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British icon MG enters SUV sector

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When I were a lad MGs and Rovers were a common sight on Scotland’s roads.

Then, in 2005, MG Rover collapsed, bringing the curtain down on a long British motoring tale.

A Chinese firm bought up the MG brand though, and left it headquartered in the UK. Over the last decade it’s been slowly expanding its line up of cars.

The latest is its first entry into one of the most popular and packed car sectors. The MG ZS is a compact SUV that goes up against rivals such as the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona.

Taking on such talented and established mainstream players is a big ask, but the ZS steals a march with a bargain basement price tag.

The entry level Explore model costs just £12,495, which pitches it more than £2,000 below the cheapest Nissan Juke.

The ZS I spent a week with sat at the other end of the scale – the range topping Exclusive model – and even that only weighs in at £15,495.

It’s front wheel drive only, but almost no one buys this kind of car for off roading so that’s fine. There’s also no diesel option, but the compass is swinging back towards petrol anyway.

There are two petrol engines, a 1.5 litre with 105bhp or a three-cylinder 1.0 litre turbocharged unit with 109bhp.

Having two engines of very different sizes but very similar power outputs is somewhat confusing. Essentially cheaper versions come with the 1.5 and a five-speed manual gearbox while higher end models have the more modern 1.0 litre engine mated to a six-speed automatic.

Most buyers are expected to go for the top spec Exclusive model I drove, which comes with a large touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, sat nav, a rear camera and leather-effect trim.

The ZS is roomier than a Mazda CX-3 or Nissan Juke, particularly when it comes to rear passenger space. The boot is bigger too.

It’s not all good news though. Refinement isn’t on par with it’s best rivals, and if you’re expecting a car with the MG badge to handle like a sports car prepare for disappointment. The gear changes on my automatic model could be a bit clunky as well.

While the 0-62mph time might not set the heather alight the 1.0 litre engine is a zesty unit that returns around 45mpg.

It may not be as good as its best rivals but a spacious interior, sharp looks and a price tag a couple of grand lower than its rivals all ensure MG will find buyers for the ZS.


Price:

£17,495

0-62mph:

12.4 seconds

Top speed:

112mph

Economy:

44.8mpg

CO2 emissions:

144g/km

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