Range anxiety and limited charging networks are some of the questions that arise in a potential electric vehicle customer’s mind. No doubt, the government, private players and automobile manufacturers are working overtime to build and increase the charging station network, but sadly there’s a dearth of affordable four-wheeler EVs making it out of the reach of the common mass. In a recent statement, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari said that he expects the cost of the electric scooter, cars and auto-rickshaws to be at par with petrol vehicles in two years. With grants from the ministry and indigenously made batteries, the dream of owning an EV could become a reality for many.
Automotive manufacturers from their end are also introducing new technology to solve range anxiety issues and MG Motor has done just that by launching the updated 2022 ZS EV, which is now powered by a bigger 50.3 kWh battery replacing the 44.5 kWh. According to MG, the new EV delivers a range of 461 km, 121 km more than the previous edition. It also comes with the usual design tweaks and new features. Priced from Rs 22 lakh to Rs 26 lakh, ex-showroom, the ZS EV will squarely go against the Hyundai Kona Electric, which is also expected to get a facelift soon. We get behind the wheel and find out whether the ZS EV is a practical option?
Watch Video | 2022 MG ZS EV Review:
The 2022 ZS EV is based on the Astor and therefore it borrows a lot of its style elements. Even though it doesn’t get the bold front fascia chrome splash like the Astor, it gets the same all-LED chiselled looking Hawkeye headlamps. Unlike the previous-gen EV, the MG front logo doesn’t double up as the charging port flap rather it’s located on the right side of the nose grille. Like all EVs, the front mesh is closed while the bumper gets bigger air dams, which adds some character to it. To add a dash of sophistication and luxury, the ZS EV’s front fender’s lower lip comes garnished with metal finished lines.
The silhouette, on the other hand, remains identical to the Astor. MG hasn’t gone all miserly with the tyres as the ZS EV comes with 17-inch alloy wheels with a new Tomahawk design. The rear layout is uncluttered with hawk-eye inspired sleek-looking LED tail lamps. The MG logo here doubles up as a boot lever, something that we are used to seeing on Volkswagen cars.
Plush and spacious
The EV is sturdily built and when you shut the door, it resonates a strong thud sound which speaks a lot about its heft. The cabin gets plenty of leather finishing touches on the dashboard, steering wheel, armrest, centre console and upholstery with contrasting red switching. The dashboard gets a faux carbon fibre panel, which compliments the composition. It also boasts plenty of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and on the door panels. The brand new all-digital 7-inch LCD driver’s console replaces the analogue instrument cluster and spruces up the interiors further.
The new 10.1-inch infotainment system is easy to navigate and has connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though we would have preferred the wireless feature option. It does get a wireless phone charger and various USB, Type-C and 12 Volt ports. The centre console houses a metal polished rotary dial and three buttons for multiple driving modes, Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) settings, which a Formula 1 fan will be familiar with but we will get into its functionality a bit later and information on the battery.
MG may have decided not to skip the Advanced Driver Assistance System, but the ZS EV doesn’t compromise on safety as it’s equipped with Rear Drive Assist features like Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert along with six airbags, a 360-degree camera, hill descent control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and electronic stability control. When it comes to connected features, MG has been one of the pioneers in this field in India and the facelift EV comes with over 75 connected features including starting the car without stepping inside the cabin, controlling the panoramic sunroof, geo-fencing etc.
The cabin, not only, feels upmarket, but it also offers plenty of space for passengers in the rear. Apart from acres of knee and leg space, the panoramic roof doesn’t eat into the headroom, even if you’re 6 feet in height. With the floor virtually flat, the middle passenger can sit leisurely and all three seats get headrests. The rear bench’s backrest is slightly reclined providing that additional comfort to your back. Understanding all about providing a comfortable seating position, the fronts are supportive thanks to the prominent side bolsters, which in turn negates any lateral movement.
With enhanced power comes a superior range
Come what may, numbers don’t lie and the 2022 ZS EV comes packed with a bigger 50.3 kWh battery replacing the 44.5 kWh one. This means it now boasts a 173.5 bhp, packing 32.8 ponies than the previous model and at the same time, the range has shot up to an impressive 461km on a single charge. Of course, the range figures are claimed by MG, but even if it offers around 360-380 km in real-world conditions, it would be quite impressive. So, how long will it take to juice up the battery? If you opt for the standard 7.5 kW charger then it will take 8.5 to 9 hours to 100% charge up the battery, but via 50 kW DC fast charge, it can be powered up to 80% of its capacity in an hour.
With a permanent magnet synchronous motor, the power delivery is instant in the ZSEV. Now with the additional power, it feels more eager and is quite a breeze to drive in city limits. The steering wheel is on the lighter side and makes it convenient to weave through stop-start traffic. In case, the weight of the steering is not your cup of tea then you can increase its heft by changing the driving modes. Eco, as expected, is the mile muncher mode, where the ZS EV tries to squeeze out the maximum range it can, while Normal is the middle path where it balances both power and range and the Sport kicks up the dynamics level by a couple of notches.
It can spring a surprise on you as the initial response does manage to push you back into the seat. As there is no lag, it feels a lot faster and zooms past the three-digit speed figures without a whimper. Like the previous edition, the 2022 ZS EV comes with KERS, which helps recharge the battery with the energy produced when you step off the accelerator pedal or decelerate. It also comes in three settings with the first mode allowing the car to slow down in a linear fashion while in the third mode the EV rapidly reduces its pace to ensure the battery receives the additional charge.
The ZS EV handles fairly well as the body roll isn’t overwhelming. It remains planted on the straights and doesn’t meander off while taking turns. It carpets shallow ruts and ditches effortlessly, but when it encounters deep potholes, one needs to slow down as the thud can be felt, especially by the rear passengers. Otherwise for daily urban conditions, it’s quite apt and comfortable.
The MG ZS EV is available in two trims — Excite at Rs 22 lakh and Exclusive at Rs 26 lakh. It is a well-built EV with plenty of cabin space and plush interiors. It’s fully loaded with comfort, convenience and safety features. With a new and powerful battery, the ZS EV promises more grunt but more importantly a higher range. With a 5-year warranty for unlimited kilometres, 8 years or 1.5 lakh kilometres warranty on the battery, 24×7 roadside assistance for 5 years, and 5 labour-free services, the ZS EV does look like a good proposition to consider if you want to drive in greener pastures.
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