Australia’s best-selling small SUV

March 24, 2023

You’re looking at Australia’s best-selling small SUV – The MG ZST is part of the best-selling range of small SUVs on offer in Australia.

The MG ZST wears a unique badge, but it’s essentially a heavily-updated version of the ZS that’s been sold in Australia since 2018 – but with more power, more equipment, and a more stylish design. It’s longer and taller, and its structure has been made stiffer to boot.


What do you get?

The range-topping MG ZST Essence features the following:

  • Unique 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Embossed MG logo on headrests
  • Heated front seats
  • Six-way power driver’s seat

That’s atop the following standard features elsewhere in the ZST range:

  • 1-inch touchscreen infotainment display
  • Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Satellite navigation
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Automatic headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • LED headlights and tail lights
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Front fog lights
  • Leatherette upholstery


Is the MG ZST Essence safe?

The ZST hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but the ZS on which it’s based has a four-star rating from testing carried out in 2017.

It’s worth mentioning though the ZS EV, which also features the same suite of active safety technology as the ZST, scored a five-star rating based on testing carried out in 2019.

Standard safety equipment on all ZST models includes:

  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Traffic Jam Assist
  • Surround-view cameras


What is the MG ZST Essence like on the inside?

The ZST cabin is neatly laid out and features plenty of interesting touches, led in the Essence by the MG crest embossed on the headrests. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastic on the dashboard and plenty of red contrast stitching.

The digital instrument binnacle is exclusive to the ZST Essence and offers just the right amount of information. It’s sharp to look at and does a good job elevating the cabin above what’s offered elsewhere in the class.

Storage is good around the cabin, from the space under the dashboard to the cupholders, door pockets, under-arm bin, and glovebox. You get two USB-A ports up front, but unfortunately no wireless phone charging.

Rear seat space is excellent relative to similarly priced alternatives, with space for adults behind regular-sized adults in the outboard seats. Headroom is good despite the sunroof, and there’s plenty of legroom – although the lack of air vents is a missed opportunity, and could be exacerbated by the hot seat trim and flimsy sunroof cover in summer.

There’s also no fold-down central armrest, nor a central rear headrest. That’s good for visibility, but not great if you plan to use the seat regularly. The USB charge ports are handy, however.

The boot space is impressive. You get a claimed 395 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1187L with them folded flat.


How does the MG ZST Essence drive?

The red brake callipers, Trophy badging, and GTI steering wheel all give the impression the ZST has some sporting intent. Although it’s not a sports car, the engine goes some way to back up that impression.

The engine is relatively smooth and quiet when you aren’t in a hurry, with no awkward or unseemly vibrations sneaking into the cabin, and it’s mated to a six-speed auto that shuffles unobtrusively through the gears.

Vision out is excellent in every direction, and smaller drivers will enjoy what’s quite a commanding driving position. Combined with light steering, the all-around vision makes the ZST feel at home in the confines of the city. It’s a shame the rear-view camera is a bit ropey because it’s the only part of the package that saps your confidence.

The car is a relaxed highway cruiser, with impressive noise suppression at 100km/h and a planted big car feel.


How much does the MG ZST Essence cost to run?

The MG ZST is backed by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with seven years of roadside assistance.

Servicing is required every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. Five years of servicing in the 1.3-litre cost $1566 using the MG Australia capped-price service plan.

This article was originally featured on and can be viewed here.