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MG's X80 born to perform

Show hope: MG Rover Australia hopes to have the X80 on display at the 2002 Sydney motor show.

MG Rover unveils power-packed sports car the X80 at the Frankfurt motor show

17 Sep 2001

MG ROVER'S determination to rebuild itself as an independent manufacturer of sports and performance cars took another big step at the Frankfurt motor show last week with the unveiling of a new two-seat sports car and a powerful, V8 rear-drive sedan.

Star of the show was the renamed Qvale Mangusta - codenamed X80. MG Rover purchased Qvale Automotive Group and took over the rights to the Mangusta earlier this year.

The two-seater has been restyled somewhat but retains the 200kW-plus, 4.6-litre Ford V8 engine that gives it a 0-100km/h time of about 5.5 seconds and a top speed around 270km/h.

The MG ZT XPower 385 (the number refers to the brake horsepower offered) is designed as a competitor for the BMW M3 and is claimed to be capable of accelerating to 100km/h in less than five seconds with a top speed around 300km/h.

Both cars are being considered for Australian sale as part of a model rush that could also include the Rover 75-based MG ZT 190, the 385's ZT 260 little brother and possibly the Rover 25 hatchback-based MG ZR super-mini.

First up from MG Rover Australia is the hard-edged MGF 160 Trophy which goes on sale at the end of this month for $54,990.

At the Sydney motor show in October MG Rover Australia will launch the Rover 75 ZT Estate and also show the ZT 190 and ZR, both of which it expects to have confirmed for local sale by the Melbourne motor show in late February.

The company's aim is to have the X80 on show by Sydney next year and on sale in Australia early in 2003.

MG Rover Australia marketing and communications general manager David Watson said a price around $150,000 would be feasible, the ambition being to undercut Porsche and Jaguar.

"I think we'd be happy if we sold two or three a month but the benefit would be elsewhere in the range as a halo effect," he said.

"I think its role is very much there as a flagship. If you look at the number of Jaguar coupes they sell it's not a huge market but it's obviously a very profitable one and one we'd like to be in." The X80 has an aluminium body mounted on a steel box section chassis with double wishbone suspension and a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout.

Potential features include traction control, limited slip differential, ABS braking, 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a six-speaker entertainment system.

The MG ZT 385 is powered by the same 4.6-litre Ford V8 engine as the X80, and the Mustang already sold in Australia.

Producing 283kW and 522Nm, and mated to six-speed automatic gearbox, the 385 races to 160km/h in 11 seconds. An estate version of the 385 will also be offered.

The 260 - which pumps out 191kW from its version of the 4.6 - will go on sale in Europe in the second quarter of 2002 and in Australia probably by mid-year, while the 385 is due in the European summer.

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