MG ZST Review

The ZST is the latest affordable offering from MG.

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The MG brand continues to surge in popularity within Australia by making advanced safety features affordable to consumers Down Under. The company's largest success has been the MG3, but with the launch of the HS and ZS range, there are now options for people searching for great value in other, larger segments, too.

Upping the ante even further late last year, MG announced the arrival of the electric offshoot of the ZS range, the MG ZS EV. That line aims to make electric vehicles attainable for everyone by becoming the cheapest electric car in Australia.

This vehicle pictured above, in “Pebble Black”, is called the ZST, and it is a completely new model in the ZS line-up. It starts at $28,490 plus on-road costs for the entry-level “Excite” variant and climbs to $31,490 plus on-road costs for the range-topping “Essence”.

We got behind the wheel of the MG ZST Excite to find out if, in a sea of small SUV options, the MG is worth your dollars.

What’s it like inside?

There is a lot to like about the interior of this ZST Excite at first glance. 

Between the layout and vegan leather trim throughout (with highlights of red stitching), it does look a bit more premium than perhaps the price suggests. A combination of hard and soft plastic touchpoints is used throughout the cabin and stretching across the dash is a sporty, carbon fibre(ish) looking insert which the 10.1-inch touchscreen sits atop of.

The screen comes loaded with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation, and it is your go-to when controlling virtually everything in the car. This includes not only air conditioning, but also turning on/off and controlling settings to do with the safety tech. Surprisingly, there is no DAB+ radio, but the whole system is linked to a six-speaker sound system.

With dash-cams becoming more popular in Australia to combat road rage, help contest insurance claims and frankly, my favourite reason, make some cracker YouTube videos, a USB point sits up near the rear-view mirror, allowing you to power the device without a cable running down the windscreen.

Behind the faux-leather, flat-bottom steering wheel is a large digital instrument cluster, which, in conjunction with the steering wheel controls and a separate stalk, lets you access MG Pilot safety technology. We’ll talk more about that later.

The driver's seat in the ZST Excite is manually-adjustable with both front seats being heated. Steering adjustment is limited to tilt-only with no reach adjustment available, but it wasn’t difficult to find a comfortable driving position.

Despite not having the panoramic sunroof of the Essence, the cabin is well illuminated, with customisable ambient lighting throughout that you can control through the infotainment system.

In the back, there is a decent amount of room for passengers. Behind my own driving position, I found that I had a comfortable amount of knee room.

The back row, like the front, gets two USB charging points, but unlike those lucky passengers in the front, they don’t have vents for the air conditioning.

Storage space in the doors is good for a small water bottle, and you will need to have a bottle too as there are no cup holders in the back.

MG ZST boot size

Cargo space measures in at 359L, which is comparable with other vehicles in the segment. Underneath the floor, you will find a space-saving spare tyre.

What’s it like to drive?

The new ZST has only one engine option, unlike the outgoing ZS model. 

It is a 1.3-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that produces 115kW of power and 230Nm of torque. That's about the middle of the road among competitors that typically range from 110 to 130Kw, if you look at the Mitsubishi ASX and Kia Seltos respectively.

It has been paired to a six-speed automatic, which sends power to the front wheels. The transmission does a good job, but can be caught out at times. Couple that with a hint of turbo lag and that can create some sketchy moments when entering a thoroughfare.

Overall though, the MG ZST is surprisingly punchy and gets decent mileage too, with MG claiming 7.1L per 100km.

On different surfaces the suspension can be quite active, but for the daily city commute, you aren't going to notice this all too much. The same can be said for the bit of body roll that occurs when cornering. All told, I can’t see many reasons why the ZST wouldn’t help build on MG’s success.

Steering is direct, but it does lack a bit of feedback; however, it manoeuvres quite well with grippy Michelin tyres that come as standard.

As standard, the MG ZST is kitted out with blind-spot monitors, reversing cameras (even a 360-degree camera) and sensors, making it easily parkable and user-friendly in narrow streets and tight parking lots.

Autonomous cruise control also resides in the MG Pilot safety suite allowing you to eat up kilometres of highway driving with minimal throttle or brake inputs, with the sensors in the ZST maintaining a safe distance to the vehicle in front.

Further technology like lane-keep assist aims to keep you from wandering from your lane with a gentle steering assistant, but it isn’t the most accurate system we have tested in terms of keeping to the centre of the lane markings. It seemed more like we were slowly bouncing between them.

It is a strong safety offering for the price though.

How safe is the MG ZST

MG is quite proud of their MG Pilot system, which comes standard across the range of vehicles – even entry-level models. As standard, the MG Pilot protects you with the following:

  • Autonomous emergency braking:
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Intelligent speed-limit assist
  • Intelligent headlight control
  • Traffic jam assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Door opening warning

Six airbags are fitted throughout the cabin, and there are two ISOFIX mounting points for the outboard seats in the back row.

Warranty and servicing costs

MG provides a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the ZST. Along with the impressive warranty, roadside assistance is offered for the full seven years too, should you happen to get stuck.

Servicing is due every 12 months or 10,000kms, whichever comes first.

The verdict

In the MG ZST, you get an attractively styled, safe, small SUV that doesn’t break the bank nor skimp on technology. It may not be the most satisfying vehicle to drive, but if you are only going to be driving around the city or suburbia, the ZST looks to be some serious value.

If you are searching for a vehicle for regular, longer commutes, you may want to look at some competitors like the Mazda CX-3 or Kia Seltos before making a decision.

Want to read more car reviews? Check out our car reviews section, or, if you already know what you are after, it might be worth looking for the best car loan and best car insurance options to see how much you could save.

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