With the steep rise in fuel prices, depleting fossil fuel reserves and increasing pollution, EVs make more sense than ever. Although here in India, our infrastructure doesn’t really allow many of us to own an electric vehicle for the longer trips, modern-day EVs have shown us that they could be as practical, feature-rich and fun to drive as their ICE counterparts, as long as we don’t plan on taking them to remote hinterlands.
At the affordable end of the spectrum, India has three popular electric offerings – Tata Nexon EV, MG ZS EV and the Hyundai Kona electric. Out of the three EVs listed here, it is the MG ZS EV that really makes the strongest case for itself as the best overall EV, by excelling on parameters such as affordability, range, performance and features. Let’s see what makes the MG ZS stand out among the current crop of mainstream electric cars available in India.
First things first, the official Modified Indian Driving Cycle test conducted by ARAI to gauge an electric vehicle’s range can sometimes be confusing, to put it mildly. As our test of some of the recently launched EVs has shown, the real world range of the electric cars varies wildly from what is suggested by the ARAI numbers. What we mean when we say that is, one needs to take the ARAI numbers for electric cars with a pinch of salt.
Now, one of the major concerns of a prospective electric car owner is its range. But modern-day electric vehicles have enough juice on offer to ferry you around in the city and for occasional weekend drives as well. The Tata Nexon EV is built around a 30.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack and its ARAI tested range stands at 312 km. But in the real world, the Nexon EV’s actual range differs a lot from the claimed range. A variety of tests and user reviews suggest that the Nexon dries out at about 200 km on a single charge.
On the other hand, the Hyundai Kona packs a 39.2kWh lithium-ion battery that promises a range of 452 km. That is a good number on paper, but again, the real-world range of the car isn’t anywhere close, and what you’d actually get when you put it through its paces in the real world is closer to 250km.
Which brings us to the ZS. MG recently launched the 2021 iteration of the ZS with a new 44.5 kWh HT (Hi-Tech) battery pack which takes its certified range to over 400 kilometres, 419 kms to be precise. Now, while the Kona might seem a little ahead of the ZS EV in terms of the specified range but the ZS, thanks to its bigger battery pack delivers much better real world range. A variety of real world tests have established the fact that ZS EV has a longer range as compared to the Kona. In fact, the MG ZS EV offers the longest real world range in an EV in the sub-30 Lakh price bracket. The ZS EV can go up to 320 km on a single charge, which is a whopping 100 km more than the Kona.
One of the most enticing things about driving an electric car is its brisk acceleration. The satisfaction of driving something that propels you from a standstill manically, right from 0 rpm, thanks to that abundant torque from the electric motor stands unmatched. Let us take a good look at the performance numbers of all the EVs in question. The Tata Nexon EV comes equipped with a 30.2 kWh battery that powers the electric motor, which is capable of producing 126bhp of maximum power and 245Nm of peak torque. This electric motor helps the Nexon, to achieve 0-100 kmph in about 10 seconds. The ZS EV, on the other hand, puts down 142 bhp and 353 Nm of peak torque. MG claims that the ZS EV can demolish the 0-100 sprint in just 8.5 seconds.
The electric Korean puts down 136hp of maximum power and 395nm of torque. It might seem that the Kona would smoke the ZS EV, given the fact that it puts down more torque but surprisingly, that isn’t the case here as Hyundai claims that the Kona EV would take 9.7 seconds to breach the 100 kmph mark from standstill. The ZS again tops its nemeses, and by quite some margin.
Safety and Features
In terms of features, the top-spec Tata Nexon XZ+ Lux variant gets features like a sunroof, automatic headlamps, and wipers, leatherette seats, to name a few. It falls a little short in terms of safety equipment though as it gets only 2 airbags and also misses out on features like ESC and cruise control. It comes equipped with a 7.0-inch infotainment screen.
The Hyundai Kona boasts of 6 airbags, ESC and cruise control. Infotainment duties are performed by a 7.0-inch screen. The MG ZS EV takes it home in this department as well as it also packs in 6 airbags, ESC and cruise control.
The ZS takes it a notch above with its panoramic sunroof and the largest touchscreen infotainment of the lot – an 8.0-inch unit. All the cars mentioned here are connected but MG’s connected tech and infotainment screen feels more comprehensive and intuitive.
One should also factor in the cabin space, which is another department where the ZS EV outshines its rivals. It has more space inside the cabin and the sense of roominess is further amplified by the panoramic sunroof.
Free of any blemishes
We recently reported that the Delhi government has suspended the subsidy offered on the Tata Nexon EV. The reason behind this rather surprising decision is because apparently, the government received complaints that the model failed to meet the specified range on a single charge. On the other hand, the Kona had to deal with its own set of issues. Hyundai had to issue a recall 456 units of the Kona EV made between April 1, 2019, and October 31, 2020. This recall was connected to reports from Korea, where faulty cells are said to have caused as many as 13 Kona EVs to catch fire. The MG ZS EV makes a strong case for itself yet again as it has turned out to be rather niggle-free so far and no significant issues have been reported about this EV thus far.
Although all the EVs in question here offer similar boot space, it is the MG ZS EV that stands out with its 359 litres of boot space. The Nexon EV has 350 litres of boot space while the Kona offers 332 litres. The difference isn’t huge, but the ZS manages to ace its rivals in numeric terms.
All the EVs in question here offer similar warranty for the battery and it stands at 8 year/1,60,000 km for the Nexon and the Kona while MG offers a warranty of 8 year/1,50,000 km for the ZS EV’s battery pack. It is a different story when it comes to the vehicle’s warranty though and the ZS EV manages to win with its best-in-class vehicle warranty of 5 year/unlimited km. To put things in perspective, the Nexon comes with a 2 year / 75,000 km warranty while the Kona gets a 5 year/ unlimited km warranty .
The Tata Nexon EV is the most affordable of the lot and is priced at INR 13.99 Lakh. But at the same time, the Nexon EV’s real-world range falls short of the claimed range, by a huge margin! The other two EVs also feel more premium than the Nexon while packing more features than the homegrown EV.
To conclude things now, we believe that the MG ZS EV with its long-range, peppy performance and a feature-loaded cabin is the best choice among all the current EVs available in the market.