What it feels like to drive an EV for the first time

person standing in front of the MG ZS EV 2023, parked in front of RACV Cape Schanck resort

Danny Baggs

Posted June 29, 2023

What is it like to drive an electric vehicle for the first time? How does the driving experience compare to a traditional petrol vehicle? Is EV charging easy? All your questions answered here.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales have grown across Australia in recent years. Look around and you’ll notice plenty of EVs on the road and more charging stations popping up at shopping centre carparks, rest stops and holiday resorts. Tesla now outsells many legacy car brands, while several new EV-exclusive brands have now entered the Australian market. Those who haven’t yet driven or even been a passenger in an EV understandably have many questions about the driving and ownership experience.

Curious to see what all the buzz was about, I jumped at the chance to review an electric vehicle (EV) for the first time. I have only ever owned internal combustion engine (ICE) cars powered by petrol: a 2011 Ford Focus since my late teens and a recently purchased 2021 Ford Puma, both of which I highly rate and have integrated seamlessly into my lifestyle.

After putting the brand-new 2023 MG ZS EV through its paces, I can confidently say that an entry-level EV stacks up to its petrol-powered SUV counterparts. Here’s what I loved about driving a new electric vehicle for the first time.


Learn how to charge an electric vehicle on the go with Chargefox.

Things I like about driving an EV

It’s intuitive to operate thanks to one-pedal driving

There’s been a lot of talk online about ‘one-pedal driving’ and other unique EV characteristics. But driving the MG ZS EV was surprisingly intuitive and not the least bit intimidating. Yes, you do feel some deceleration as soon as your foot lifts off the accelerator, but it only takes a few minutes to acclimatise. If anything, the regenerative braking on MG ZS EV saves some time and allows for a smoother driving experience for passengers, particularly in busy inner-city and suburban traffic as the car is already starting to slow down as your foot moves from the accelerator to the brake. It also saves about 20 per cent of the total driving range of an EV, making regenerative braking particularly helpful in stop-and-go city driving.


MG ZS EV 2023 interior

The MG ZS EV 2023 is intuitive to drive. Image: Ben Weinstein

It handles smoothly and encourages smooth, efficient driving

The MG ZS EV has its battery mounted under the floor. EV batteries are heavy, so by mounting them low down in the car, the MG ZS EV achieves a lowered centre of gravity for smoother handling. I was genuinely surprised by how nimble an SUV could be both in city traffic and on the freeways, as a result. 
Since there are no gears, clutch or similar mechanical parts, driving the MG ZS EV felt smoother and less abrupt than my ICE car. I noticed myself driving more efficiently than usual by being more economical on the accelerator and taking advantage of the regenerative braking where possible to maximise my driving range. 
One caveat to consider is the silent operation of EVs, which may lead you to tip over the speed limit due to the lack of engine noise – so keep your eye on that speedometer.


person looking under the hood of an MG ZS EV to see the lack of engine

The MG ZS EV's battery is mounted under the floor. Image: Ben Weinstein

It’s tech-savvy, with graphics that measure your driving range

EVs have a long history of innovation and introducing new automotive technology. While there are 'techier' EVs out there than the MG ZS EV – Tesla or Porsche for example – driving any EV will treat you to a more tech-savvy experience than many ICE vehicles. Large, crisp touchscreens and faultless smartphone pairing are to be expected, but there’s more driving information than you might bank on in the MG ZS EV. The charge display is particularly handy, with graphics that measure your EV’s battery level, remaining range, discharge rate and charge rate when plugged in - all of which go a long way towards helping you track your efficiency and soothing range anxiety.


person interacting with the touchscreen in a car

Tech-savvy EV touchscreens display charging information, music controls and much more. Image: Ben Weinstein

It’s easy to charge up

Along with range anxiety, concerns over the difficulty and price of charging have been front of mind for many Australian drivers new to the concept of EVs. Thankfully, charging the MG ZS EV was as simple as plugging in a device to a charging port – much like a smartphone or laptop. 
On the road, you can use the Chargefox app to find your nearest charger and check availability, price and plug types. After plugging in the car, you can start charging and pay from your smartphone with just a couple of taps. Just remember to unplug before you drive away!  
Whenever I charged up the MG ZS EV, I was shocked at how effortless the process was. Charging does take much longer than refuelling at a petrol station, but it’s a noticeably cleaner and healthier experience without those petrol and diesel fumes. Plus, filling in the time needn’t be a chore (if you’re not in a rush). Grab a coffee, read the next chapter of your book, or polish up the classy interior of your EV.

RACV Members save 10% at Chargefox ultra-rapid charging stations across Australia.


person charging an MG ZS EV

Charging an EV is relatively simple. Image: Ben Weinstein

It’s extremely quiet

The first question you’ll ask after pushing the Stop/Start button on an EV is “Did it turn on?” EVs are incredibly quiet, and the MG ZS EV barely makes an audible hum after being switched on. It makes the driving experience much more enjoyable if you’re an audiophile who loves jamming along to music, belting out showtunes down the highway or immersing oneself in a podcast.

The MG ZS EV’s cabin is also remarkably soundproof. Interior silence was exclusive to six-digit premium cars once upon a time, so it feels truly luxurious to have in an entry-level, $45,000 EV. Even with no music on, you struggle to hear the spinning tyres or wind whipping past in the MG ZS EV. You could still hear a car horn or an emergency services siren, of course. But rather than the engine, you’re listening to a much purer radio or Spotify soundscape – or sweet, peaceful silence. It makes heavy city traffic much more bearable, and lends a tranquil quality to longer drives.

There’s no doubt that the absence of engine noise in EVs is going to improve inner-city living, with less noise pollution to interrupt music, conversation and pleasant sounds like fountains and birdsong. Those who live near main roads, shopping centres, school zones and busy suburban areas will likely be thanking EVs for the noise reduction in future. That said, EV drivers will need to take extra care when driving near pedestrians, especially around shared roads and pedestrian crossings, as there is much less noise to warn pedestrians of your approach.


MG ZS EV 2023

EVs are very quiet to drive. Image: Ben Weinstein

Is an EV right for you?

I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the MG ZS EV. However, there are some considerations to think about before you make the switch. 
When considering whether an EV is right for you, think about your driving habits and housing structure. Apartment dwellers may need to rely on public chargers to power up their EV, while home owners could potentially install an at-home EV charger and take advantage of solar energy to significantly reduce charging costs.

Australian drivers only travel an average of 33km a day, which in theory, should keep charging wait times low. If you drive for work, or often go on long-distance journeys, however, you may be spending a lot of time waiting for your EV to charge up without a home charging system.

If you’re a keen technophile, EVs are coming out with the newest and niftiest features, far ahead of their ICE variants. By owning an EV, you’ll be staying abreast of the technology curve.

Learn more about buying, owning and charging electric vehicles.
Discover more →