Growing up as a kid, we had family friends who were mad on MG’s. They loved their MGB’s and were always talking about them at our Sunday night social events. I’m of the generation that MG’s were not really a big thing, they were old classic English cars that had not become collectable or valuable yet, and people were not yet saying “I really wish I hadn’t sold my MG”.

Because of this, I knew about them and their cult status with some people, but never had I had the opportunity to spend some time in one. When the MG EV ZS appeared on the test schedule I was definitely intrigued. Would it exude old-school English charm and sophistication, or be just another mid-range perfectly competent vehicle from Asia?

Read on to find out about what was a way more interesting time than I anticipated in this particular vehicle.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2023 MG ZS EV Long Range

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Safety tech works well
Diamond Red colour is very nice
Comfortable seats
Dash materials are well done
Real-world vs. actual range discrepancy
Overall sense of blandness

What’s In The 2023 MG ZS EV Range?

The 2023 MG ZS EV comes in three flavours, starting with the entry-level EXCITE model. This features a 51.1 kWh lithium-ion battery giving 320km of range. It consists of all the MG Pilot safety features and is reasonably well specced at $50,990.

Moving up to the ESSENCE model you get a few nice upgrades, including the panoramic glass sunroof, leather seats and wireless phone charging and this comes in at $53,990. The top of the range model is the LONG RANGE, and this is the version I was lucky enough to test. This features an increased capacity battery, up to 72.6kWh which consequently increases the advertised range to 440km and starts at $59,990.

Colour-wise, you have 5 options. In non-metallic you have Dover White, then in the metallics Diamond Red, Pebble Black, Sloane Silver and Brighton Blue are your options. Interestingly there is no extra cost for the metallic options.

2023 MG ZS EV EXCITE Standard Equipment Highlights

  • 3 Driving Modes (Eco, Normal, Sport)
  • 3 Regenerative Braking Modes (1,2,3)
  • Full electric liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel with contrast stitching & perforation detail
  • Push Button Start
  • i-SMART connectivity
  • 360 view camera
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Fabric Seats
  • Driver’s 6-way manually adjustable seat
  • Front centre armrest with storage
  • 10.1″ Multi-function colour touch screen Apple CarPlay & Android AUTO
  • MG Pilot Driver Safety Technology 
  • Vehicle to load functionality (V2L)
  • 17″ ‘Propeller’ alloy wheel aero cover
  • Range of up to 320km (WLTP)

2023 MG ZS EV ESSENCE Upgraded Equipment Highlights

  • Panoramic Glass Sunroof with Sunshade and Anti-Trap
  • Front seat heating – driver and passenger
  • Electrically folding, heated, body colour door mirrors
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • 6 speaker audio with 3D sound effect
  • Blind spot detection
  • Roof Rails
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Synthetic Leather Seats
  • Driver’s 6-way electrically adjustable Seat

2023 MG ZS EV LONG RANGE Upgraded Equipment Highlights

  • Range of up to 440km (WLTP)
  • Privacy Rear Window

Including the optional equipment our review car’s retail price is $59,990

For a full list of specs and options available for the MG ZS EV Long Range head on over to the MG New Zealand website

How Does The 2023 MG ZS EV Long Range Compare To Its Competition?

One thing that became apparent when searching out comparable full electric SUV’s is there are not many out there at the moment, and those that are are pretty pricey. I found a lot in the $75,000 and above range, but not much below or around the MG ZS EV range.

I generally leave the pricing till the end as it’s good to think about the vehicle unbiased with the thought of how much you would be spending. In this particular example, it started to make me change my mind and realise you are getting a lot of car for your money. Especially when you are paying 50% more for the potentially class-leading Hyundai Ionig 5.

All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.

Make / ModelBattery
Range (WLTP)Boot
(excl CCP)
Hyundai Ioniq 5 Elite AWD (SUV)72.6160/3508.5430537$96,990
Volkswagen ID.477150/3108.5519543$72,990
Tesla Model Y (RWD)60220/4206.9455854$67,750
MG ZS EV Long Range72.6130/2808.5440km359$59,990
BYD Atto 3 Extended60150/3107.3420440$59,990

First Impressions Of The 2023 MG ZS EV Long Range

My first impression of the MG ZS EV Long Range was one that stayed with me the whole time I had the vehicle and I was unable to shake it. It’s a bit meh, a bit bland. There is nothing wrong with it, but just nothing to grab your attention and make you want to take it out for a spin. No excitement or passion is inspired when you first see it. 

The lines are fine, proportions nice, but it could be a Mazda or early generation RAV4. And that’s a shame, because MG is an iconic brand, and the Diamond Red is a really nice colour, which would look stunning on a more adventurous exterior design.

MG’s of days gone by were individual, iconic and revered by the motoring public. That was what I wanted when I picked this vehicle up, but it didn’t grab me like that. 

What’s The Interior Like In The 2023 MG ZS EV Long Range?

Upon opening the doors and getting inside the MG ZS, you are met with quite a nice interior. There is nothing that jumps out at you with excitement and awe, but again there is nothing that disappoints. It looks good, if not a bit plain, but has an air that someone has put a bit of design thought in.

The first things I always tend to look at are the steering wheel and seats. Here the MG ZS EV is fine; the steering wheel is a nice diameter and the molded hand grips are a good size. The leather outer feels good, and combined with the perforated hand area and red stitching it looks the part. The 9 and 3 o’clock spokes feature multiple buttons to control the various systems on the vehicle. These were well-positioned and easy to reach.

Front seats continue the theme of good enough but nothing special. They are a nice leather with red stitching, reasonably comfortable, but again offer nothing to wow you. Electric adjustability combined with adjustable steering allowed me to find a good driving position, but both my wife and I found the seats to be soft and bouncy around town. We did however find them comfortable on a long drive and had no real complaints. Straight after the launch event, Fred had the opportunity to drive the MG ZS EV 600km from Auckland down to Wellington. Like me, he also found the seat comfort to be fine on this long trip.  

The dashboard is one of the areas the interior design has done well on. It again features bright red stitching, and also a fake carbon effect vinyl upper layer. This coupled with aluminium trim around the air vents and instrument cluster gives a clean look.

The centre of the dashboard has a 10.1” colour touch screen. It looks a little like an afterthought, and is not as integrated into the dash as nicely as other vehicles I’ve recently tested. As is common now this becomes your control centre for the entire vehicle and aside from this, you have minimal physical controls. The infotainment comes with Apple CarPlay, which works seamlessly and as expected. It did however bring up another gripe of mine, personally, I fail to understand why manufacturers would allow Bluetooth connections to phones, but then install CarPlay or Android Auto that requires a cable. I understand it probably costs more, but having to physically connect your phone with a cable seems so antiquated. 

Below the touch screen is a single row of toggle buttons that are shortcut controls to commonly used features; temperature, demisters, volume etc. In the centre console between seats you have a large rotary dial for engaging drive or reverse, and another three toggle switches that control drive mode, regenerative braking and display the battery energy management interface.

Two USB plugs, both an a and c type, 12-volt power source and generous cup holders complete the centre console.

On the passenger’s side you have the same comfy seat, although without the electronic adjustability. The glove box is a decent size, aided by having no owner’s manual inside. MG are pretty proud of this technological aspect, the owner’s manual is purely digital and accessed through the infotainment system, but personally, I found it really annoying. It’s much slower to access and find information, and I also like to take it out of the vehicle to research, something impossible with this setup.

The rear seats are similar in style and design to the front, complete with red stitching. Room is plentiful for passengers and as an average-sized gentleman, I had no problem with the head room. At the rear of the centre console you have individual vents and multiple USB outlets to keep your passengers comfortable and occupied.

When seated, visibility both front and rear is generally pretty good. The boot, whilst not huge on paper, was roomy enough for the two of us, though I wonder how a family would find it on the summer holidays. With the traditional 60/40 split of the rear seats, a lot more room is opened up, but obviously at the cost of seating space. 

Overall the interior is light and roomy, largely due to a very nice panoramic glass roof, and build quality is good.

What’s The 2023 MG ZS EV Long Range Like To Drive?

My first day driving the MG ZS EV was not the best advertisement for Wellington – cold and rainy on what is obviously a very rare occasion. It’s kind of what I imagine the English winter to be like, and conditions I assume the MG would feel right at home in.

Driving around town, the MG proved very adept in these conditions. The wipers worked great, I didn’t encounter any misting or condensation issues, and after picking up my wife and colleague from work, the first thing they commented on was how good the heating was. 

One thing with the heating though, it only contains one control for the temperature. Whilst I am not convinced that multi-zone climate systems work well in cars, giving the impression of it and the ability for the passenger to control the temp of air they are blasted with would be nice. The vents themselves worked well and controlling direction was easy.

I spent a couple more days driving around town and once again the same theme kept coming through, and that is one of mediocrity. Sure there are a few things that are not great and perhaps a bit annoying, but nothing really bad. 

It was time to take it on the open road for a weekend away and this is where the excitement arrived, although not in the way you are probably imagining. I’m developing a love-hate relationship with electric vehicles, and this only fuelled the fire. A close friend of mine and I have been debating the merits of them for a long time now. He’s more of a greenie and I’m a car guy. Whilst I want to look after the environment, I also want to drive without interruption. Around town, this is no problem and despite not having a charger at home, you can generally get away without too much inconvenience. The open roads of New Zealand however, with limited and unreliable infrastructure are another story. 

Heading off we had 62% charge, with MG’s advertised 440 km of range, based on the WLTP testing standard, this should give us 270 odd kms of range and put us on the limit to get us to our preferred charging point in Waipukurau. The omens were not good, however, as 15 minutes out of Wellington, the indicated range was down to 215km. Luckily the Apple CarPlay integration was working well, so I immediately asked Siri where the closest chargenet station was. Hilarity ensued as it kept directing me to one in California much to my wife’s amusement. Despite my best efforts we eventually had to give up and go semi-old school by stopping and checking the app. It was decided Woodville would be the first stop for a splash and dash, then onto Waipukurau for the final charge before hitting Napier. 

Arriving at Woodville, we found the charging station with no problem and proceeded to top up. Apple told me Waipukurau was 80km away. I know the road well, it’s a little twisty and a little lumpy. Also knowing by now that the estimated range on the vehicle is significantly different than the theoretical, and is also not accurate, we took the safe option and charged till we had 95km range on the dash. Surely a big enough safety margin. 

Well, it got us there, with 6km to spare. No worries I thought, and off to the charger we went. There was a car already charging which exposes one of the anomalies with the New Zealand infrastructure. Despite there being two cables, you can only charge one vehicle at a time, due to the fact one cable is a type1 and the other a type 2. So we waited our turn, plugged in and nothing. After 5 minutes of searching the manual, resetting everything, and reconnecting everything, still the MG refused to charge. A quick call to the dealer I picked it up from confirmed I was doing everything correctly. A phone call to Chargenet to see if the charge point was all ok resulted in them resetting it multiple times, telling me they would start charging remotely from their end, and still not be able to get it kicked off. 

This was starting to get problematic as it was now 6pm, dark, cold and we were still 50km away from our destination with only 5km range. Time to call MG Roadside Assistance, and here I have to give top marks; The lady on the end of the line was super knowledgeable and started explaining to me that when the EV’s get really low on their high voltage circuit, the low voltage (standard 12v) can also get drained. Unfortunately, if this happens you then can’t kick off the charging process, as it’s required to initiate it. I assume by means of operating a solenoid or something. Anyway, she assured me that the rescue guy would be able to top up the low-voltage battery and then we should be fine. This was consistent with my research in the manual, which confirmed the red battery symbol visible on the dash at the time was a low-voltage circuit failure.

Ten minutes later, Chris from Chris White Auto Electrical arrived and confirmed the low-voltage battery was fine. He hooked up his rescue pack, and still no luck in getting charging started. This was starting to get even more serious, as I wasn’t looking forward to finishing the journey on the back of a flat deck, and we were now down to 3km range. 

A plan was formed and Chris offered for us to drive to his workshop, critically only 2 km away, and we would hook up the included slow charger there. This worked, but would be hours till it gave us any meaningful range. Whilst there we tried to find the closest working fast charger; Plugshare said the local campground had one. Chris obviously knows the local community so rang the owner at his home, who amusingly said no he doesn’t have one and he has been wondering why people keep rocking up to charge their vehicles.

Apparently, the local electricity provider has chargers at their workplace, a few more phone calls confirmed their existence but getting approved access was asking a few too many favours, so we called it a night. Chris kindly said he’d keep the vehicle charging at his place till the next day and we departed to get some dinner, and a lift up to Napier, with the nice feeling of remembering what small-town local hospitality was like.

The next day we headed back to Waipukurau, picked up the vehicle which was now at 40%, and drove to the fast charger which was now working with no problem. We decided on a no-risk strategy this time and gave ourselves 98% charge, or according to the dash 342 km for the drive home. Remember the 440km advertised range… yeah so do I. We made it, and there were no more dramas, but after 250km on the road we had 35km range left. I previously worked in an industry known for creative accounting, but I’m starting to think the electric car industry is right up there as well.

During the trip home we received a call from the lady that organised our rescue for MG Roadside Assist, to make sure everything was ok and we were on our way. Now that we were all safe and moving, and after I told her how well we had been looked after, she let it slip that apparently calls from that particular charging station were not uncommon, something Chris had already told me.

One thing you may be thinking, on the way up why didn’t we fully charge in Woodville instead of pushing through to Waipukurau? Well, in all my journeys so far, the Waipukurau fast charger is almost 50% cheaper than any other I have come across. It is the only one I know of with a 40c / kWh rate and no additional time-based fee.

So ignoring all these fun and games, how did the MG go when driving on the open road?

Like most manufacturers these days, MG advertise a lot of safety and intelligent drive features and these were actually pretty good with only one misfire. This was the cruise control which I found to wander around quite a bit. 2-3-km/h may not sound a lot, but other cars I’ve driven lately have stayed glued to the setting on the same terrain, so I don’t feel I’m being harsh. Also when set to adaptive cruise control the following distance was not always consistent and seemed slow to respond. 

What was very impressive however was the intelligent speed limit assist. With cruise control set, the MG’s AI system was exceptional at recognising both permanent and temporary speed limit zones, adjusting the cruise control accordingly and resetting it once out of the zone. As well as this the Lane Keep Assist did a great job, the intelligent headlight control was great, as was the active emergency braking. The highlight however was the blind spot detection. We are all probably now used to the little lights or other symbols on wing mirrors that let us know there is something in our blind spot. MG has taken this one step further and on one of the dash modes, there is a little animation that shows where other vehicles are around you. This reminds me of some of the 80’s arcade racing games, simplistic presentation, but really useful information. From this, I take that MG obviously have a good grasp on their spatial recognition and awareness as all these systems that are working well rely heavily on this. It makes the cruise control an interesting one then, perhaps it is more a motor control and drivetrain responsiveness issue.

MG makes a point in their advertising that in order to achieve dynamic handling and chassis feel, the ZS EV’s powertrain has been intelligently packaged to achieve a low centre of gravity. I’m not sure I feel they have hit their goal with this, although the ride was good, it was not nimble or dynamic and gave an impression of being imprecise and a sense of wallowing around on the road. It was not dangerous or unnerving or anything concerning, just a feeling of laziness on the open road. Our vehicle had the 215/55 R17 wheels, which are not a particularly high profile and the MG is reasonably low so I don’t feel it had anything to do with these. 

Speaking of the tyres, these were pretty quiet on both the open road and around town. That coupled with minimal wind noise made for a relatively quiet driving experience.

The MG ZS EV features 3 driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. All I could feel between them was a difference in the accelerator pedal and steering feel, with both getting more responsive as you go up in the modes.

MG calls their regenerative braking KERS, an acronym for “Kinetic Energy Recovery System” and here you have three modes. I found myself using the highest level “3” most of the time and didn’t find it too harsh. It was nice however to have options if you would like less.

As mentioned before, visibility out the front and rear was good, the seats were comfy and the general driving position/ergonomics worked well. The steering wheel controls are positioned well, although I did find the right-hand ones a little unintuitive and they took a little while to work out. The infotainment unit is in a good place, and has lots of useful information, especially on energy usage, although I must admit, once I have everything set up I tend to just use CarPlay for my maps, and music and generally as much as I can. One thing I did notice with the touch screen was the sensitivity was a lot less than I am used to and I found myself frustrated at times when it didn’t recognise my fingers. Oh yes, and fingerprints…

During our total time with the ZS EV Long Range, we averaged 20.0 kWh / 100km and managed to travel an impressive 1,980km.

2023 MG ZS EV Long Range – Specifications

Vehicle TypeElectric SUV
Starting Price$59,990
Price as Tested$59,990
Engine115kW Electric Motor
Power, Torque
115 / 280
Spare WheelNone
Kerb Weight, Kg1,620
Length x Width x Height
4,323 x 1,809 x 1,649
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
359 / 1,187
Energy Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 16.5
Real-World Test – Combined – 20.0
Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
500 / 500
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty7-Year Unlimited Km Comprehensive Manufacturer Backed Warranty.
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 4 stars – 5 Stars

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2023-mg-zs-ev-long-range-electric-car-reviewThe MG ZS EV Long Range is a perfectly adequate SUV that comes in at a very good price point. The technology in it works well, but overall it feels like it is a generation old in design, and this should be no surprise as whilst being a facelift, at its core it’s a 7-year old design.  <br><br> Apart from nice paint, and well-executed interior leather and materials, there is nothing to grab you. That’s a shame as MG is making aesthetically modern vehicles, the MG4 for example, and you do get a lot for your money. <br><br> Hopefully, the next generation of MG SUV retains the good tech, low price and incorporates their latest flair for design and brings the brand back to what I remember it for.


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