If you were to hazard a guess, what would you say is the fastest growing car brand in the European market today? Tesla would be a solid guess. Polestar a slightly more niche one. Of course, both would be wrong. It’s MG.
MG! Remember them? My Grandfather used to have an MG. He never drove it anywhere, just wiped it with a damp cloth on sunny weekends, but it seemed to make him very happy nonetheless. In truth, the British car company would be unrecognisable to him in its current guise. Gone are the gutsy two-seater sports cars of yesteryear, replaced by a range of affordable family cars which, despite the badge they wear, are entirely Chinese under the skin.
This may not sound especially thrilling but, before passing judgement, understand the clout of MG’s Chinese backers, SAIC. This is a company that, last year, built 4 million cars. This is a company that builds VWs for the Chinese market. This is a company that, after losing out in the bidding war for the MG brand back in 2008, opted instead to simply buy its winning rival – another Chinese behemoth called Nanjing. SAIC is quite simply one of the most powerful and wealthy companies in the automotive world – and MG is the face of its European conquest.
And that conquest is off to an absolutely flying start. This year’s 25,000 European sales represents a 52% growth on the previous year and a third of those sales were EVs. No car maker, save for those who only build EVs, can boast a higher proportion than that.
Clearly then, MG is a brand worth keeping a close eye on – a point neatly proven by the newly updated ZS. Thanks to a few choice upgrades – a significantly larger battery chief among them – MG has turned the ZS from a car you buy mainly because it’s cheaper than the alternatives, to one that genuinely outclasses some of its rivals, while still undercutting them. We often cite the Kona Electric as the champion of cheap, value-for-money electric cars here at Fully Charged and yes, you can have one for 500 quid less than the ZS I tested, but only with a battery almost half the size of the MG’s and rear seats you wouldn’t inflict on anyone above the age of nine.
Yes, it’s still a fairly unappealing object in terms of its design but, as Kia and Hyundai recently demonstrated, it only takes one great car to change a brand’s image completely. MG has the hardware and I fully expect a radical design overhaul in the next three years, which will catapult it up the internal car brand pecking order we all have without realising. In the meantime, and even with its slightly forgettable face, the new ZS is unquestionably one of the most enticing electric cars on the market today.
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About the author
Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.