As the all-electric motoring revolution gathers pace, Laila Ali – long-time Motability customer and a key member of the popular Facebook group ‘Motability Advice & Special Offers’ – recently borrowed a new MG ZS EV from Chorley MG for the weekend to try and find out whether she’d be able to live with an electric vehicle (EV) long term. Here, Laila tells us how she got on when she swapped the combustion engine in her diesel-powered VW Tiguan for the electric-powered MG ZS EV.
I'd never really considered myself the sort of person who would choose an all-electric Motability car. The whole idea of charging up every night and worrying about whether I’ll have enough charge to get where I’m going has never particularly appealed to me, but when I was offered the chance to drive a MG ZS EV for the weekend I thought I’d give EV motoring a chance.
After picking up the car from Chorley MG on Friday my first trip was back towards home via the motorway. The MG ZS EV handled as well as any other SUV I’ve driven. In fact, I quickly forgot that the car I was driving was electric.
First stop was the school run. All the kids quickly jumped in making it a full house. With all 5 seats occupied (including one with a booster seat in place) it still felt roomy and comfortable inside (the panoramic sunroof may have had something to do with this). Thankfully my youngest son - who often struggles with change and confined spaces - absolutely loved it, and really enjoyed trying to work out how to use all the impressive tech.
The car was surprisingly quiet as we drove home. No noise, no weird humming from the battery, nothing. The performance was great, as quick off the start line than any petrol or diesel car I’ve driven and the steering was lovely and light, very different to my VW Tiguan. I was impressed.
On Saturday it rained. Lots and lots of British rain, so we didn’t go out, but it did give me time to find out a bit more about the car and to try out some of the gadgets and gizmos.
The model I was given was the top-spec Exclusive model (currently £299 Motability Advance Payment). The entry-level MG ZS EV Excite is pretty well spec’d, but the Exclusive trim gets a few extras including heated leather seats, a 6-way adjustable electric drivers’ seat, rear parking camera, rain sensitive wipers and that impressive panoramic ‘Sky’ roof that I discover can be opened.
There’s also a smart 8-inch colour touchscreen in both trims that links up with Apple Car Play and Android Auto for seamless integration with your smartphone plus DAB digital radio, keyless entry, push button start and satellite navigation. You can even stream a movie straight onto the screen - great if you’re out and about and need something to do while you’re topping up the battery. And because it’s an EV, the Excite and Exclusive both come with automatic transmission as standard (great for keeping my stress levels down whenever I encounter stop-start traffic around town).
On Sunday we all took a trip out to Brockholes, a lovely nature reserve near to where I live. I managed to take a few pictures and fiddle around with all the buttons again. On the way back I gently spun the MG round the streets of Preston and not once did our neglected road surfaces cause any pain or distress to my back. The seats are all very comfy, and I think the high set driving position will suit many Motability customers.
The boot is pretty big as well. There are 470 litres of space with the rear seats up, which rises to 1375 when you fold them down. Wheelchair users will be interested to learn that I did manage to fit mine into the boot (see pictures).
On Monday, it was time to try out that charger before dropping it back to the dealership. Nail biting moment! Will I need to call the dealer for help?
Powered by a 44.5kWh battery, the MG has a claimed driving range of up to 163 miles from a single charge (on the new WLTP combined cycle). Most people with a driveway will charge up overnight, which would take the MG ZS EV around seven hours (if the battery was almost flat) using a standard 7kW home charger. Since June 2020, Motability customers who order a new EV have been offered a ‘no-cost charging solution’, which includes the option of a fitted home charging point at no extra cost (installed by BP Pulse).
I discovered that the charging port was mounted centrally in the front grill (which made accessing it easy from either side of the car) and slipped the big old charger straight on it first time, boosting the juice for an hour and a half. After that, I got back behind the wheel for the final time and made the short journey to Chorley MG, returning the ZS EV back safely into the care of their wonderful Motability Specialist Miles Roberts.
So, could I live with one? Well, I’m pleased to report that the MG ZS EV surprised me. Most Motability customers will find the range more than adequate for the vast majority of their journeys.
I loved my time with the MG ZS EV, and the simple fact that a complimentary charging solution is now included with every Motability-leased EV must surely mean that many more motorists like me who want to cut down on the environmental impact of their driving (while saving a few quid on fuel at the same time) will have to take a closer look at the growing range of electric Motability vehicles when it’s time to choose their new Motability Scheme car.