Not all that long ago, the MG ZS EV was the cheapest electric vehicle in Australia, but in 2024, those days are over, with more competition for the compact SUV, including from within its own brand.

There’s no denying the MG4 and BYD Dolphin are engaged in a race downwards for the title of Australia’s cheapest EV – a space clouded by the GWM Ora – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For the one-time-benchmark, MG has added a long range offering that’s still available at a pretty damn decent price. With a drive away price of $55,436 – it’s fair to say you get a lot for your money, including soft leather seats with contrasting red stitching.

The driver’s pew has 6-way electric adjustment, and the cockpit abounds with a reasonable proportion of soft touch materials. Venturing past where one’s hand will naturally fall, such as the door handles or the arm rest, reveals hard scratchy plastics.

Ergonomics leave a little to be desired too, with the seat base up front, simply too flat. Unlike the MG4, which boasted a very comfortable cabin for the driver, the ZS EV never really gelled with us.

Ahead of the driver sits a 7.0-inch “virtual cluster”, or screen, behind a leather wrapped steering wheel with a range of easy-to-use buttons for the basics. It does miss out on the get in and drive setup found in the MG4 though, with a more traditional start button.

That aside, there’s a simple but elegant 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dash. Like the other MG’s, this controls most in-car functions. Also like them, it was buggy at times and on a couple of occasions froze completely.

Given the heat around Sydney at the time, we were thankful air conditioning fan controls were available via manual buttons. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available and provide musical entertainment through 6-speakers. Outputs are reasonable quality.

Charging duties are handled by three ports up front and two for rear occupants. Front seat occupants can also access a wireless charger at the bottom of the centre stack. Two adults can comfortably ride in the rear, with enough leg room to not feel closed in.

There’s a reclining 60:40 folding seat. Storage is plentiful throughout the cabin and the boot space offers 359-litres with the seats up and a cavernous 1,187-litres when folded flat.

We do feel a lack of storage under the bonnet was a missed opportunity – there’s a tonne of wasted space there. Occupants will enjoy the enormous “stargazer” sunroof once the shade is drawn back.

It really adds a sense of freshness and space to the cabin and is a real highlight. Exterior aesthetics are not bad either. It does have a certain Manga feel with a podgy body on in-set 17-inch wheels, but looks fun, fresh and modern.

That’s especially so in the Brighton Blue Metallic shade ours was draped in. Back inside, a rotary dial lets you switch to D and a touch of the accelerator had us quietly on our way.

For us, it was important to contextualise the ZS when we first got it, given we’d gotten out of the MG4 XPower. This is no powerhouse, nor is it dynamic or exciting, but it is comfortable, with soft suspension that does an admirable job of soaking up bumps.

The 130kW electric motor pushes 280Nm of twist through the front wheels. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but at times it will cause complaint from the 215/55/17 MAXXIS rubber on its way to a claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 8.2 seconds.

All-in-all, it’s a very easy thing to hop in and drive as a daily. The Essence Long Range has a 72.6kwh battery and boasts a claimed range of 440km. We did find that it eats this up quicker than we would’ve imagined.

Interestingly, it also felt as if it was hungrier for power than the MG4, which we found perplexing given the twin motor setup in the latter. We don’t have stats on this though, it’s just a general feeling.

We did appreciate the charging port that is offset on the front grille, which made accessing power easier. We didn’t test it, but the same port (with optional adaptors) allows you to power various items using Vehicle to Load technology.

While you’re pottering around town you will be safe in the MG ZS EV too. Thanks to their Pilot drive safety technology, you score blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, active emergency braking, and traffic jam assist.

These are supplemented by a host of airbags and ABS. If you can get over the ergonomic issues, the MG ZS EV is a very easy, spacious, feature-packed car. With a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty and a sharp price tag, it’s worth checking out.

Our test vehicle was provided by MG Motor Australia for review purposes.

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