The world is changing. Sometimes not as quickly as we'd like. But EVs or electric vehicles are now a reality, and they are here for good. Sure we have a few offerings at best. But that will change. The Hyundai Kona Electric's arrival in July last year set the ball rolling. While it was not India's first EV, it certainly was one of the most plush, practical, credible mass brand offerings. And now the MG ZS EV is here too. While they are not exactly alike - they make for a spicy, dare I say - electric, faceoff. And you and I both know we are not comparing apples to oranges here, so let the showdown begin, right?
So the Kona is well proportioned, well built, and really fits the urban requirements perfectly. And yes - that's also what a lot of buyers are looking for these days. And then throw in the modern looks - well that will attract a lot of people too The face - with its slim lights up top treatment - is in keeping with Hyundai's new SUV design language. And then all of that gets accentuated on the EV. We don't have the regular Kona anyway - just the EV. So look at the face and there is no usual front grille. Just the outline of one, and so when you see one of these coming from a distance, you will immediately know what car this is. And that perhaps is the whole point.
Cabin and Features
On the inside the Kona looks better built and comes across as more premium. But the cabin is definitely small - possibly not much bigger than on a premium hatchback. The plastics feel good, but the palette is a bit dull. The 7" touchscreen is the central piece to the dash layout and offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and more - like ventilated seats, wireless phone charging and a driver-only air conditioning option, which keeps the throw of cold air limited to just the driver seat, thereby reducing energy consumption.
The ZS EV's cabin straight away looks roomier, but would have looked bigger still had it got lighter tones instead of all-black. There are two variants and the top spec matches - in fact outdoes - the Kona on features. An 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, nav, and also the in-built e-sim connected iSmart features like on the Hector. There's also a panoramic sunroof, a PM 2.5 air filter, and more.
Three different drive modes and three different modes of regenerative breaking that you can adjust using the paddle shifters on the Kona. Put it into the third level and you can almost drive single pedal - nary using the brake. It makes for fun driving, but that's like a lot of other EVs, so what's the big USP here? Well it's sporty handling that you get on the Kona. You don't expect that from an EV and you certainly don't expect that from a compact SUV at the level that you get on this car. I would have liked the steering to be bit a stiffer. But it is easy to use, it's comfortable and really works well in city traffic. So on the whole it is a car that's nice to drive and that to me then becomes it's USP when you are out on the road.
Yes the Kona does drive really well, and my experience with it was very similar to the time I spent with the Kona electric in Korea last year too. The car is a credible electric vehicle - because it doesn't just focus on being green - but instead also offers driving pleasure. The claimed range is 452 kms, though in the real world expect 360 kms or thereabouts. So the Kona is definitely the sportier of the two, and so a little more driver oriented. But on the ZS, it's the comfort that will grab you off the bat. The ride quality is surprising, and it is very supple. You sit sort of taller too - and from an SUV perspective, that's great. But especially for Indian road conditions, you will find the ride quality really works well. It is then this car's one big USP, because a lot of people in terms of their usage, you know family usage, they might even have a chauffer driving them. The roomier, more comfortable rear seat will help only add to that appeal. The ZS EV's driving range is 340 kms, and MG swears that the real world figure will still stay above 300 kms. The car is easy to drive, its steering is also fairly responsive, and it will surprise you in many ways with its road manners, which far outshine it's sibling the Hector.
Both cars have the 50-minute fast charging option, as well as the conventional slow charger that uses a regular plug. Hyundai and MG have each invested in some partnerships to provide charging points around the country - and especially in the cities where these cars are on sale. So MG matches Hyundai's plan to have not just an outsourced network, fast chargers at its dealerships and the home charging installation. But it does one better - where in an emergency you can also call for roadside assistance to give you a boost charge - allowing you to get to your destination or nearest charging point. So MG has this better covered and intends to grow this out further since it has more EVs coming.
|Hyundai Kona Electric||Prices||MG ZS EV||Prices|
|Electric Automatic Premium||₹ 23.72 lakh||Excite||₹ 20.88 lakh|
|Electric Automatic Premium Dual tone||₹ 23.91 lakh||Exclusive||₹ 23.58 lakh|
So the verdict then - which one should you buy? I have been impressed with the Kona right from the first time I drove one, because it's a well conceived and well executed product. It was done for the right reasons and that's why it's been such a success. It's driveability and that it also hits on the SUV note - is perhaps the bigger reason for its global success - and the good reception here in India. But MG takes that aspect to the next level - by going more obviously SUV with the ZS. It is also better suited to our conditions and offers more practical space, comfort and good overall performance too. Add to that its 'Internet Inside' (cheesy tag but good credentials to have), and it is then obvious why the MG ZS EV sneaks ahead - and wins this fight. I will add a footnote though, that I hope for a day sooner than later where we have even more direct rivals to each of these cars - for even more exact face-offs. Yes the EVs are coming, and now the current crisis and move towards sustainability may well drive that influx at a faster rate than previously expected.