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MG ZT V8

Broadcast dates : 26th September  2004
30th September 2004


The engineers at MG are noted for their enthusiastic approach to the production of a driver’s car. And nowhere is this sport-orientated approach more evident than in MG’s new road-burner, the ZT V8.
In the UK the car is known as the ZT 260 as that title relates to the amount of horsepower on tap. But as South Africa has become a “kiloWatts” country, the 260 title was dropped in favour of simply: “V8”.

In any event, the South African version of the MG ZT V8 produces considerably more power.
Thanks to different camshafts, exhausts and intake modifications that form part of MG’s X-power option, all ZT V8s sold locally will produce 227 kW at sea level.

And the way the ZT does this, with an exhaust note calculated to send tow-truck drivers green with envy, is a major part of this car’s appeal.

The engine MG commissioned is the Ford Mustang V8 unit, displacing 4,6 litres. This rather basic pushrod motor has been around for over a decade, but it’s fuel-injected and offers honest, free-revving performance, although it’s a little lacking in low-down torque.

Slotting the engine into the ZT or Rover 75 body required a complete re-engineering job.

The reason is that the V8 version is rear-wheel-drive, whereas the other ZTs in the range are front-wheel-drive cars.

This required new floor pans front and rear, the formation of a new transmission tunnel to take the new five-speed gearbox and propshaft, and new suspension front and rear.

The rear axle is a Dana Hydratrak unit with limited slip action. But there is more than enough power to light up that rear rubber.

The ZT V8 runs low profile 225/45 Z-rated tyres on 18 inch by 7,5 J alloys.

A lot of work was done on the suspension to provide a good mix between ride comfort and handling.

The car uses Bilstein damping and Eibach springs front and rear, with stiffer anti-rollbars to contain the V8 power and 250 km/h top speed potential.

Nevertheless some enthusiasts may feel that the suspension allows too much body roll, and MG’s optional X-Power pack does offer stiffer springs and dampers.

The interior of the MG ZT has been given a makeover , with new subtle dash panels, new gauges and a slight redesign around the central area.

This version of the ZT is the top of the range model. It offers satellite navigation, Harmon Kardon surround-sound audio and a sunroof over the already comprehensive standard V8 interior package.

This includes full leather trim, electric seats, heated front seats, remote audio control on the steering wheel, cruise control and traction control.

Clint feels that the car could be a little stiffer for race-track work, but likes the ride on the road.

He’s in favour of the basic setup which sees the car understeer in extreme conditions. The average motorist can cope easily with a car that understeers, or in other words, loses traction on the front wheels first.

But with 227 kiloWatts on tap, oversteer, or a serious tail-slide, can easily be provoked. There is traction control provided to prevent this, but Clint switched it off to indulge in a little tyre-burning fun.

Surprisingly, the ZT V8 does not have corner assist, electronic devices that brake wheels individually to correct an overzealous approach to corners. This makes the ZT more of a handful when it comes to obstacle avoidance.

Although it mixes a somewhat dated mechanical specification with luxury and old-world charm, the MG ZT V8 impresses with its overall feel.

It’s a car that’s so different from the German high-performance offerings which are very clinical in their approach to performance motoring.

At R526 000 it’s a bit on the expensive side. But if you have this sort of money, you may want something different and the MG ZT V8 is certainly that.

MG ZT V8

  • Engine: V8, longitudinally mounted, 4 601 cc

  • Power: 227 kW @ 5 500 rpm

  • Torque: 460 Nm @ 4 000 rpm

  • Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive

  • 0-100: km/h: 6,0 seconds (estimated)

  • Top speed: 250 km/h (limited)

  • Fuel consumption: 14,5 litres/100 (estimated)

  • Price: R526 000

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