|MG ZT 160
dates : 6th June 2004/10th June 2004
MG ZT series is based on the Rover 75 sedan. This close
association between MG and Rover began a few years ago as a
British consortium, Phoenix, bought up the Rover Company from
BMW and also acquired the MG brand, which until that time had
been represented solely by the excellent MGF sports car.
Since then MG Rover has been producing restyled and faster
variants of the Rover sedan range and creating a whole new
line of MGs.
This is not unique in MG's history, which goes back all the
way to 1924 when it began trading as an abbreviation for
There were sedan variants in the 1930s of the famous sporting
marque and in the 1950s and 1960s cars like the MG Magnette
and MG 1100 were sort of souped-up versions of more mundane
British family cars.
The MG ZT uses the Rover 75 bodyshell and mechanicals, but
almost every aspect of the car has been given a thorough
make-over, to ensure that the MG has a markedly different
character and feel to the Rover 75
The ZT is available with two engines, a 2,5-litre V6 and a
turbocharged 1,8-litre four cylinder, the subject of this
week's road impressions.
The turbocharged four-cylinder is perhaps better suited to the
MG stable as it is rather a rorty engine, and not as refined
as some on the market.
This is especially so in the MG ZT 160, where it has been
tuned to produce a hundred and eighteen kilowatts, eight
kilowatts more than the Rover version.
In fact the "160" segment of the MG's nameplate
refers to the car's power output. The figure stands one
hundred and sixty horsepower, which is the equivalent of the
metric measurement of a hundred and eighteen kilowatts.
The exterior changes to the ZT make for a very good-looking
car. The use of woven steel mesh for the grille and
bumper-mounted air intake gives the car a very sporty,
Chrome trim has been done away with and there are racy add-ons
such as spoilers and the very tasty multi-spoked alloy wheels
and low profile tyres.
The suspension on the MG ZT has been stiffened up with
re-calibrated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars front and
rear to give the car minimal body roll.
This is one sweet-handling sports sedan, especially as it also
employs a special MG steering rack to sharpen up response
through the steering wheel.
The steering is more direct than it is on the Rover 75
equivalent, with almost half a turn less from lock-to-lock.
It is heartening that the MG division has gone to such trouble
to give the car a really different character. This is not your
typical example of badge-engineering, merely trading on the MG
heritage via the easiest route.
The interior is also markedly different.
The steering wheel, dashboard, gear lever, seats and door
panels are all MG specific and the seats are cloth-covered
sporty items with serious lateral support.
On the safety front, six airbags are fitted, as is remote
central locking. The doors lock automatically on pull away, a
nice feature for certain crime-ridden areas of South Africa.
On the performance front, the manufacturers claim a 0-100 km/h
time of nine, comma zero seconds, and a top speed of two
hundred and fifteen kilometres per hour.
Overall fuel consumption is claimed at eleven comma zero
litres per hundred kilometres, and the car is available only
with a five-speed manual gearbox, driving the front wheels.
In recent times MG Rover has adjusted its pricing on these
cars to realign prices with the stronger rand. The MG ZT 160
sells for two hundred and sixty five thousand rand, some
eleven thousand rand more than the Rover 75 1,8T which is very
It is perhaps still a bit over-priced, as some aspects of the
car are a little dated, such as the rather un-refined Rover K
series four cylinder engine, used as the basis for the
Similar offerings from BMW, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes offer
either more identifiable prestige, similar or better
performance, and in some cases better re-sale value.
But the MG exudes a charm that is all its own, decidedly
British. If that is your bag, you will probably be smitten by
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