MG ZS EV 2021 essence

Can an EV work for your family?

I’ve reached the three-month mark into my 2021 MG ZS EV long-term loan, and I’ve come to appreciate the MG as the quietest member of my household.

For this review, I’ve chosen to delve into the ZS EV’s family-friendly credentials, given we are nearly halfway through another school term – sigh – the MG has become well accustomed to requirements of the daily run.

To recap – the car on test is the single-spec, MG ZS EV priced from $43,990 drive-away and powered by a 105kW/353Nm electric motor that drives the front wheels only. With a 44.5kWh battery, the MG delivers a WLTP-certified driving range of up to 263km.

Okay, that’s the numbers out of the way, on to how the MG has held up under the labours of parentage.

RELATED: Long-term report one: Introduction

While operating as my transport for the younger members of the Bullis family – who are used to a much bigger Mazda CX-9 to spread their effects in – the MG ZS EV is surprisingly comfortable and spacious enough to fit us and a lot of our gear.

As coronavirus restrictions remain on parents not being allowed into school grounds, ‘kiss and drop’ has become the norm for us in the MG. So too the run to soccer training, soccer games on the weekends, and out to the kart track for my seven-year-old son’s races.

Okay, let’s go back to some numbers for a moment of the ‘range’ kind.

Charging the MG overnight, just like I do my phone, fills the electric tank to full, offering up 232km on the digital display (without accounting for the gains from regenerative braking).

Daily, I do the school drop-off, which is a 9.4km journey, then on to the CarAdvice office in North Sydney, adding another 28km to my commute.

On the way home, I do the same route in reverse, which leaves me with approximately 150km in reserve when I pull in my driveway. Add on to and from soccer once or twice a week, another 20km per trip. Worst-case scenario, when I get home, I have just under 100km left.

When getting out of the car, I plug it in and leave it on until we head to school in the morning. This leads me to say I have found a full charge is more than enough to get through my daily driving in the MG. And if your family life is similar, I would guess it will be ample enough for you too.

2021 MG ZS EV
Engine Electric
Power and torque 105kW / 353Nm
Transmission Single-speed automatic
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Kerb weight 1502kg
Boot volume 359L / 1187L
Turning circle 11.2m
Length/width/height 4314mm/1809mm/1644mm
ANCAP safety rating 4 stars for standard ZS, but ZS EV currently unrated
Warranty 5 years / unlimited km (battery is 8 years / 160,000km)
Motor count Single
Battery size 44.5kWh
Driving range 263km (WLTP)
Charging time 80 per cent capacity in 40 mins on a 50kW fast-charger
Tow rating braked, unbraked Unrated
Main competitors Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq

Now, back to the family hauling.

The boot, measuring 359L, gets a workout. I was impressed with how much it can handle, taking shopping bags, school satchels and soccer kits quite easily. Remove the parcel shelf and there is more to play with, but for my everyday needs, I left it in. Until it had a malfunction recently, where the clips allowing it to lift up with the boot door snapped off, leaving it permanently flat, so I had to remove it to make access easier. The clips can be easily replaced, but you will have to order them online.

With the rear seats folded, the volume expands to 1187L, with a 60:40 split making fitting longer items in, but still accommodating passengers, doable. The seats don’t lie completely flat when folded, mind you, so that might rule out carrying items that don’t have some give in them.

There is a tyre repair kit under the false floor, along with storage for the charger, where you could squeeze in some smaller items if you don’t want them rolling around. Deep side pockets next to the wheel arches are handy additions, with netting to stop them going anywhere. I found this useful for a bottle of wine after a long week of child-wrangling.

The second row is able to fit child restraints in – ISOFIX and tether points on offer here – with two adults up front, and with enough headroom for my son, now in his higher seating position. The middle seat is uncomfortable and would only be good for a child on shorter trips, but the whole back row feels spacious thanks to the light pouring in from the panoramic sunroof.

When my six-foot-six husband sat in the front seat, it of course impacted the amount of leg room on offer behind him. But it didn’t bother my youngest, who still had enough to and from his soccer game.

There are no air vents in the second row, but I found the four large vents up front enough to cool the cabin sufficiently considering there is a glass roof to contend with. On a recent 28-degree day, my son asked for the air-con to be turned down, proving it does the trick, and the sunroof does have a cover to keep out the sun’s rays and associated heat.

I’m nit-picking, but if I could change the climate controls to display an actual temperature rather than a colour gauge – turning from blue to red – I would. As it displays on the infotainment screen, I’m not sure why MG didn’t choose the numbers option. It works well enough, but it’s just a personal preference that makes life easier.

Second-row storage is plentiful, with door bins large enough to hold bottles and map pockets on the backs of both first-row chairs. There’s no centre armrest, which is a shame, as I think this is an expected and welcome addition for families at this pricepoint.

There’s one USB port in the back – better than nothing – located in the back of the first-row centre armrest. A small storage area is below it, where you might store your phone upright when charging, but I wasn’t game enough to try, as it would likely eject itself upon the first sign of any uneven surface.

Two more USB points live up front under the centre console, with extra storage for your phone or small items, and a 12V outlet too.

An important point for me with the MG ZS EV is the interior not only presents nicely, but held up under rough family usage as well. After shoes scuffing leather seats, half a soccer field being dragged through it, and sweaty (and always curiously sticky) boys occupying its confines, a quick whip around with the vacuum and a damp cloth rapidly removes any signs they were there at all.

Up front, I was concerned the piano-black surrounds would show signs of wear quickly, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either.

The wide range of safety features are all working as they should so far. I particularly like the speed assistance system, as the acceleration of the MG is near enough effortless thanks to the electric motor that you don’t realise how quickly you reach 60km/h. A quick ding from the system keeps you in check, which can be adjusted to the speed of your choosing.

So far, I have spent most of my daily driving in ‘Eco’ mode, which is the highest setting for regenerative braking. The MG defaults back to ‘Normal’ every time you turn it on, which I think should be the Eco setting – to make full use of the technology on offer here – but one touch of the mode button switches it to my preferred driving mode.

While I wouldn’t recommend the MG ZS EV if you have three children, requiring restraints and seat space due to the smaller middle seat, it worked well for our young family and performed better than I expected. There’s enough room on the inside for your daily needs. And while you need to charge it instead of visiting a bowser, it has more than enough for my daily running around without incessantly watching the kilometre readout – I promise.

But what happens if I do need to charge while out and about for a longer trip? I’m glad you asked – stay tuned.

MORE: Long-term report one: Introduction

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