Reader Q&A – Australian MG ZS EV Long Range Essence 2023 (Compact SUV)

Last week I had an MG ZS EV Essence 2023 Long Range on media loan for review.

I received a lot of questions about this electric compact SUV and I have tried to answer as many as I can in this article.

Paul asks – can it do regen braking on cruise control (original ZS EV could not)?

Sorry Paul but the answer is No same as the standard range ZS EV models. When I turned cruise control on and went down hills there was no battery regeneration displayed on the driver information cluster.

Matthew asked – I’m going to be a massive nerd here but the car can clearly do 440km WLTP. I’m not sure the point specifically of testing that, but I assume you mean “what range can it do in Australian conditions?”. And by “Australian conditions” I mean whatever you’re going to do the testing in.

Ben asked a related question – can you drive it at 110 kmh one way on the highway to find out what it’s highway range is, then 100 kmh on the return, without stopping to recharge (coffee and doughnut is acceptable), so that we know what the real world full highway range is?

My answer to both is my range test was to drive this EV from Inner West Sydney to Wollongong and back. At whatever the speed limit was for each stretch of road and using cruise control wherever possible.

It’s a similar test that I’ve done for other EV’s. At almost 60K price this car shouldn’t require buyers to drive 10km below the limit to extend range.

The result was as follows below and shows that the route you are travelling on and the altitude difference between beginning and end has a big impact on how much battery gets used.

Even though I used Eco mode for the journey there and switched to Sport mode for the journey home the car used much less energy returning because it was going from an elevation of 470m to 9m above sea level.

  • Eco mode. Used 20% battery. Marrickville to Mount Keira Lookout. 78km, 9m > 470m above sea level.
  • Sport mode. Used 15% battery. Mount Keira Lookout to Marrickville. 75km, 470m > 9m above sea level.

Jesse asked – Is there any difference in the functions available in the iSMART app? For example, can you set max charge to 80% given it’s NMC.

Yes Jesse you can set the maximum charge percentage level in the MG ZS EV Long Range using your finger on the touchscreen menu and in the MG iSmart app as I’ve demonstrated below and tested by setting a limit of 90% and seeing if the car stopped charging at this limit.

Luke asked – Are they running the same software builds as the standard range? Eg is it a point upgrade (that come with bug fixes), rather than a whole new version. Are there any noticeable acceleration or handling differences with the long range.

Obviously too, if the software was optimised for the different battery chemistry that would be if interest. I don’t know how the software is set up for the long range, or if it allows/encourages you, for example to charge the battery to 100%. If you can only regularly charge to 80%, with 100% reserved for occasional use, then it would only be marginally better than a standard range charged to 100% every week.

Apart from being able to set the charge limit, as shown in the photos below the software seems exactly the same as standard range ZS EV Essence.

Rhys asked – any noticeable difference in performance from the MK2 standard range ? Ie motor a bit less Spritely.

Shaun asked – Does the larger battery come through in handling compared to the standard. I suspect may be slightly even more planted so to speak. Or may not feel the difference at all.

The Maximum Power in this long range version is 115kW, which is reduced from the standard range versions that have 130kW. Maximum Torque is the same for all 3 versions at 280 Nm and the 0-100km time is almost the same. TLDR it’s not a noticeable difference.

Craig asks – Engine spec the same as the Gen 2? Front rear weight distribution? Weight of battery pack vs Gen 2 50.5 kWh? Any structural differences to deal with that weight difference? Driving impressions vs Gen 2 50.5 kWh.

Jolene asked – Other than the battery size, are there any noticeable differences to the Mk 2 essence? Is there a back seat light?

From the exterior it’s hard to tell this ZS EV Essence 440km WLTP long range version is any different from the ZS EV Essence 2022 320 km WLTP range version. I couldn’t see any interior differences, there is no back seat light.

That’s because the only big obvious exterior difference is the long range version has privacy glass for the rear window.

The only other external difference I noticed was the 17″ Maxxis M3 tires. From memory the MG ZS EV Excite standard range base model I drove from Sydney to Melbourne and back last Christmas had 17″ Michelin Primacy 3ST tires.

So far during my dry weather drives of the new long range model the change in tires hasn’t resulted in any deterioration in the driving experience.

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.

Jason asked – Has reliability of Android Auto connection and handover between Bluetooth audio sources been improved? Can you set default drive mode (eg always start on economy)? What is the rapid charge battery speed limit – still 50kwh or higher)? What is the tyre brand that it comes with?

Android Auto and Bluetooth was reliable every time with my Oppo phone.

All cars tend to have occasional quirks with Android Auto/Carplay, USB cable and bluetooth phone connectivity as there are so many possible combinations of these.

Unfortunately no the car resets to NORMAL each time it turns on. It does remember the preferred regen level eg: 3.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test DC charging as there are very few of these in my Inner West Council area and they weren’t available at the time I planned to test them.

17″ Maxxis M3 tires. From memory the MG ZS EV Excite standard range base model I drove from Sydney to Melbourne and back last Christmas had 17″ Michelin Primacy 3ST tires.

Tim asked – Is it comfy.

I answered – mostly Yes, I drove my family Sydney to Melbourne and back in the standard range version of the ZS EV car last Christmas. The only essential comfort item I’d point out as lacking is the inability to adjust steering wheel for reach.

Ash asked – How is the interior/materials/build-quality?

I answered relative to what? it’s not a car for people who want leather seats and luxury. Wear and tear over time I can’t judge in one week. The materials don’t look like they’ll fall apart quickly.

Reiner asked about boot space

Please have a look at my boot luggage and shopping storage test results for the ZS EV Essence Long Range.

Patrick asked – Whilst checking the cruise control, could you see if the indicator still cancels out the radar function and accelerates you into the car in front when merging at the end of an overtaking lane. Can catch you off guard that one. I would imagine they havent changed any of that though.

I didn’t find any dangerous behaviour by the cruise control during my testing. It is true that the MG cruise control isn’t as refined as some more expensive EV’s.

Robyn asked – Have they fixed the cruise control so it maintains a set speed going down hill? Also V2L experience?

Adam asks – is the V2L adaptor included? AFAIK it’s not.

Unfortunately the cruise control still overshoots target speed slightly while going downhill.

All Australian 2022 and 2023 versions of the ZS EV support reverse charging with a V2L adaptor but unfortunately one isn’t included with the car by MG which I think is a mistake for a car that costs well over 50K.

Tony asked – is the OBC (onboard charger) for AC and DC charging rate, the same as the standard range?

For AC Charging yes the limit is 11kW 3 phase same as the standard range ZS EV models.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test DC charging as there are very few of these in my Inner West Council area and they weren’t available at the time I planned to test them.

Chris asked – Does it have a functioning AM radio?

Sorry Chris as show below you only get broadcast FM and DAB+ radio, same as the standard range ZS EV models.

David asked – How many times does the infotainment system crash?

None during my week of driving.

David – can you ask MG how owners of the ZS EV are meant to determine if we have the latest software updates on our cars? I’m not planning on going to the dealership for another 18,000 km. If there is a software update to improve efficiency, I’d love to get it.

You’d have to ask your dealer if there are any software updates available for your particular model. Unfortunately the ZS EV and MG4 sold in Australia in 2023 and earlier don’t support over the air updates via a SIM card. Hopefully this changes for future models but it can’t be changed in existing models.

Camille – Is the range estimate as accurate as in the Mark 1 (which is incredibly good – you can drive reliably to the edge of the range)?

I haven’t driven the Mark 1 ZS EV. I’d say the range estimate is consistent with the 2022 ZS EV Excite I drove last Christmas for 2000km. It’s OK but not as good as say a Hyundai or Kia EV which is more accurate with range estimate.

Rohit – is the camera better quality?

The 360 camera is the same quality, not high but still fine and I found it very useful for shopping mall and street side parking during the day and in the dark at night.


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