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MG began production of sports cars in the 1920s and found fame on both road and track, the Midget becoming one of the most desirable cars of its time.

I can be numbered amongst the many who had desires on the little sports model, but I just did not have enough pennies in the pot so I had to settle for a very basic pre-owned Mini 850. MG has had a few owners, in 1935 it was sold to Morris Motors Ltd, merging with Austin in 1952, 1967 saw it part of BMC and by the year 2000 it was part of the MG Rover Group which went into receivership five years later. Like a phoenix however, the brand arose and production started in China in 2007 with a very different type of MG.

In this part of the world, 2011 saw the first new MG in some 16 years. Recently I had the opportunity to spend a week with a current model the ZS, a compact SUV which held a few surprises for me- especially in terms of sheer value. Yes you do get exceptional value for money, as this model comes with most of the extras as standard. For example an eight inch touch sensitive infotainment screen supported by DAB radio (on the Exclusive and Excite models), while Bluetooth hands-free and remote central locking is available across the range. Cruise control is also included, while air conditioning comes as standard on Excite and Exclusive models, and sat nav and a rear camera are standard on the Exclusive variant, the version I tested. Apple CarPlay is available on Excite and Exclusive models at no extra cost.

More and more, it is important for a car to have a strong face and the ZS showcases the future design direction for MG with a distinctive grille, increased MG branding and a delicate nose gives the car a refined look that is carried through to its sweeping corners and solid back end. A quality finish has been at the heart of MG’s design philosophy, with every surface, material and fitting selected for its visual impact, as well as durability and longevity.

Colour choice includes standard Arctic White, metallic options, Laser Blue, Black Pearl, Cosmic Silver and Spiced Orange, as well as a specially-developed tri coat Dynamic Red paint option. Headlights are also a key design feature, with a massive twenty three LEDs creating a design statement in each one and day/dusk sensors, even on the entry-level Explore model, which came as something of a surprise. I found the ZS to be roomy and practical, 448 litres of boot capacity (some 60 litres larger than the typical competitor), plus a split-level boot which provides plenty of room for luggage, outdoor leisure equipment or the weekly trip to the shop.

To the heart of the matter, the power units and there is a choice, a 1.5 DOHC VTI-tech, four-cylinder engine with smooth and responsive five-speed manual gearbox, or a 1.0 GDI turbocharged, three cylinder version of the engine which complements the six-speed automatic gearbox option. I had the one litre engine with the automatic transmission and no complaints in this department. Performance is not startling but adequate with rest to 100kph in just under eleven seconds.

A strong selling point for the ZS is the full seven year warranty which is completely transferable to any new owner before the 7 year/80,000-mile limit is reached; the highly competitive package also guarantees any genuine replacement MG parts for the remainder of the agreement. Like the MG3 and MG GS, the ZS also comes with the option of a six-year anti-perforation warranty covering against. Summing up a very honest set of wheels with acceptable comfort levels, ride, handling and a badge with heritage.
Ian Lynas


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