New ZS for the ‘young at heart’

|     Lyna Mohamad     |

INDIVIDUALITY, charisma and creativity: These are characteristics associated with vehicles manufactured under the iconic badge of British automaker MG.

With nearly 100 years of proud engineering history behind its belt, it isn’t a surprise the marque is showing these traits in its cars again after years wallowing in the doldrums.

Its legend restored to a semblance of its past lustre after being bought over by China-based automotive firm SAIC, the brand is making a bit of a comeback of late, re-establishing itself in the UK market and causing a few ripples elsewhere with a fresh line-up of hip-looking new cars.

Among these is the new ZS compact SUV, the model in the spearhead of this revival. Philanthropically priced in the AUD20,000 – 24,000 range and showcasing MG’s future design direction, the ZS is a whole lot of car for your money.

The car, marketed towards younger drivers, certainly gives off a premium vibe from the outside, with its front, rear and overall profile taking after those of its Japanese, Korean and European counterparts.

The exterior of ZS gives off a premium vibe
The interior has a good amount of plush-looking, soft-touch materials throughout the cabin
The engine of the new ZS
ZS’ London Eye headlights

Its London Eye headlights, signature ‘Star Rider’ front grille and slick body lines are notable head-turners.

The interior is a similar story, and a significant improvement on other older models by the brand. There is a good amount of plush-looking, soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, especially on the upper portion of the dashboard.

All these pretty flourishes however, would count for little if the car is not enjoyable to ride or drive in.

In this regard, the ZS’ designers have done a good job. Sitting in the car, you a get a feeling of wanting to linger and be taken on a long road trip, its comfortable seats welcoming and setting you up for the journey ahead.

Head, shoulder and legroom is also ample, even for six-footers – individuals of this persuasion will not feel like Peter Crouch squeezing into a Mini when riding in the ZS.

The vehicle’s generous 48-litre boot space meanwhile is another reminder designers have created the car to accommodate five adults and sundry other little ones comfortably.

Entry-level Explore models come with manually adjustable front seats, cruise control, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Upgrade to the Excite trim (the car comes in three trims: Explore, Excite and the range-topping Exclusive) and the car is equipped with Apple CarPlay on the standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, heated wing mirrors, front fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels, while the Exclusive comes packaged with rear parking sensors, leatherette upholstery and rear view camera.

As for performance, the ZS will speak to the hearts of Bruneians and, due to it being tuned for UK roads, will fit right at home on the country’s thoroughfares.

The car, powered by two petrol engines – the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged unit and 1.5-litre four-cylinder – and with its decent chassis, handles corners remarkably well, an observation made more marked at high speeds.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise really, considering the marque’s sports car heritage.

Aided by the vehicle’s ESP, there’s decent body control and not too much roll when attacking bends, while the steering is light and direct.

Potholes and uneven sections of road meanwhile are taken care of by the car’s able suspension.

Three steering modes are offered as standard in the ZS: Urban, Normal and Dynamic. These provide varying levels of power steering assistance for different road conditions, but generally speaking, ‘Normal’ does the trick for all.

To sum up, the car is a great addition to the crossover market, and has something for everyone. If you’re looking for a stylish, practical everyday vehicle for personal use or for lugging your family around that doesn’t bust your bank account, the ZS is for you – even if you’re a bit on the “older” side.