These are my thoughts after driving from Sydney to the Western suburbs of Melbourne return, in a MG ZS EV 2022 Excite model small electric SUV electric car, on 23rd and 24th December 2022 with an overnight stop over in Albury. The car contained 2 adults and a full boot.
I compared this with my ZS EV Long Range test drive impressions … Which is better for an average non technical driver?
I did the Sydney to Melbourne trip during the Christmas Holidays to see what driving an EV is like during the busiest time of year for that highway route and for the public electric car chargers along it.
Speaking of which, if you’re going to drive that route in a non-Tesla electric car then you’ll find these guides useful:
- Electric Car Fast DC Chargers I’ve used between Sydney and Albury: Detailed Guide with Photos
- Electric Car Fast DC Chargers I’ve used between Albury & Melbourne: Detailed Guide with Photos
Disclosure: The car was loaned by MG Australia for 2 weeks so I could do a thorough review. All charging was organised and paid for by me with my accounts at Evie, Chargefox etc.
Intro to the ZS EV 2022
Just briefly to give an overview of it’s capabilities the 2022 MG ZS EV features a exterior makeover, complemented by new battery technology that delivers a WLTP driving range of 320km, up 57km from the 263km range sported by the Mk 1 2021 model.
There are two versions of the 2022 MG ZS EV but both have the same range. Excite is the base model and Essence is the slightly more expensive model that also includes a better sound system, folding electric mirrors, some more safety features, a sunroof, wireless phone charger as well as heating for front seats and electric adjustable seat just for the driver.
Advertised charging capability is up to 80kW DC at public fast chargers (up to 80% charge in 54 minutes) or 11kW AC.
The ZS EV features a central 10.1″ landscape format colour touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. You can also monitor real time stats with an upgraded 7″ digital instrument cluster, directly in your field of vision for quick adjustments on the road.
The ZS EV 2022 has a free companion MG iSmart app running on Amazon’s AWS which allows owners to see charging progress, remotely control AC and door locking as well as other features.
Other smart features include MG Pilot driving aids such as Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Emergency Braking and Intelligent High Beam Assist.
A revised solid front fascia improves aerodynamics while retaining the front-mounted charging port. LED lights feature front and back.
The new ZS EV comes with a 7-year, unlimited kilometre battery warranty to complement MG’s 7-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Range Anxiety vs Charger Anxiety
Total charging cost for the trip from Sydney to Melbourne was $45.04 after starting from home at 89% battery capacity. Unfortunately I don’t have off street parking so I couldn’t start the trip at 100% charged from my home solar system.
During the trip:
- all standalone NRMA branded chargers were free for everyone (that will change in late 2023),
- BP Marulan South was a free temporary promotion for everyone as the charger had just opened a few days before
- Western Sydney University Campbelltown charger was free and available to the public, it is now restricted to staff & students
We stopped to charge often because our first 2 charger stops were delay & stress causing with app/RFID acceptance issues & waiting for chargers to be fixed by electricians. The four brands of charging network we used were Evie, NRMA, Chargefox & BP Pulse.
Australian ZS EV owners should use the 50kW cheaper EVIE and Chargefox chargers because the car will refill at a pretty constant ~ 50kW until almost 80% full. Don’t spend 50% more money on the 350kW chargers unless they’re the only ones available.
The ZS EV Standard Range promises a WLTP range of 320km but most non technical people buying an EV won’t realise that WLTP measures the range of a car travelling at an average speed of 46.5km/hr in mild summer temperatures from a 100% to 0% state of charge.
So non technical people would expect the advertised 320km range everywhere city and highway but that isn’t the reality. In the city sure the ZS EV Excite can travel 320km easily, likely even further 350km+ if the average speed is 40-50km/hr in traffic.
Realistically however the Highway range in a ZS EV Excite for your average Australian driver with lots of luggage, aircon on, casually speeding at 115km/hr is more like 220 km from full to flat.
This would catch some people out running their battery flat flat before they reached the next charger.
Note: I am not encouraging speeding. On highways I drive in the left lane at the speed limit on cruise control and watch the majority of other cars pass me at least 5 to 10 km above limit.
Long distance driving tips from 2 MG ZS EV owners
“Agreed re range out of town. Just had three weeks in a ZS in Victoria and spent approx half total travel time finding charge/charging etc”.
“Definitely better as a city car; but not insurmountable long range issues (esp for those without small children to entertain at charge stops, for eg!!)”
“Will improve once regional charging options improve (including location and speed of charge stops, and whether the ones that are there are actually functioning)”
“For people without impatient kids (or impatient partners) it will be a non stressful roadtrip option once there are more highway chargers and they actually work reliably”.
“I’ve done the Sydney to Melbourne trip twice in a Mark 1 ZS EV (actually second time was Melb – Newcastle return)”.
“The second trip at Easter this year was harder due to lack of infrastructure combined with more EVs on the road. The mk2 has a slightly better range which will help a lot.”
“PlugShare is your friend, make sure you check in advance if the chargers are working as there are a lot out of action.”
“If you have a positive attitude and no drop dead deadline , then easy peasy, if you leave everything to last minute and expect 100% of the time chargers will be free, etc , then your weekend will be spoiled.”
“110 kph sucks the battery, cruising at 100 in the slow lane on the Hume at the same pace as trucks means you won’t hold anyone up and travel at a pace with some economy.”
“Taking time to enjoy the road trip and you’ll be rewarded … if you want the fastest time point to point, then there are many other options.”
Should you buy the MG ZS EV 2022 Excite model?
The ZS EV 2022 Excite is Australia’s cheapest electric car and a great city car but has a weakness of relatively short highway speed range.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for the majority of Aussies to drive any road trip longer than Sydney to Canberra. That’s because the average Australian long road trip driver goes above the 110/km highway limit, with AC on and their car is heavily laden with family members, luggage in the boot and or roof racks.
On the other hand Aussies with certain attributes can successfully do longer road trips with the MG ZS EV. I know because I met them at various charging stops along my journey and they’d done tens of thousands of km in both the 2021 and 2022 model ZS EV.
In one case a 2021 model owner had done over 50,000km in his 2021 model ZS EV, commuting 120km return each day for work as well as going on road trips to visit friends between Southern Highlands and Sydney.
This is what it takes to drive the ZS EV long distances such as 500-1000km or more:
- Be patient, well planned and accept that it will require a fair bit more total time and charging stops compared to a longer range EV.
- Researching ahead regularly checking the apps for charging networks (Evie, Chargefox etc) as well as Plugshare and A Better Route Planner to decide where to charge, with backups if your chosen location is broken.
- Willing to sometimes drive at 95-100km/hr to stretch out the car range between charging stations that are far apart.
Introducing the MG ZS EV 2023 Essence Long Range
In early June 2023 I got to borrow and drive the newly launched in Australia MG ZS EV 2023 Essence Long Range which promises a WLTP range of 440km and efficiency of 17.7kWh per 100km.
Interestingly the specs show that this long range Essence version (1620kg) with a 72.6kW battery is almost the same weight as the standard range Essence (1610kg) and Excite (1570kg) which have a 51.1kW battery.
That’s because the long range Essence version has an energy dense Lithium NMC battery whereas the standard range Essence and Excite have less dense Lithium LFP batteries.
The improvements from the base model Excite to the more luxury Essence (standard range and long range) variants of the MG ZS EV are:
- Front seat heating – driver and passenger
- Panoramic Glass Sunroof with Sunshade and Anti-Trap
- Electrically folding, heated, body colour door mirrors
- Rain sensing wipers
- 6 speaker audio with 3D sound effect
- Blind spot detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Roof Rails
- Wireless phone charger
- Synthetic Leather Seats
- Driver 6 way electrically adjustable seat
In my test drive from Inner West Sydney uphill almost 500m to Mount Keira Summit and back again the car achieved slightly better than that, 16.65kWh per 100km in Eco mode one way and Sport mode back.
A careful driver using Eco mode in this Long Range version might achieve 400-440km on highways and I would recommend it as suitable for an average Australian family to drive long distances like Sydney to Melbourne without having to charge as often.
Overall the MG ZS EV Long Range is not the most exciting EV but it is very practical, has a long range battery that removes range anxiety during long journeys and a generous 7 year warranty.
There’s also a long list of inclusions such as intelligent LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, roof rails, iSmart app for remote control, V2L, 360 camera, Sat Nav, Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
However if you don’t need an SUV the MG4 hatchback available soon, has versions that promise either a similar range as the MG ZS EV Long Range for less money, or more range for similar money.