A new electric SUV from China prompts memories of a famous marque for Campbell Spray
Last weekend driving down Chesterfield Avenue to the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre we
passed a MG Midget, the small, much sought after British sports car of the 1960s and 70s that was almost a twin of the Austin-Healey Sprite.
It really quite excited me (like most people I don’t get out much these days!) but my wife and the dogs were far more interested in the deer that had strayed very close to the road. I don’t think any of them appreciated me boring on about the classic little car for the next minute or so.
Spotting the Midget would have been good on any day, it was particularly potent then; we were also in a MG — not that the driver of the low two-door car would spot any of his car’s gene pool in our light blue fully-electric SUV other than both were sporting the badge of what had been Morris Garages.
However it is a long and winding road from MG’s origins in Oxford under William Morris and Cecil Kimble in the 1920s to Ningde, in East China where many of the present electric MG cars are now made.
Since 2005 the marque has been fully owned by a Chinese company. While there are still certain design and marketing elements retained in the UK, what was an iconic British marque is no more and the concentration is on making bargain-price SUVs in China and Thailand for both export and the very important home market.
Since about two years after the takeover of the MG Rover group in 2005, cars bearing the MG logo have been sold with a certain limited success in Britain and elsewhere but production is now ramping up with a big concentration on EVs and plug-in hybrids and that’s why Frank Keane Motors have now started to import them over here just as his Mitsubshi franchise exits the Irish market.
So that takes us to the MG ZS EV saluting its very, very distant cousin on Chesterfield Avenue.
It’s a family-sized SUV with looks that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mazda, Hyundai or Kia line up. There’s good space throughout and the boot is especially big for an EV. I was looking forward to testing it as the pricing is very competitive after grants and VRT relief; €29,845 for the Excite version on the road, and €32,845 for the well-specced Exclusive model which was o test.
The power comes from a 44.5 kWh lithium-ion battery which will take you to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds. The battery size is one of the reasons the starting price is nearly eight to 10k cheaper than the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro, while their 60kWh unit will give ranges of up to 450km, the average for the MG will be around 200 ( although the company points to a WLTP combined cycle of 263kms) which puts it on par with models like the Honda-e, Electric Mini, Mazda MX 30 and even entry level versions of the Nissan Leaf.
The MG marque is growing in popularity in the UK again with many very loyal owners. This is mainly because it is a good value package but heavy depreciation might occur when more EVs arrive with bigger batteries.
However there is a class-leading seven-year warranty. There was a lot of safety equipment on board the Exclusive version whose five-star rating is a great improvement on earlier non-EV MGs.
Some of the refinement of a Mazda, Peugeot, Hyundai or Kia might be missing from the car’s cabin however there are also elements that would not look out of place in premium level models. But I and other testers have reported some computer malfunctions which are reportedly being fixed.
It is a pleasant drive, never really dynamic and maybe a bit bouncy, so that in the high winds of last week I took it very handy. It’s pleasant to look at and four sturdy adults would be very content to be accommodated even with the panoramic roof of the test car.
By clever driving and using the highest level of regenerative braking you can extend the range as well as basically using just the one pedal. I rather liked the car, although it couldn’t be further from memories of driving the Midget and the MGB, its more sassy big sister. For me the range seriously counts against it, but for many it’s a fine way to get into family-sized fully electric motoring.
Talking of range, plug-in hybrid versions of a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class with an electric range of around 100 kilometres are on the way after the latest version launches here in September.
It’s now three decades since the original introduction of the C-Class – as successor to the old 190 model. There have now been just under 11 million units sold worldwide of the car which is viewed as the entry model to the luxury segment.
The new C-Class will now have some features seen in the new S and E Class including the latest generation MBUX infotainment system, optional rear-axle steering and the comprehensive electrification that powers its various elements.
Longer and wider, saloon and estate models are considerably larger than before. A 25 mm longer wheelbase increases comfort for front and rear passengers.
Five petrol and three diesels are available at launch, all with four-cylinder, turbo charged engines and 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. In Ireland, models most likely to appeal to owners are C 180 and C 200 d.
Prices will be announced closer to its arrival date in September.
Comparing it to its predecessor, Ciaran Allen, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, said: “in all but name, the new C-Class is pure S-Class in so many respects.
“Coming immediately behind the flagship model, it raises the bar beyond what owners might have expected from a first-tier offering in the luxury segment.”
The Mazda MX-30 EV which is now on sale here with prices starting at €30,495 has arrived with an early collection of accolades. Last December, the Mazda MX-30 was named Favourite Electric Car in the 2021 DrivingElectric.com Awards in the UK.
Further afield, Mazda MX-30 was named DesignCar of the Year, a newly established award in the 2020-2021 Car of the Year Japan awards.
It was good to see that the motoring world has hit back at further restrictions. The Grangorman complex of the Technological University Dublin prides itself on being very bike and pedestrian friendly.
However this sign near one of its newly built quads suggests a different policy - No Unautorised Entry.