The revamped MG ZS EV is a good car for the price, but its timing is unfortunate. 

When it launched last year, I said it was a competent EV that would get better with each iteration. And it has. 

But then along came the BYD Atto 3, which is just better in almost every way, but not massively pricier (though BYD just raised the price by $2000).

We’re talking about a drag race between New Zealand’s two cheapest EVs. Both come from massive Chinese manufacturers and both are eligible for the $8,625 clean-car rebate.




Price (before rebate)




$49,990 driveaway

BYD Atto 3



$55,490 + $950 ORC

And while they’re both in the same price bracket, drive quality and interior finish make the BYD comparable to the likes of a Tesla Model 3 or a Polestar 2. The ZS EV is in the same competitor set as the Nissan Leaf or Mini Electric (where it wins hands down).

The MG ZS EV is a car for getting around in, rather than one to love. (Image: MG)

The ZS EV now has a 10.1-inch touch screen, but the Atto 3 already has a 12.8-inch screen that will rotate between portrait and landscape at the touch of a button.

The Atto 3 has a bigger boot and is faster to get to 100km/h.

The ZS EV has a seven-year unlimited-kilometre warranty. The Atto 3 comes with a six-year/150,000km warranty, and eight years/160,000km for the battery. (We’ll call that a draw.)

But the ZS EV wins on driver-assistance tech, which is awful on the BYD.

Despite launching only in July, the Atto 3 is already outselling it for the year.

It is not exactly a discounting but MG is promoting an offer where purchasers receive a “reusable tote bag, organic wine and organic tea”.

So what is it like to drive? The answer is perfectly fine. There’s not a lot to report. It is a car I’d be happy to own, and take on holiday. A 130kW electric motor generates 280Nm of torque and it does 0-100km/h in about 8 seconds.

It is a car for getting around in, rather than one to love.

The 2022 model is much better on NZ’s rural roads than the last one, which sometimes felt like I was bouncing around on a trampoline.

I also think the regenerative braking set-up (which charges the battery when you brake) is intuitive and possibly the best around. I leave it in the top setting, which I’ve not done with other cars.

The most noticeable change since last year is a new grille, which feels more natively EV. On the old car, you had to lift up the MG badge to get to the charging port. It was a tad awkward. That has now been fixed. It also gets LED lights and brake lights.

MG’s lane-assistance tech is notoriously aggressive. You’d do well to turn it off before you leave the car yard.

For $53,990, the Essence variant adds a panoramic sunroof, wireless phone charger, faux leather seats and a few other things. It is probably worth the upgrade, but a version with a bigger battery would have been more welcome.

In my review of the first ZS EV in June 2021, I blithely predicted the car would get better with each year’s new model and it would be the top-selling EV in NZ for years to come.

I was not even right on it being the top seller at the lower end of the market now that the Atto 3 is here. For the record, the Tesla Model Y is number one, with 2259 sold so far, the Tesla Model 3 is number two, with 2102 cars sold. Together they make up 40% of all EVs sold in NZ this year. The Atto 3 is in third place.

Next year, MG will need to go all out on price and range to avoid becoming an also-ran.