related to a Dacia Duster? The pros and cons

MG: the increase in power

MG… yes that means something to me, isn’t it a TV brand? If “Morris Garage”, the full name of the English label, is not on everyone’s lips yet, it is still slowly making a hole in the PAF, in other words the French Automotive Landscape. By the end of November 2022, the manufacturer will have sold more than 10,000 cars in France and its network, which will soon pass the bar of 150 distributors, will no longer be Lilliputian. To continue this momentum, MG, which came under the control of the Chinese group SAIC in 2007 and has returned to Europe since 2019, is particularly counting on electric cars with its convincing MG4 (which you can see test here) and the SUV ZS that recently became a rival to the Dacia Duster. But are we benefiting from it?

For the MG ZS, everything changed in 2022

The MG ZS is not new to the MG range. He also has it, but in 100% electric, that the brand made a big comeback in Europe in 2019. The frontal attack of Duster, this SUV was recently launched during its restyling in the spring of 2022. In addition to a revised and less “Mazda-ien” design or the adoption on board of more a lot of qualitative materials and a central touch screen that is bigger (10.1 inches against 8 before), especially under the hood the situation has changed.

If you don’t look too hard, the interior of the MG ZS makes a good impression.© MG

Now also available here with internal combustion engines, the MG ZS is available from €17,990., a price worthy of… Dacia. But like the Duster, which is sold mainly at the top of the range, the ZS is also popular with customers in the high version, replacing the main atmospheric 1.5 (106 hp) for a three-cylinder turbo 111 hp from General Motors here on trial. Hyper equipped and on sale for €20,990, which is very competitive, is this ZS enough to make the Romanian star hesitate?

Pros: a more attractive shape and better equipped MG

Style, we grant you, is a matter of subjectivity. In fact, we’ll let you split your points between the MG ZS and the Dacia Duster. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the Sino-English SUV makes a better impression than its Romanian rival when the door is opened. Having soft materials, red stitching and a headrest stamped with the brand’s logo imitation leather upholstery that is a beautiful illusion, we are far from cheap stereotypes which is, apart from the hard materials, also quite well erased in the Dacia Duster. However, you should not be too careful with the MG ZS because some assemblies and plastics betray the will of economy. The equipment of the ZS, which is rich in the Luxury version, also helps to make a good impression. Sunroof, hands-free key, driver’s seat with electrical adjustment on the driver’s side, nothing missing, including a 7-inch digital screen that replaces the needle meter provided as standard.

Pros: its seven-year warranty

A new manufacturer, which is Chinese, can arouse distrust. In fact, even if it is now unreasonable for many products such as smartphones in particular, “Made in China” still suffers from a priori. To lift them, MG can rely on its distribution network which is no small and in another argument stolen from Kia. In fact, the MG ZS is guaranteed for 7 years or 150,000 km compared to 3 years/100,000 km for the Dacia Duster. True, by reading the contract in detail, this “super parachute” is accompanied by many conditions that must be strictly followed, especially on the maintenance side, but this is the case everywhere.

For: meritorious service

Far from being the best SUV on the market for reasons we’ll detail below, the MG ZS wasn’t always a rare car. Like any self-respecting modern car, the engine is safe with sound handling and effective braking (130 km/h stationary at 66 meters, according to our measurements). On the consumption side, it doesn’t drink like a hole (7.9 l/100 km on average noted by our flow meter) and finally, it offers decent performance.

The MG ZS is now available with two combustion engines in addition to the electric one.
The MG ZS is now available with two combustion engines in addition to the electric one.© MG

Cons: an anesthetized engine

Like the Duster in the basic version, the MG ZS has a three-cylinder turbo at the top of the range. If its 111 hp seems more than enough on paper, it is not so obvious in practice. Very airy at low revs, so one has the impression of dealing with an old atmospheric mechanism, these three legs are even more out of tune once you leave the city the fault of a six-speed gearbox that anesthetizes it. Too long, the last two reports make mandatory double downshifts to pass quietly or start in an acceleration lane. If the maneuver is fortunately not painful thanks to a slow but imprecise control of the gearbox, the MG ZS does not support, in this field, the comparison with the Dacia Duster that also offers more powerful engines (130 and 150 hp). Moreover, if the latter, with its basic 100 hp engine, does not shine against the clock either, it offers a higher level of satisfaction. Finally, if it’s not more sensible (8 l/100 km on average), the Romanian three-cylinder has the advantage that it can also run on LPG, a real plus for controlling your budget at the pump.

The Dacia Duster remains a safe bet, with great features for a contained price.
The Dacia Duster remains a safe bet, with great features for a contained price.© Dacia

Cons: dated road services

If our recent test of the 100% electric MG4 convinced us of the many advances made by Chinese manufacturers in terms of driving pleasure, the MG ZS belongs to the world before. In its sticky and imprecise steering and its suspension that causes abundant body motion, this SUV offers laid back services compared to the more homogenous Duster. In addition, the driving position in the MG ZS will not satisfy everyone, the fault of a steering wheel is only adjustable in height when its rival also offers deep adjustment.

Cons: less board space

Almost shorter than the Dacia Duster (4.31 m long or 3 cm less), the MG ZS has a shorter wheelbase (-9 cm or 2.58 m). As a direct result, it offers less space to the rear passengers even though the latter are not as cramped as in a sardine box. The biggest loser in the case is the trunk, which according to our measurements, lower volume if there is a luggage cover (200 dm3 against 390 in Romanian) or without taking into account the space under the floor (420 against 640 dm3).

The trunk of the MG ZS is disappointing: we measured only 200 dm3 under the shelf.
The trunk of the MG ZS is disappointing: we measured only 200 dm3 under the shelf.© MG

Thermal MG ZS test results

Apart from its longer warranty and an interior presentation that creates an illusion, the MG ZS doesn’t really have any other arguments to put forward to prefer the Duster reference. But while we see the latter, recently restyled, on every street corner, some may still be tempted by the card of originality.

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