An icon of the British motoring industry, MG - Morris Garage, was founded in 1924 as a performance division of the Morris car company. It later spun off to become its own brand, mainly focusing on two-door performance coupes.
It was one of the many brands that were swallowed up by the ill-fated British Leyland, a merger that pretty much spelt the death of the British car industry. After BL's collapse, it was given to British Aerospace in 1986, who sold it to BMW in 1994, which abandoned it in the 2000s.
After a failed attempt at independent car making, the brand was bought by the Chinese Nanjing Automobile Group, which merged with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in 2007.
Now, MG is mainly focused on making practical cars, however, they often do try to inject a bit of sportiness in each of their designs and the 2020 ZS EV is one such example.
An unassuming exterior
The ZS EV's exterior is almost identical to its ICE (internal combustion engine) brethren, except for a few stubble changes. The most obvious one - besides the badging - is the unique 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels exclusive to the EV model.
Inspecting the car's grille will reveal another difference and explain the lack of a fuel door.
Hidden under the grille is a compartment containing its CCS (combined charging system) and Type 2 charging ports, capable of charging the 44.5kWh battery pack to 80 percent in 45 minutes.
Combine these hard-to-spot differences with the electric motor's silent nature, the ZS EV makes for quite a sneaky car. Useful if you are not into parading.
A comfortable interior
Climbing inside the MG ZS EV reveals a well equipped and plush interior.
Many of the nice amenities of a petrol ZS are carried over, such as the panoramic sunroof, synthetic leather upholstery, eight-inch infotainment screen, and so on. One notable change is the gear lever, which has been swapped for a drive mode select knob.
Being an EV, the ZS has quite a few charging ports.
There are two male USB ports near the left side of the driver's foot, while the front passenger gets a 12-volt socket. The rear passengers, however, have to be content with a single female USB port located at the end of the centre console.
When it comes to music, the two tweeters and four speakers are more than enough for a car of this size, and with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay, you can easily play your favourite music.
The ZS EV's storage situation is rather good as the cargo bay has a generous 359 litres of space. This already large space can be expanded to a massive 1187 litres by folding down the rear seats.
Under the cargo bay, there is an additional compartment, which, for the combustion variant, holds a spare tire. However, in the BEV car, that has been replaced by a sealant kit to make room for the emergency 240V three-pin portable eight-amp charger, capable of recharging the battery in 33 hours.
An exhilarating drive
The ZS EV's behind-the-wheel experience is really exciting, if a bit scary.
Put the car into sport mode, press down the pedal, and the car will silently accelerate like a bolt out of a crossbow. Its official 0-100 is 8.2 seconds, though it reaches two-thirds of it in four seconds.
The torque from the electric motor is instant and it is powerful enough to stop you from breathing. With the rapid acceleration, however, comes another, unexpected challenge.
The ZS EV is light on driver's assist, meaning nothing is stopping the car from torque steering. Flooring the pedal will cause the car to veer to the left, which unless you are prepared for, might lead to some unfortunate events.
Besides the blistering sport mode, the car has two others - normal and eco. Each notably tunes down the acceleration speed, but even in eco mode, the ZS EV moves about as fast as a brand new CVT (continuously variable transmission) compact sedan in sport mode.
Much like the drive mode, the kinetic energy recovery system - known to the rest of the industry as regenerative braking - has three levels, with the strongest mode slowing down the car three times faster.
Despite the massive torque, the ZS EV retains the crossover suspension, meaning it is quite floaty when taking a corner. The seat bolster somewhat helps to keep you in place but relying on them is not recommended.
The MG ZS EV is a decent choice for those who are looking for an environment-friendly transport that is not flashy or bank-breaking.
Its straight-line performance also makes for a decent hot hatch substitute, without all the hurdles of actually owning one.
The biggest issue we can see with this car is the tax bracket, although according to officials of Rancon British Motors, they are working with the government to make sure it falls under the same category as 1,500CC vehicles.
Overall, the ZS EV is a decent family car that is quiet, efficient, and has the power to scratch most people's performance itch. Although if you do keep a driver, make sure he never discovers the sport mode.