New Models - MG ZT
First drive: Supercharger adds to MG appeal
Local ingenuity adds diversity to the MG ZT sports sedan range
3 August 2004
WHILE the rumbling rear-wheel drive MG ZT260 is rightfully the kingpin act, the British sports specialist has actually updated its entire ZT range, and it goes on sale in Australia in September.
Certainly, it’s not like the factory hasn’t looked at force induction itself in the past, lashing up a twin turbo V6 as an experiment a couple of years ago. The supercharger though, shapes as a simpler solution for this style of engine.
Pricing is up across the board for ZT. The ZT190 manual rises $3000 to $59,990 and the ZT180 automatic $4000 to $60,990. For the Sprintex tuning kit add $9900. The manual only ZT260 is $89,990.
But there’s been a boost to standard equipment to make up for that, now including leather seats, CD stacker, MP3 compatible sound system, power-adjust front seats, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and trip computer.
There’s also been some styling tweaks performed by esteemed stylist Peter Stevens and his crew.
Changes include a face inspired by the SV supercar, incorporating a more prominent MG family radiator grille, updated alloy wheel designs, halogen projector units and a revised lip spoiler on the boot.
Inside there are new seat bolsters, new instrumentation and backlighting, a revised dashboard and console texture finish, and improved rear legroom with reprofiled seat cushions and squabs.
Mechanically, the factory’s focus has been on the chassis, easing the suspension settings a little to offer more travel in an effort to take the edge off the ride firmness.
MG ZT pricing
MG ZT190 $59,990
MG ZT180 (a) $60,000
MG ZT220S $69,890
MG ZT220S (a) $70,890
MG ZT260 $89,990
DRIVE IMPRESSIONS:WITH only a brief period in the ZT220S, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, particularly as the car available on the launch program was the old model, with the firmer suspension setting.
But on the relatively smooth roads the car was sampled in the Hunter Valley, it hardly proved to be an issue. Yes, the car rode firm, but it was not uncomfortable. In fact the raw edge would appeal to some people.
The same can be said about the supercharger for that matter.
The standard ZT KV6 is an earnest if slightly hoarse trier which impresses for its honesty, but not a huge amount more. It’s not a real sports engine in the way, say, a Honda V-Tec engine is.
But add the supercharger and there’s a whole new character and urgency injected. It’s a logical stepping stone in terms of both price and performance between ZT190 and ZT260.
It’s not overwhelming, but it is quick. Capable of whistling (and I do mean whistle. It’s a noise that’s constantly with you) up to reasonable speeds very quickly. For traffic cut and thrust and overtaking ability it’s a big leap ahead of the normally-aspirated car.
For the record, MGRA claims the ZT220S manual will reach 100km/h from a standing start in approximately 7.1 seconds. Feels like it too.
This is a quality front-wheel drive chassis so the extra power and torque don’t seem to have too many impacts on the drive experience. There isn’t much evidence of torque steer or wheelspin, although it can be provoked.
Like we said, a hard car to fully assess in 20 minutes, but certainly one that shows promise.
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