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Chengdu show: MG ZS matures with mid-life update

Sleeker styling, posher interior and more active safety tech headline MG ZS facelift

30 Aug 2019

MG MOTOR will unveil a comprehensive mid-life makeover of its ZS small SUV at the upcoming Chengdu motor show, previewed by images and details that have emerged online.


A spokesperson for MG Motor Australia told GoAuto the company "will evaluate the product and carefully consider the option of bringing it to the local market".


Front-end styling is now far less derivative, lending the UK designed, Chinese-made ZS a classier, sportier and more European look with less chrome and LED headlights.


The interior has been similarly overhauled with two-tone finishes, lots of leather-look surfaces and abundant contrast stitching plus a tidied-up centre stack with an upgraded tablet-style touchscreen and improved storage courtesy of fewer buttons and the addition of an electronic park brake.


Combined, these bestow the ZS with a significant step up in visual maturity that is complemented by mechanical upgrades comprising a new 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 93kW and 230Nm, backed by an Aisin-sourced six-speed torque converter automatic transmission.


This driveline combination is reportedly capable of propelling the ZS from rest to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds, representing a significant performance uptick over the existing 84kW/150Nm 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder that makes do with a dated four-speed auto. 


It is likely that the new powerplant will consign the 1.5L unit to history and relegate the 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo – already paired with a six-speed auto – from flagship to entry level status.


Also upgraded is active safety and driver-assist technology, with the arrival of adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring systems that debuted on the all-electric eZS that is confirmed to go on sale in Australia next year but is yet to be revealed rocking the facelift.


Some reports out of China suggest these tech upgrades will enable Level 2 autonomous driving.


However, the updated ZS will also need to improve on its frontal offset crash test performance in order to step up from the disappointing four-star rating handed down by ANCAP in 2017.


Even without the facelift, the ZS is on a roll in Australia with sales of 2036 units up 158 per cent to the end of July and contributing to the MG’s explosive overall growth of 253 per cent. Popularity of the ZS is marginally outstripped by the MG3 light car, which shifted 2043 units while the GS mid-size SUV was up 40.9 per cent, on 231 units.


"The current MG ZS is performing very well in the Australian market and we’re pleased with our strong sales results," said the MG Motor Australia spokesperson.


Recent expansion of the ZS range from two to three variants with the arrival of the Excite Plus option in May could well keep the brand on the boil here for some time. The range opens at $22,990 driveaway for the Excite, topping out at $26,990 for the Essence.


GoAuto has contacted MG Motor Australia seeking clarification about local timings for the updated ZS and clarification over when the changes will be applied to the electric variant.

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