MG ZS Exclusive 1.0 Auto: Gentle Storm

Previously on MotorMartin, MG ZS 1.5 Excite: Understand My Heart. YouTube looked at the impressive and all-new 1.5 Manual ZS, a car that is becoming more and more prevalent on the highways and byways of this green and pleasant land of ours. The time then seemed right to try out the 1.0 Auto ZS to see what a difference the drop in capacity and change in gearbox would make an SUV that has already become somewhat of a MotorMartin favourite.

Figures first then. The 1.0T GDI turbocharged power plant is a rather clever 3 cylinder turbocharged (of course) unit that, perhaps surprisingly, produces 5 more bhp than the normally aspirated 1.5 Manual at 800rpm lower with 109bhp @ 5200rpm. A more than healthy number and one which should allay any fears regarding choosing the 1.0 over the 1.5, there’s also the added benefit of an increase in torque from 104 to 118 ft/lb between 1800-4700rpm. Good news all round.

And on the move, it has to be said that this 3 cylinder engine is an absolute breath with power just where you need it and allowing the ZS to be even better suited to our roads than before. Now over here at MotorMartin we do enjoy the thrill of matching gears to road conditions and stirring an engine using a sweet manual ‘box but when you have an auto as smooth as this, with gears that slot almost imperceptibly into place, then you get the opportunity to experience a completely different thrill, that of allowing your focus to be on the drive itself and the sensations delivered.

The gearbox itself gives you 6 speeds over the manual’s 5 and perhaps more importantly, reduces the revs when cruising along A roads or motorways bringing about a benefit in mpg as well. A combined consumption of 44.9mpg, emissions of 144g/km and the Exclusive edition on test coming in at just £17,795 mean that this is an SUV that will not break the bank and that’s before you get to the 7 year/80,000 mile warranty as well. There must be a downside surely?

Other brands may save money by using a previous generation of technology but that’s certainly not the case with this all-new MG ZS. There’s the new signature grille for starters with it’s chrome touches and bold, yet traditional chrome octagonal MG badge, signature swept back headlights with their strikingly designed daytime LEDs, front fogs and superb looking 17” Diamond Cut alloy wheels. In fact, ignore the ZS’s price point and the attention to detail suggests a much more premium brand especially when you take in the design as a whole. A high waistline and sweeping rear wheel arches give a muscular appearance that’s bang on the money whilst the rear of the car provides more visual treats, especially the contemporary light clusters and again, that instantly recognisable octagonal badge, a badge that is also the boot release.

There’s plenty of bold colour choices with which to choose from but in MotorMartin’s opinion, you’ve got to go for the ‘Dynamic Red’ a colour that MG say, has been developed using a special coating technology that allows them to achieve a deep and translucent finish with just three layers of paint creating a colour that is hard-wearing – and also achieves enhanced brilliance and beautiful depth. Now I don’t know about all of that but in the flesh it looks absolutely superb. This is a great looking car across any price point.

But let’s approach the elephant in the room and poke it most strongly. The question that has raised it’s head on more than one occasion is that of lineage with cries of that’s not a real MG etc.’ Being directed firmly towards Longbridge, especially since assembly was stopped at the plant. Well, the iconic British MG brand can trace its history back to 1924 and is world famous for making stylish cars that are fun to drive and own and yet are sold at remarkably affordable prices. Modern MGs, which are designed and engineered in Longbridge, Birmingham, easily continue this long and rich MG tradition after all, checkout the current ZS, 3 or GS and checkout the stylish exteriors before stepping in and going for a drive. And then look back over the years and see that the same argument was displayed against the MGB, the MGF, MGTF and the MG Z cars all of which are accepted amongst nearly all MG owners. In fact the last word must surely go to the MG Car Club who use the SAIC editions on there own adverts for the club.

So there you are, the ZS is most definitely a real MG.

And it can drive like one if you want it too. Everyday motoring is as simple as you need it to be especially when you consider that the ZS has three different steering modes to choose from. There’s Urban Tuned which MG say is to improve the manoeuvrability whilst parking and at low vehicle speed conditions leading to lighter steering effort in parking conditions and easier steering application at lower speed. Then we have Normal Tuned for everyday driving and to enjoy the MG experience as it offers a more connected steering character that allows the driver to feel the road. Finally, there’s Dynamic Tuned meaning increased steering effort at medium and higher speeds and is designed for drivers who enjoy higher dampening and steering effort at higher speeds. With each steering mode offering such distinctive characteristics you really can tune the ZS to your own personal preferences depending on the road and conditions that your drive is set to offer up.

With the smooth automatic ‘box taking care of the oily bits below and steering set how you want it, you really are left to enjoy the drive and where it may take you. With the gearbox moved across into Sport the gears are held a little longer allowing the engine to remain planted into the optimum rev range for progress to be made which is a very good way of spending your time. The steering offers a secure feel so that changes in direction are a merely a flick away and mix that with suspension that’s specifically tuned for our roads by the clever engineers back in Birmingham, you’ve a SUV that remembers it has Sports in the title.

I’ll leave the final words to MG Motors UK who say the following about their innovative MG ZS: The MG ZS is forward-thinking motoring at its best – and the latest step in the iconic MG story.

And you can’t say fairer than that.

Where will you go?

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