Parkers overall rating: 2.8 out of 5 2.8
  • Just two petrol engines on offer
  • Both offer unremarkable performance
  • One engine is auto’ only, the other manual only

If you’re often bamboozled by the number of different engines and power outputs available in new cars, then the MG ZS will provide a welcome change. See, there’s just the two engines on offer (both petrol) and whichever one you go for will be largely dependent on your gearbox preference.

MG ZS SUV petrol engines

The entry-level 106hp 1.5-litre DOHC VTI-tech engine produces 141Nm of torque and accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds, on to a top speed of 109mph. While it’s fairly happy to be revved, there’s little in the way of pulling power especially when cruising at motorway speeds.

Therefore, we’d recommend opting for the 111hp 1.0-litre T GDi turbocharged motor, capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 12.4 seconds and going on to reach a top speed of 112mph. Torque is rated at 160Nm. It may be slower on paper than the 1.5-litre, but the T GDi engines deploys its power more convincingly and has an extra chunk of torque that is useful on motorways.

MG ZS gearbox options

However, before you take our advice and go running into showrooms seeking out the 1.0-litre T GDi engine, it’s worth bearing in mind the gearbox options.

The 1.5-litre is only available with a five-speed manual transmission, while the 1.0-litre is limited to a six-speed automatic. So, if you have a manual-only licence or would rather avoid an automatic transmission, your mind is effectively made up for you.

That said, both gearboxes are perfectly good in their own right. The five-speed manual provides a relatively slick, easy-to-use gearchange while the six-speed automatic is more than adequate. 

  • Quick steering, decent levels of grip
  • Three steering modes on most models
  • Parking aids on top-spec model are worth having

Quick-steering, but lots of body roll in the corners

Initial impressions of the ZS’s handling are promising, thanks to surprisingly quick steering and three switchable drive modes (Urban, Normal and Dynamic) – standard on Excite and Exclusive models. Grip levels are what you’d expect for a car in this class, too, with the front of the ZS gradually pushing wide if you carry too much speed into a bend.

It’s not a fun car to drive down a twisty lane but it does feel reasonably sure-footed, something which will likely be of greater importance to a large proportion of potential buyers.

On the downside, there’s lots of body roll (where the body of the vehicle leans while the car is cornering) and the steering is devoid of any feel no matter which mode you put it in. That said, Dynamic mode brings about excessive amounts of artificial weighting in the steering, meaning Urban and Normal are the best settings. 

Parking aids are a must

Excite models come as standard with rear parking sensors, while Exclusive versions add to this with a reversing camera. If you’re not a particularly confident parker or regularly have to slot your car into a tight spot, we’d recommend taking all the parking aids the ZS can offer.

 

That’s because, despite the ZS fitting into the compact crossover class, it’s still a large car and one with a sizeable blindspot around the C pillar. Sure, there’s a small window back there but it doesn’t stop the ZS’s rear panels from being able to obscure two fully grown adults in the blindspot.