MG, now Chinese-owned, has made quite a splash since resurfacing in Australia a few years back. The company's ZS compact SUV range comprises three models: the Excite, Excite Plus and Essence.
Beginning with the $22,990 drive away entry model Excite, you get the following standard kit:
- 17-inch Alloy wheels
- Eight-inch infotainment screen
- Cruise control
- Air conditioning
- Leather-bound steering wheel
- Rear view camera
- Rear parking sensors
- Central locking
A palette of six colours is available for the MG ZS Excite and Excite Plus, with seven offered in the Essence. Metallic-finish hues will cost you an extra $500.
All MG ZS models have as standard, six airbags, anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist, active cornering braking, hill launch assist, stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, child seat anchor points in the rear and auto activation of the hazard lights under emergency braking. They also score rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera
Infotainment, comfort and convenience
In-car entertainment is provided by means of a 3D six-speaker audio system that is also operable from the steering wheel. All functions are displayed on an eight-inch infotainment screen that mirrors Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto.
However, if you want satellite navigation you will have to move up to the top-rung Essence model that also comes with the convenience of push-button start/stop.
Other convenience items like door stowage bins, front cupholders, seat back pockets and front seat reading lights are standard across the range. All variants are equipped with synthetic leather trim on the seats and doors, plus a premium trimmed gear shift knob lending the MG ZS quite an upmarket appearance.
Do you want auto headlights? As they come standard on the entry model Excite you can save your pennies. The MG ZS Excite also gives you LED day running lights, intermittent wipers at each end and 3D-effect tail lamps.
Is a sunroof written on your wish list? Then you have to buy the Essence model, but it does include a sunshade.
What about the security of a cargo cover? Every model has it, as well as a boot light.
Outside it's almost impossible to pick the three variants apart, as all have body coloured exterior mirrors and door handles, a rear spoiler, roof rails and chrome trim around the windows. Wheel arch mouldings are standard across the range, along with 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels. Fog lights front and back are also standard. The giveaway is the previously mentioned sunroof on the Essence.
Here is where there's differentiation.
The ZS Excite and Excite Plus are powered by a 1.5-litre direct-injection four-cylinder engine producing 84kW and 150Nm. Matched to the engine is a four-speed automatic gearbox.
The Essence comes with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine, pumping 82kW and 160Nm of torque through a six-speed automatic.
MG ZS pricing
Drive away prices are:
MG ZS Excite Automatic – $22,990
MG ZS Excite Plus Automatic – $24,990
MG ZS Essence Automatic – $26,490
Verdict on ZS
Looking at all three variants, prices and the features you get, along with the engine and transmission options available, the entry-level ZS Excite is too hard to go past. I am not a sunroof fan and satnav can be driven through the Apple CarPlay, so why pay more?