Car Group Test

MG ZS vs SEAT Arona vs Citroen C3 Aircross

MG’s heritage like a builder of sports cars appears a remote memory, but in the current era under Chinese possession the British brand is searching to really make it within the mainstream using its Sports utility vehicle range.

First came the mid-size GS crossover, that was given a lukewarm reception now, following a lengthy wait and a few confusion within the car’s name, the firm’s ZS small Sports utility vehicle has finally showed up.

Best crossovers and small SUVs

Tested within 1.-litre turbocharged gas form, it just has a dual-clutch automatic gear box and charges 17,995 in top-spec Exclusive trim. That spec and cost tag mean MG’s latest model goes facing a couple of our favourite small SUVs: the Citroen C3 Aircross and also the SEAT Arona.

Fundamental essentials cars the ZS needs to beat, and with lots of package, it appears competitive in writing. But buyers want something a bit more stylish than the usual supermini image is essential. Driving dynamics are, too, so can the MG’s underpinnings accept the fairly advanced competition?

Not really a blizzard can keep us from discovering, although our performance tests and dynamic assessments were transported in more conventional conditions. Which model wins?


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Model: MG ZS 1.0T GDI DCT Exclusive
Cost: 17,495
Engine: 1.-litre 3cyl turbo, 109bhp
-60mph: 11.9 seconds
Test economy: 36.1mpg/7.9mpl
CO2: 144g/km
Annual road tax: 140

There’s two engine options within the MG ZS range: a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre gas and also the 1.-litre turbocharged gas we’re testing within top-spec Exclusive trim. This costs 17,495 and just has a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Just how will the newcomer fare against its established and gifted rivals?

At our test track the MG’s performance seemed to be disappointing. It faster from -60mph in 11.9 seconds, in contrast to the Citroen’s 10.7-second effort and also the SEAT’s 9.5-second time.

The ZS also lagged behind both rivals if this found in-gear performance. Its 23.3-second result within the 50-70mph test in top gear was far behind the Aircross’s 16.4 seconds and also the Arona’s impressive 10.4 seconds, enough where this really is quite noticeable on the highway since it causes the gear box to kick lower often.

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Despite a similar degree of power, the 109bhp engine feels flat. It’s not helped with a fairly significant torque deficit to the rivals the system only delivers 160Nm and also the MG may be the heaviest vehicle, at 1,231kg, which partially explains the performance shortfall.

On the top of the, the chassis feels excessively firm and crashes between bumps, missing the compliance from the Citroen particularly. But regardless of the firmer set-up, the ZS doesn’t possess the body control or even the composure from the SEAT in corners, particularly when you in the pace.

The steering is suitable, however the adjustable modes don’t add almost anything to the driving experience, therefore we felt it better to leave the vehicle in the Normal setting.

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We’ve arrived at expect snappy shifts from dual-clutch units, however the MG’s DCT is sluggish. Upshifts aren’t particularly fast and it’s simple to catch the gear box out often it picks the incorrect ratio when speeding up from a bend, simply to kick lower having a sudden burst of acceleration. It’s less smooth and relaxing because the Aircross’s auto and neither is it as being quick or as engaging because the SEAT’s DSG.

The MG’s best attribute would be that the engine is hushed in a cruise, however this only highlights the wind noise and also the still-choppy ride that doesn’t settle lower even if driving around the freeway.

Testers’ notes: “If you’ll need a manual model you’ll need to go for that naturally aspirated 1.5-litre four-cylinder gas unit, which isn’t as sweet. Both engines within the MG’s rivals have a manual option.”

SEAT Arona

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Model: SEAT Arona 1. TSI 115 DSG SE Technology
Cost: 18,495
Engine: 1.-litre 3cyl turbo, 113bhp
-60mph: 9.5 seconds
Test economy: 37.4mpg/8.2mpl
CO2: 113g/km
Annual road tax: 140

The SEAT Arona is definitely the sportiest of those three SUVs with regards to both design and dynamics. However, in SE Technology trim tested here and fitted using the firm’s 1. TSI 115 DSG powertrain (our pictures show a handbook), it’s probably the most costly vehicle on test at 18,495. Could it be worthwhile?

Combine the nicely weighted and precise steering using the tautest chassis here, and also the Arona is definitely the sportiest and many fun driver’s vehicle of the trio.

Even though the ride is around the firmer side, meaning body control is tight and also the chassis is well tied lower, the vehicle can also be nicely damped, while offering nearly as much comfort because the Citroen.

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Vertical movement is converted a bit more strongly to occupants over poor surfaces, however, you feel good attached to the chassis. The SEAT still smothers rough roads adeptly.

This set-up provides it with lots of grip, and that means you can take full advantage of the graceful, refined 113bhp 1.-litre TSI unit. It’s straight line and also the most flexible from the engines here. With 200Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, there’s enough performance at the end finish, however the motor revs out softly, too.

Associated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, it’s probably the most rewarding powertrain since the shifts are quick, but additionally smooth when you’re on the go. Low-speed manoeuvres really are a little jerky, however the DSG swaps ratios softly and it is the sharpest-shifting transmission, which provides it a benefit.

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The Arona was the quickest vehicle on test, speeding up from -60mph inside a fairly rapid 9.5 seconds, while its in-gear performance was strong coupled with the Citroen covered, too. It was helped by getting an additional ratio in the gear box along with a similar kerbweight.

The Fir. unit is quiet and also at speed there’s less wind and road noise compared to its rivals, therefore the SEAT balances a great degree of participation with lots of usability.

Testers’ notes: “It’s good that SEAT makes this DSG gear box and greater-powered engine available over the range you’ll have to find the trim you would like because there isn’t much scope for adding individual options.”

Citroen C3 Aircross

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Model: Citroen C3 Aircross PureTech 110 EAT6 Feel
Cost: 17,400
Engine: 1.-litre 3cyl turbo, 108bhp
-60mph: 10.7 seconds
Test economy: 38.0mpg/8.4mpl
CO2: 126g/km
Annual road tax: 140

Citroen’s C3 Aircross has shown itself on several occasion and it is our favourite compact Sports utility vehicle of the present, quickly growing crop. Ideas test the mid-spec Feel (a Flair is pictured) using the brand’s 1.2-litre PureTech 110 engine and automatic gear box, that amounted to from 17,400.

The Aircross’s extra ground clearance and longer-travel suspension are apparent on the go, because it’s remarkably comfortable. The vehicle tracks over rutted roads having a respectable degree of composure, offering compliance over basically the worst bumps. Even so it doesn’t feel as firm because the SEAT, as the MG lags behind with poor body control and crashy damping.

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While theC3is also more fun compared to ZS, with sensational looking direct steering, it’s clearly less best to drive because the Arona. The Citroen’s engine is powerful enough, delivering a reasonably gutsy hit of torque because of its 205Nm (probably the most here) at 1,500rpm. Despite the car box, this helped it sprint from -60mph in 10.7 seconds 1.2 seconds quicker than the MG.

The additional torque also meant the Citroen easily had the way of measuring the MG if this found in-gear performance. One problem with the six-speed transmission is it isn’t particularly quick in swapping ratios, but it’s smooth and matches the amount of comfort offered up through the chassis. It rarely lurches and occasional-speed driveability is preferable to it is incorporated in the Arona.

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It’s obvious the Citroen’s focus depends on comfort, but regardless of this and a few noticeable roll in corners, it’s really better they are driving faster and also to cruise in compared to disjointed experience you receive within the MG.

Testers’ notes: “Flair trim will get a bi-tone roof as standard, which lifts the feel of the vehicle, given there are no Citroen Airbumps fitted. A 250 Style Pack is provided on Feel trim models, adding coloured mirrors.”


To begin with: Citroen C3 Aircross

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In automatic make up the C3 Aircross wins because of its affordability in contrast to the pricier SEAT. It drives well and concentrates on comfort, while still delivering strong performance. Efficiency is powerful, you receive a decent quantity of package (with room to include options thinking about the cost) and functionality matches those of cars in the class above. It’s a flexible small family Sports utility vehicle.

Second place: SEAT Arona

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The Arona delivers sharp handling and powerful performance, which makes it probably the most dynamically rewarding vehicle here, yet it’s nearly as comfortable because the C3 Aircross and will get more package. But you spend with this, and it’s nowhere close to practical because the Citroen. Nevertheless, respectable running costs mean keen motorists should choose the SEAT, because it’s still a high-class Sports utility vehicle.

Third place: MG ZS

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Using its ZS Sports utility vehicle, MG makes a helpful step, gaining knowledge from the bigger GS. But it’s still outclassed within this company. Poor performance and refinement, a lumpy ride and CO2 emissions overshadow the affordable cost because of the impressive degree of standard package – aside from with regards to safety. The car’s sobering three-star NCAP rating is a major problem for families.

Other available choices within this category:

Hyundai Kona 1. T-GDi 120 SE

MG ZS vs SEAT Arona vs Citroen C3 Aircross

Cost: 17,745
Engine: 1.-litre 3cyl, 118bhp

In SE trim the Kona is affordable, includes a punchy engine (although it’s manual-only) and decent connectivity. A seven-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto is excellent, however the 361-litre boot means it’s lower on its rivals here.

Peugeot 2008 PureTech 110 EAT6 Allure

MG ZS vs SEAT Arona vs Citroen C3 Aircross

Cost: 18,575
Engine: 1.-litre 3cyl, 108bhp

It may be pricier (the space narrows on PCP), however the Peugeot is really a practical small Sports utility vehicle with a few premium appeal. Similar underpinnings towards the C3 mean it drives softly, as the 410-litre boot boosts usability.


Citroen C3 Aircross PureTech 110 EAT6 Feel SEAT Arona 1. TSI 115 DSG SE Technology MG ZS 1.0T GDI DCT Exclusive
On the highway cost/total as tested 17,400/17,400 18,495/18,495 17,495/18,040
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) 7,550/43.4% 7,859/42.5% 6,951/39.7%
Depreciation 9,850 10,636 10,544
Annual tax liability std/greater rate 825/1,650 745/1,490 931/1,862
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) 1,737/2,895 1,765/2,942 1,828/3,047
Ins. group/quote/road tax cost 13/504/140 11/353/140 10/488/140
Servicing costs 400 (3yrs) 414 (2yrs) N/A
Length/wheelbase 4,154/2,604mm 4,138/2,566m 4,314/2,585mm
Height/width 1,637/1,765mm 1,543/1,780mm 1,611/1,809mm
Engine 3cyl in-line/1,199cc 3cyl in-line/999cc 3cyl in-line/999cc
Peak power/revs 108/5,500 bhp/revoltions per minute 113/5,000 bhp/revoltions per minute 109/5,200 bhp/revoltions per minute
Peak torque/revs 205/1,500 Nm/revoltions per minute 200/2,000 Nm/revoltions per minute 160/1,800 Nm/revoltions per minute
Transmission 6-spd auto/fwd 7-spd dual-clutch/fwd 6-spd dual-clutch/fwd
Gas tank capacity/spare wheel 45 litres/space saver 40 litres/repair package 48 litres/compressor
Boot capacity (seats up/lower) 410-520/1,289 litres 400 litres/N/A 448/1,375 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,203/612kg/N/A 1,210/470/1,200kg 1,231/499/500kg
Turning circle 10.8 metres 10.6 metres 11.1 metres
Fundamental warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 3yrs (60,000)/2yrs 7yrs (80,000)/1yr
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 26th/14th sixth/17th 25th/N/A
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars 85/82/64/60/5 (2017) 95/80/77/60/5 71/51/59/29/3
-60/30-70mph 10.7/11.1 secs 9.5/8.8 secs 11.9/11.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/fourth 4.5/5.9 secs 3.5/4.1 secs 6.3/8. secs
50-70mph in fifth/sixth/seventh 9.8/16.4 secs/N/A 6.3/7.9/10.5 secs 17.4/23.3 secs/N/A
Top speed/revoltions per minute at 70mph 114mph/2,250rpm 113mph/2,500rpm 112mph/2,200rpm
Braking 70-/60-/30-0mph 47.5/35.9/8.3m 51.6/35.1/8.2m 51.9/34./11.2m
Noise outdoors/idle/30/70mph 70/45/63/72dB 68/52/65/73dB 68/43/70/75dB
Auto Express econ. (mpg/mpl)/range 38./8.4/376 miles 37.4/8.2/329 miles 36.1/7.9/381 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 40.9/58.9/50.4mpg 49.6/62.8/56.5mpg 34.5/54.3/44.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 9./13./11.1mpl 10.9/13.8/12.4mpl 7.6/11.9/9.9mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/income tax bracket 172/126g/km/24% 174/113g/km/21% 181/144g/km/27%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Six/yes/250/no Six/yes/yes/no Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/lane keep/blind place/AEB Yes/no/no/490* Yes/no/no/yes Yes/no/no/no
Clim ctrl/cruise/leather/heated seats 350/yes/no/no Air-disadvantage/yes/no/no Yes/yes/no/no
Metallic/LEDs/keyless go/pwr tailgate 520/no/no/no Yes/no/no/no 545/no/no/no
Sitting-nav/digi dash/DAB/connect apps 600*/no/yes/no Yes/no/yes/yes Yes/no/yes/no
W’less charging/CarPlay/Android Auto No/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes No/yes/no

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