With almost all brands having at least one crossover to offer at the sub 35 lac price segment, the entry-level crossover market is probably the most competitive segment in Bangladesh.
To add to this segment, Morris Garage has brought yet another variant of the ZS to Bangladesh. A sibling to the 1.5L ZS and the ZS EV, the ZS 1.3T is an entry-level 5 seater crossover that competes directly with the Haval H2, Honda HR-V and Toyota Crolla Cross in Bangladesh.
Despite operating as a Chinese automaker with a British origin, MG has surprisingly been able to make a name for itself in the local car scenario. Mainly because of the industry-leading features their cars offer at the same or even lower prices when compared to the competition.
The ZS was the first-ever nameplate to be offered by the brand back in Bangladesh when it made its official debut in 2019. Now in 2021, MG has brought a refreshed version of the ZS with tons of new features and an updated design.
From a distance, the refreshed ZS somewhat reminds me of Korean designs of the old, before they began incorporating weird headlights and odd geometric shapes to their body. However, a closer inspection makes the restyled exterior look rather rejuvenated. The new redesigned front end features a set of new headlights, recessed fog lamps and a new grille with the MG logo placed right in the middle. From the front, the wide fender arches of the ZS give the impression of a much larger car than it actually is.
Moving to the side, the crossover comes fitted with 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin tires. The use of chrome trim is limited, most of the usual places are instead finished in gloss black, including the side mirror covers. It was an intentional move to make the car look more sporty, as evident by the addition of red-coloured brake callipers on all four wheels. Roof racks come standard from the factory, and in our provided press car, were painted silver.
The rear end also received a touch-up from the previous generation with the new styling looking weirdly similar to that of a Volkswagen product. Although given that the current parent company of MG, SAIC Motors, also has a joint venture with Volkswagen, it somewhat makes sense. The MG badge placed right in the centre of the rear hatch acts as the rear trunk release for the crossover. The rear bumper spots two fake exhaust tips, with the actual exhaust mounted hidden under the bumper on the left side. l. The "T" of the ZST badging is coloured in red, probably a reference to the brand's sports car' heritage.
The MG we got to review was the ZS Trophy which is the highest trim available for the ZS. With a combination of red and black leatherette along with faux carbon panels, the ZS Trophy's inside looks rather sporty, especially with the red-accented perforated leather steering wheel. A gorgeous way to pay a tribute to the company's storied racing heritage.
Everything from the armrest to the door cards is covered in soft-touch materials, and the rest of the upholstery is made from "vegan leather". The driver gets to enjoy a 6-way electorally adjustable seat while the front passenger seat can be manually adjusted in 4 ways. The driver and front passenger seats are heated as well.
The rear seat features ample legroom and can fit anyone up to 6 feet quite comfortably. The rear passengers also get two separate USB ports at the rear and while the front occupant gets two more, alongside a standard 12V port.
The industry-leading full-sized panoramic sunroof adds up to the riding experience, making the ZS feels a lot roomier than it actually is.
For entertainment, the MG has an intuitive 10.1-inch infotainment system that supports both wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system is connected to a factory-tuned 6 speaker audio system which I can assure is enough to keep you distracted from the typical unbearable honking of Dhaka traffic.
Speaking of the number 6, the car also comes with 6 airbags, spread all acrosses the cabin to protect its occupants.
Features and Practicality
Something I love about the Chinese automakers is the plethora of features they offer compared to other JDM or European cars they compete with. Take the ZST for example. An entry-level crossover equipped with a 360-degree surround camera with birds-eye view that pops up on the infotainment screen every time the driver puts the car into reverse or with the press of the 360 camera button. Then there is intelligent speed limit assist, traffic jam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, active emergency braking, lane keep assist and blind-spot detection. Other features include direct tire pressure and temperature monitoring system and a real-time fuel economy chart which can be displayed on the digital dashboard display.
Usually, entry-level crossovers are mainly designed to be the grocery getters and not to be taken on vacations. Yet, the ZST offers a sizable boot space of 359 litres, which increases up to a whopping 1,187 litres when the 40/60 rear split seats are folded down completely. This is one of the highest boot spaces when compared to other entry-level crossovers in its class.
Getting onto the driver's seat, the car gives a premium yet sporty feeling. MG's history roots back to a racing heritage of over 100 years, when the then-British automaker used to make performance-oriented cars. The automaker is still known to put a bit of that 'exciting punch' into their cars and the ZST hasn't been left behind. Powered by a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine paired to a completely variable transmission, the acceleration feels a bit laggy at first but starts to gain substantial momentum after the turbo kicks in. We tried out the manumatic mode featuring eight simulated gears and I can assure you that it makes the car a bit more playful compared to the normal automatic mode.
The suspension is on the comfier side and we couldn't feel much of a difference when switching between the sports mode and the regular driving mode. The steering starts to get stiffer as the car speeds up, leading to engaging corner attacks if bit wallow-y thanks to the car's rather noticeable body roll.
The current market of 5-seater entry-level crossovers is quite saturated with many brand new and recondition options available. However, there's barely any other car that offers nearly as many features as the MG ZST. Priced at 29 and a half lac BDT, the MG comes with two years of registration and a 3-year or 60,000k global warranty.
There isn't much to complain about anything regarding the ZS. The build quality is great, the driving experience was amazing, and the car comes with features that cannot be found in many other crossovers in its segment. There's ample headroom and legroom both in the front and rear and the car is practical as well. All in all, the MG ZS is a superb choice for families looking forward to driving their own car and plans to get the most out of a crossover.
This review was originally published in the March issue of Wheels magazine. Click here to order yours.