.
Other oddment holders and cup holders add extra practicality.
Engine choice should not be a problem with a single 1.5 litre VTI-Tech petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with an auto box option available.
With 106PS available, it does not sound like the most powerful, but is a refined unit and has enough grunt to hit 60mph in just over 10 seconds, has a claimed real world economy of 41.4mpg, pretty impressive for a car of this size. However, CO2 emissions of 155g/km are on the high-ish side.
It is a pleasant car to drive, a smooth and comfortable ride, with passengers well insulated from road, engine and wind noise. The car belies it high-off-the-ground profile with decent handling, dismissing all but the most potholed of roads and the suspension works well on corners where it feel stable and well planted.
For a more individual drive, both models come with three power assisted steering modes – Urban, Normal and Dynamic – which are designed to give the driver complete control over their ride.
There’s no doubt that MG’s growing success will continue with an ever improving range ad more models coming on stream. Add to that a hugely attractive price tag and that seven-year warranty.
MG ZS 1.5 Exclusive
Mechanical: 109bhp, 1498cc, four cylidner petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Combined mpg: 41.4
Insurance group: 11
CO2 emissions: 155g/km
Warranty: 7yrs/80,000 miles’