MG ZST

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MG MOTOR Australia has debuted a second compact SUV, designed to sit above the established ZS in a new two-pronged strategy designed to capitalise on Australia’s insatiable appetite for SUVs.

Dubbed the ZST, MG is adamant the new model is more than just a ZS with new styling and an extra letter on its name, with MG Motor Australia and New Zealand CEO Peter Ciao stating “it was designed to raise the bar and stand out in the crowded small SUV segment”.

Priced from $28,490 plus on-road costs, the ZST will be offered here in two guises – Excite and Essence ($31,490) – leaving the established ZS line-up to soldier on as the more budget-oriented offering within the class.

Visually, the two models do not look to share any major panels or features other than their rough size and sweeping C-pillars/ hip lines.

Overall the ZST looks more aggressive thanks to its gloss black grille, black mirror caps, more squinted headlights and sportier, triple-intake front bumper.

Things are more similar at the rear however with the ZST’s rear fascia and tailgate looking more like an evolution of the ZS’s rear end with a few nips and tucks around the place and a more aggressively sculpted rear bumper – the flush dual exhausts are the big giveaway.

Such is MG’s ambition to differentiate the ZST from the ZS, the two models not only brandish different styling, but different engines as well.

Under the bonnet of the ZST is a new turbocharged 1.3-litre three-cylinder petrol engine good for 115kW of power and 230Nm of torque.

Claimed fuel economy is 7.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle and the top speed is 185km/h.

Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels, as is the way with all current MGs, while gear shifting duties are taken care of a by a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission.

Inside the cabin, occupants are greeted by the usual MG level of perceived sportiness with a leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel, sporty looking seats wrapped in synthetic leather upholstery, faux carbon-fibre trim on the dash, centre console and doors, 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and Mercedes-Benz-style air vents.

With the back seats in place, MG quotes a rear cargo space of 359 litres, a figure that expands 1187L with the seats folded flat.

Standard equipment on the Excite model includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, six-speaker sound system, a surround-view camera, rain sensing wipers, satellite navigation and keyless entry with push button start.

Lighting front and rear is taken care of by LED lamps with the whole package riding on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Stepping up to the Essence adds panoramic stargazer sunroof, digital instrument cluster, red embossed ‘MG’ logo on front headrests and heated front seats with six-way power adjustment for the driver.

Safety measures on both variants is catered for by the MG Pilot suite which debuted earlier this year on the bigger HS mid-sizer.

In the case of the ZST, the system is comprised of forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist, intelligent cruise assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent headlamp control, speed assistance system and adaptive cruise control.

To the end of July, MG Motor Australia sold 2031 examples of the ZS, accounting for 3.9 per cent of the sub-$40,000 compact SUV market.

Along with the reveal of the ZST, the brand has also announced a price reduction of the current ZS range, which now kicks off from $21,990 driveaway for the 1.5L Excite.

2020 MG ZST pricing*

Excite (a) $28,480
Essence (a) $31,490

*Excludes on-road costs

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