Much ink being used all over the world to discuss whether the MG ZS cross-over is a “real” MG or not. I can fix that. Quite simply, it is just another small SUV wearing an iconic badge in the center of the grille.

For people such as myself, the MG ZS is not an “MG”. Forget all the tommy-twaddle of shared DNA. Human beings have DNA passed down through generations. Cars do not.

MG enthusiasts such as myself have problems calling the new line-up of MG’s from SAIC and CP anything even vaguely resembling an MG. As to my own bona fides, I present the fact that I have owned several MG’s from T-Types to the last MGB which I raced for the factory. The name MG had a certain mystique about it, and even though they were not particularly fast, the owners were always well represented at club level motoring events. MG made sporting motor cars.

The engine and transmission of this offering from SAIC and CP Group is a 1.0 liter Netblue turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, producing 82 kW of power at 5200 rpm and 160 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,700rpm.

One tester wrote that these outputs translate to lack-luster performance. Stick the boot in and progression is less than rapid. Off-the-line pace is reasonable, but the powertrain runs out of puff at speeds above 60 km/h. It is also one noisy unit, requiring plenty of revs to get going, particularly given that peak power doesn’t come on steam until near the redline.

The slogan of the MG Car Company was Safety Fast. The ZS may be safe, but it certainly isn’t fast.

Lots of goodies if you are actively looking for two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows and side mirrors, roof rails, chrome trim, dusk-sensing halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, front and rear foglights, 3D-effect tail-lights and a space-saver spare wheel.

All the usual electronic gizmo’s with a six-speaker Yamaha 3D sound system, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay support, manual air-conditioning, a monochrome digital instrument cluster, a leather steering wheel, synthetic Knight Black leather upholstery with contrast stitching and satin-chrome trim feature.

Specifications are 4,314 mm long, 1,809 mm wide, 1,644 mm tall with a 2,585 mm wheelbase, making it larger than several of its competitors but then you are left with the wheezy underpowered engine trying to get some performance to drag 1,245 kg around by the front wheels.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the ZS a four-star safety rating in December 2017. A result of 10.46 out of 16 in the frontal offset crash test at 64 km/h meant the MG was ineligible for the maximum five stars.

However, safety features in the MG do extend to six airbags, anti-skid brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, hill start assist, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring. Nothing breathtaking in all that lot.

Is it really an MG? Not if looked at in the historical overall scheme of things, and quite frankly should not be compared to the memory of the MG TC. I believe it would be better to just call it an SAIC and be done with it.

Rivals (not all available in Thailand).

Mazda CX-3 Maxx FWD: One of the more stylish offerings in this segment, the CX-3 does not put a premium on safety. However, its smaller dimensions mean the second row is cramped and boot space is lacking.

Mitsubishi ASX LS FWD: It might be getting long in the tooth, but the ASX continues to sell like hotcakes. Value and practicality remain strong points, but a noisy powertrain and stiff ride hurt matters.

Nissan Qashqai ST FWD: A runaway success for the Japanese brand, the Qashqai is still on top of its game. A premium interior, oodles of safety kit and sharp steering are countered by a gutless engine and frustrating CVT.

  • Peter Smith

    Was told the engine is a 1.5 lump for Thailand ?

  • Robert

    I was never a race car driver, just a man who has driven 1.5 million North American miles over a 30 year period in all weather and topography conditions ranging from sea level to mountain and desert to tropical swamp. As usual with reviewers you failed to mention that the car being reviewed is by far the least expensive and if the Chinese own the name they can by god use it. Further the only important consideration is how the vehicle drives at 90 kmph which is the surface street speed limit in Thailand and it is unimportant how quickly that speed is obtained. Then also important is how well it highway cruises at 120 kmph and the attendant roll factors and stability for the tiny percentage of time people actually are on a highway in most cases. The reviewer failed to mention that the admirable level of safety equipment on the MG would have been considered best in the world ten years ago (this model totally designed by MG UK) which is still certainly surpassed by the other vehicles mentioned (who gives a damn about cars unavailable in Thailand? Why mention them?) Consider that the other cars are up to twice the cost per vehicle to the consumer if available in Thailand. When I discovered this car was a three cylinder vehicle it was the death knell for me. Not because of “power and acceleration” but because of the balance, noise and vibration issues surrounding such an engine. Because of what weight it is asked to haul it’s fuel consumption is greater, but the cost to buy being less it has a place for soccer moms. Spending a year of research making a car purchase in Thailand is easy to do because the English reviews are for cars in those countries. They are seldom identical in Thailand even if manufactured here due to the taxation of larger engines. Small engines are our future and it is a fact across almost all vehicles sold in Thailand that the engine is smaller than it is elsewhere. (Nissan, Toyota, Honda) Reviewers cry about slow acceleration AND less than the best gasoline consumption in “fast” cars. Let’s concentrate on safety, comfort, ease of maintenance, ease of driving and parking a car. It does not have to leave you breathless, but be grateful if it insures you are still breathing.