MG ZS EV Long Range car review
Is the additional cost for a bigger battery worth it?
The electric MG ZS EV is proving very popular on our shores. New Zealand sales data has the vehicle sitting prettily at third on the EV list, with over 1100 registered as of June 2023.
There are three models of the MG ZS EV, and the most expensive one, the Long Range, has just had a decent $5000 price reduction to $60,000.
So we took it away for a weekend to see how it goes.
- Large 72.6kWh battery with a claimed 440km range.
- Smooth driving experience.
- Feels more powerful than the claimed 115kW.
- Nice cabin that feels well put together.
- Fast-loading infotainment system.
- Cramped interior.
- Window defrost could be better.
- Dedicated wall charger needed for the bigger battery.
- No front parking sensors.
- Lane-keep assist is very “grabby”.
What’s different in the Long Range?
I’d already tried the smaller battery version of the MG ZS EV for a week, and the overall experience with the Long Range was similar. The chief difference was the bigger battery. The other changes are a lower maximum power output to help extend range (115kW, down from 130kW in the other models) and privacy glass at the back (for the celebrities amongst us).
My initial 15km drive from the dealership to my house reminded me that the lane-keep assist function in the MG is very insistent. You have to keep a firm hand on the wheel and the car pulls you quite violently back into line when it detects you’re wandering. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing, it probably exposed my lazy driving habits more than anything – but I did keep a tighter grip and a better eye on my lane position for the remainder of my time with the car.
I didn’t notice the 15kW power drop in my day-to-day driving – apparently it adds 0.3 seconds to the 0–100kph time, which is nothing in practical terms. The car still has plenty of oomph and you can do weirdly silent burnouts if you hoof it.
I’d complained about the loud indicators when I tested the smaller battery model – until a helpful reader pointed out you can turn down the volume in the car settings. I tried it this time and had success! It really improved my time behind the wheel.
How’d it go?
We packed up the Long Range for three nights away in the Wairarapa and used it for a day either side at home in Wellington.
Our days away involved a 70km trip over the Remutaka Hill, then driving all over the shop while we were there. In all, it was about 240km of driving. It was a gruelling test for an EV – especially as it was basically all at highway speeds, which isn’t good for range. The mid-winter July temperatures have a detrimental effect on range too.
The seats got the comfort seal of approval from my 8-month pregnant wife and the seat warmers were very welcome on the frosty mornings and cold evenings. The Long Range is very capable and smooth as a tourer, and did everything it needed to do, including the odd overtake when required. It did feel like it took a long time to clear the windscreen of condensation, and I had to keep the air blasting to maintain the clarity too.
On arriving home from the trip away, I’d used 66% of the battery. The Long Range was telling me it was good for another 97km of driving, which added to the 240km of our trip, would take us to 337km. Clearly, reaching the claimed 440km maximum range would prove difficult with me behind the wheel.
Still, 337km is nearly a run from Wellington to Taupō on a single charge – and I couldn’t do that non-stop in my petrol car without the help of adult diapers. A 20-minute spell at a fast charger would probably be required along the way, but that’d allow for a leg stretch and a bite to eat.
I’ve previously got away with topping up borrowed EVs at home on my three-point plug, but this proved to be woefully inept with the Long Range after a weekend away. If you buy an electric car with a larger battery, a dedicated wall charger is a necessity. My plug-in overnight charge only managed to add 30% to the battery’s charge level.
The extra cost for a bigger battery seems worth it to me. I replaced the moniker “range anxiety” with “range confidence” in my 4 days with the MG ZS EV Long Range before I needed to charge it. Previous excursions in electric cars with smaller batteries always had me acutely aware of their range. But I could forget it in the Long Range. In fact, if I used it for my day-to-day driving, I’d probably only need to fully charge it once or twice a month.
The MG ZS EV Long Range makes for a tantalising prospect with its recent $5k price reduction. At that price, it undercuts its main rival – the BYD Atto 3 Extended (with a claimed 420km range) – by $2500.
Personal preference will determine your decision between the two. But if you want to stick in the MG camp, it boils down to this – for an extra $6000 over the MG ZS EV Essence, you get an increase of nearly 40% in range. If you’ll use the car regularly for longer trips, it’s worth the extra cost. But if you only ever potter around town, pocket the $6k and get the cheaper version.
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