IF YOU want proof that an electric SUV can be practical, stylish, enjoyable to drive and affordable then you should take a look at the MG ZS EV.
On-the-road prices start at £27,495 and all models are very well equipped – but even the top spec Trophy Connect Long Range variant I was driving only costs £33,995.
And that alone gives the Chinese-owned brand’s family-sized SUV a significant advantage over many of its rivals.
But added to that, the test model has an average range of 273 miles and the 72.6kWh battery can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in just over an hour using a 50kW rapid charger.
A 7kW domestic wall box will fully rejuice the MG in 10 and a half hours, and it is also possible to use a standard three-pin socket if you wish.
In common with other electric cars, the 156PS motor’s performance is also pretty nifty. Hitting 60mph takes just 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 108mph is more than adequate.
Adding to the driver engagement are a choice of three performance modes – eco, normal and sport – and three levels of regenerative braking.
These are easily toggled through using switches in the lower half of center console next to the rotary gear selector and electronic brake and auto hold buttons.
Adjusting the set-up to your preferences allows you to cruise and conserve energy or else enjoy a slightly sharper performance and almost one-pedal operation.
I felt the car displayed plenty of stability on the twisting, hilly, country roads that I frequently travel along south of Glasgow.
The ZS provided good grip around corners, with little wallow, and yet the suspension was unruffled by some pretty weather-ravaged surfaces.
I also enjoyed the ambience of the spacious cabin – there is good room for four adults or a family of five and the boot space ranges from a useful 470 to 1100 liters with the rear seats folded.
Highlights in the Trophy Connect include a panoramic sunroof and leather-style upholstery with contrasting red stitching, as well as heated front seats.
I also admired the sporty-looking, carbon-fibre-effect patterning to sections of the soft-touch upholstery that adorned both the seating and the door cards, as well as chrome-effect detailing around the interior.
The infotainment set-up is also comprehensive and impressive, with a 10.1in touchscreen providing access to a range of features and a six-speaker 3D sound system.
As well as full smartphone integration, there’s a wireless charger, DAB radio, rear parking sensors and 360-degree parking camera, and sat nav. The package also includes an iSmart app that provides vehicle information and wi-fi as well as live services for weather, traffic and Amazon music.
Another hi-tech asset is the informative digital driver’s display that is easy to read through the perforated leather steering wheel.
Life is also made easier by the likes of keyless entry and start, auto LED lights (including high beam) and wipers, automatic air con and adaptive cruise control.
The MG Pilot suite will also enable safe travels, starting with active emergency braking that includes pedestrian and bicycle detection.
Then there is traffic jam assist, blind spot detection with lane change assist, lane keep assist, intelligent speed limiter and rear cross traffic alert.
The exterior is just as smart, with classic, bold SUV styling and subtle EV touches – such as the integrated front grille that includes a discrete charging port.
I liked the car’s sturdy stance, dramatic creases, bold light clusters, 17in propeller-design alloy wheels and clever use of brightwork all around – including the silver roof rails.
And one final enticement… MG is so confident about the quality of its machines that the ZS EV comes with a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.