The MG ZS is an inexpensive small family SUV with a spacious interior and a large, practical boot – but it doesn’t have much modern safety technology and there’s no diesel option
If you’re looking for a small family SUV that’s practical, affordable and reasonably well-equipped, the MG ZS is well worth considering.
Okay, it might not feel quite as upmarket as the likes of the Mazda CX-3 but it’s significantly cheaper to buy and much roomier inside. The standard fabric seats come with enough adjustment to get comfortable and the buttons you’ll regularly use are easy to reach and laid out in a logical, uncluttered fashion.
Sadly, the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system you get in all but entry-level Explore models is less easy to use. Sure, its main menu comes with plenty of large, colourful buttons but delve into its more detailed settings and everything becomes a confusing sea of hard-to-read blue and black icons.
Thankfully, you get Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard on all but entry-level Explore models so you can use your phone’s media streaming and navigation apps through the car’s built-in screen instead.
The back seats don’t get so many nice touches. Although you’ll find there’s much more headroom and leg room than in a Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3 or Nissan Juke they don’t have any cupholders and there’s no centre-rear armrest.
The 448-litre boot’s roomy too – it’s more than 90 litres larger than the Mazda, Renault and Nissan, and more than big enough to carry a large baby buggy and some big soft bags at once. Flip the back seats down and there’s just enough space to carry a bike with its wheels attached.
You can think of the ZS as supermarket own-brand cereal – it might not be as tasty as the big-name alternatives but it’s much cheaper and still keeps you full til lunchtime
You can get the ZS with two petrol engines. Pick the 1.0-litre turbo petrol if you spend lots of time driving around town or the 1.5-litre petrol model if you do lots of motorway miles. Both are relatively quiet – if not particularly quick – and will return around 35mpg in normal conditions compared to MG’s claimed 44.9mpg and 49.6mpg respectively.
Whichever engine you pick, the ZS is easy to drive thanks to its adjustable steering that provides extra assistance at slow speeds. Unfortunately, the view out the back isn’t great, which can make squeezing into tight parking spaces a bit tricky – but at least Excite models and above come with rear parking sensors as standard.
You even get cruise control on all models to help make long drives a bit more relaxing. Unfortunately, the ZS is quite noisy at motorway speeds and you’ll hear quite a bit more wind and tyre noise than in the likes of the Mazda, and it isn’t as comfortable over bumpy roads as the Citroen C3 Aircross.
Unlike these alternatives, the MG doesn’t come with the option of automatic emergency braking to help stop the car quickly if it senses an obstacle ahead. As a result, it might not score quite so highly when it’s crash tested by Euro NCAP.
If this isn’t a dealbreaker for you, the MG ZS makes a strong case for itself as an affordable, yet spacious, small family car. Avoid the rather spartan entry-level models and it’s an SUV that’s well worth considering.