WITH sales of compact SUVs and small crossovers continuing to grow across Europe, MG decided it was time to increase its offering in the market.

With that in mind, it introduced the MG ZS, an all-new offering described by MG as a ‘global car’ that has been ‘re-engineered specifically for the UK audience.’

There’s no doubt the ZS has been aimed at the value end of the market, with the entry level model available from under £12,500 and all versions coming with a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty.

In this case, however, value isn’t just a byword for a lack of quality. Indeed, you get the impression that the ZS is well screwed-together, with a robust and well-designed feel running throughout.

In terms of looks, the front end has a confident appearance, defined by a huge and dominant front grille.

The rest of the ZS boasts bold lines, with silver roof rails and other detailing lending it a more robust look.

Would-be buyers have two engines to choose from – a 1.5-litre five speed manual and a 1.0-litre automatic.

The 1.5 litre petrol unit, tested here, is a four-cylinder engine which combines well with the responsive five-speed manual box, meaning there’s enough to keep the keener driver interested.

That said, the engine has to be worked pretty hard through the rev range to achieve any genuine urgency.

Despite this, its power delivery is predictable and it the noise remains fairly quiet at low revs.

The steering is fairly quick, although doesn’t offer a huge amount of feel.

The drivers has the choice to switch between three steering modes, namely Urban, Normal and Dynamic.

For the most part, I left it in normal, although Urban makes things nice and light if you’re looking to weave through tight inner-city traffic or manoeuvre around a multi-storey car park.

At the other end of the scale, Dynamic mode makes the steering feel much more weighty.

The ZS’s ride feels a bit unsettled, with a fair bit of vertical movement to be aware of across ruts.

One of the vehicle’s unique selling points is the amount of room it offers its occupants.

Indeed, the ZS provides about 55mm more rear shoulder room and 80mm rear headroom than the segment average.

Meanwhile, the boot offer an impressive 448 litre of capacity - some 60 litres more than the typical SUV.

Family practicality is further enhanced by the fact it’s a split level boot, so plenty of space for prams and other luggage .

Once inside, the cabin is a largely functional but pleasant place to be. The seats are comfortable, with a decent range of positional adjustment for the driver.

There are plenty of scratchy grey plastics to be found on the top of the dashboard and the inside of the doors, but there’s also a very nice stitching effect on parts of the dash, the seats and gear stick - a theme found throughout the cabin.

Flashes of silver detailing and a zig-zag finish around the central console also go a long way to livening up the interior’s slightly drab appearance.

When the touchscreen is on, it also adds a splash of brightness as its functions are divided into different colours - orange for the radio, blue for Apple Car Play, red to see the car’s setup and so on.

Indeed, the 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, which comes as standard on every model, offers crisp graphics .

The steering wheel has a chunky feel to it, with the MG sign proudly sitting in the centre of it.

There’s a choice of three trims: Explore, Excite and Exclusive.

The ZS’s low pricing and warranty undercut that of rivals, making it an appealing option, although it lags behind some rivals in terms of fuel economy and emissions.