Road test: the MG ZS is the most affordable electric vehicle in the UAE market

With 650 green charging stations now installed by Dewa across Dubai, finding a charger isn’t an issue

The UAE’s plan to cut emissions and incentivise people to use electric cars has shown positive results since it was instigated in 2015. However, the major hurdle holding people from committing to zero-emission driving remains the steep purchase price. This is where the new MG ZS EV comes in.

Priced from Dh105,000 ($28,590), the ZS is the most affordable EV on the market by a large margin and could be the catalyst the region needs to get more people behind the wheel of their first electric car.

The history of MG

The former English sports car brand dates back to 1924, when it was the performance division of manufacturer Morris. Operating out of a separate factory, its tuned cars were badged as having come from “Morris Garages” before it grew into a stand-alone manufacturer of affordable sports cars with the named shortened to MG.

The brand cracked the lucrative US market following the Second World War when returning servicemen took their MG TCs back from Europe to America where it soon became the cult car for sports car enthusiasts.

Now, as part of one of the world’s largest EV manufacturers, China’s SAIC corporation, it is the fastest growing car brand in the UK and has access to a battery plant capable of churning more than 300,000 electric vehicle packs every year.

The ZS EV benefits from these economies of scale, containing its EV drivetrain costs. The result is a car that is high on standard equipment and offers all the key features of a city-based EV, yet falls into the larger crossover SUV category.

All charged up

While its looks say off-roader, power goes through the front wheels via a PMS electric motor powered by a 44.5kWh battery, which will charge in about six and a half hours from a home wall box.

A 43kW fast charger using the Type 2 wall socket to suit public chargers at malls and in office parking bays will deliver 160 kilometres of range in roughly 45 minutes, while a 0 per cent to 80 per cent DC charge is claimed to take less than 30 minutes.

Importantly for a hot climate, the battery pack is liquid-cooled rather than fan-forced air-cooled, meaning it should be able to cope with searing temperatures better and maintain a longer range over its life.

The battery is covered by an eight-year, 200,000km warranty and can be plugged into a regular, three-pin wall socket for an overnight trickle charge, while MG also claims the system is entirely modular, allowing individual units to be removed and replaced if needed.

There’s a Type 2 port mounted in the front behind the MG badge, and with a full battery should return 265km in real-world conditions involving a mix of city and highway running. For instance, my regular commute of 25 minutes each way plus a shorter errand sapped about half its range after two days with the air conditioning on maximum. I gave it an overnight trickle charge to top it up for the third day, which saw me out for the rest of the week.

With 650 green charging stations now installed by Dewa across Dubai, finding a charger wasn’t an issue which is good news as the UAE has set a target to have at least 10 per cent of all new cars on the road by 2030 to be either electric or hybrid. It’s part of the Dubai Government’s Carbon Abatement target to reduce C02 emission by 16 per cent since 2016 by the end of this year. The emirate achieved its 2019 target to reduce emissions by 22 per cent, two years ahead of schedule.

Like all privately owned EVs, the MG ZS is eligible for free charging for owners registered in Dewa’s Green Charger initiative that started in 2017 and runs until the end of the year. For commercial businesses that don’t qualify and private purchasers after January 1, the news is still good thanks to this car’s small battery only costing Dh13 to charge from 0 to 100 per cent at the UAE rate of Dh0.29 per kilowatt.

Another upside of a small battery is that it offers more storage room and keeps the weight down to a mere 1,460kg, which is roughly 225kg lighter than its nearest competitor and is a contributing factor to its lower showroom price.

Impressive from the inside out

Performance is sprightly rather than blistering, with a 0-100kph time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 140kph from its single electric motor that delivers 148bhp and 350Nm of torque. It also offers three levels of foot-off energy regeneration with the most aggressive third level almost bringing the car to a stop.

Like most EVs, its ride and handling is impressive thanks to the bulk of its weight lying in the floor-mounted batteries. The result is that it sticks to corners better than most petrol cars in this class.

The level of equipment is impressive with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, rear parking sensors with cross-traffic alert, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for navigation, a reverse parking camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a large panoramic sunroof.

Add to this a new suite of driver aids debuting on the ZS EV that will be incorporated into other models comprising emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, six airbags, radar cruise, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition.

The interior features plenty of soft-touch materials and there are some neat details such as the rotary shift dial that you turn left and right for Reverse and Drive with Park being pressed down.

Two adults are comfortable in the back. I could sit behind my own driving position with a small amount of knee space in front while the 359-litre boot rivals many compact SUVs before revealing a false floor that expands it to 448 litres.

The centre console houses two USB ports, a small tray area and a console box armrest, while there’s another USB in the back, making it a practical space inside for all.

The ZS EV has found its place as the entry-level electric vehicle for those looking to sample zero-emission motoring for the first time or on a budget, and MG should be commended for bringing the overall cost of electric motoring down to an affordable level.

The specs

Engine: 44.5kWh single electric motor

Power: 148bhp

Torque: 350Nm

Price: Dh105,000

Updated: October 15th 2021, 7:16 AM