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Rover attacks with ZT

Rover with MG muscle: 190 refers to the amount of PS-rated power produced by the ZT's modified version of the 75's 2.5-litre V6.

Thumbs up for Rover sports sedan and wagon, but hot hatch gets the thumbs down

17 Jan 2002

MG Rover Australia is set to leap into the mid-size sports segment with the ZT version of the Rover 75 sedan and estate.

But the news is not so good for hot hatch fans, who were hoping the Rover 25-based ZR would be coming to Australia after it was shown in Sydney last year.

"It looks like we are going to be beaten on price with ZR ," explained MG Rover Australia marketing and communications general manager David Watson.

"It's just looking too expensive, we really need a big change in exchange rates before that car would work."The ZR is powered by a 117kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine shared with the MGF Trophy 160. MG Rover Australia had hoped to bring it in around mid-year priced in the high $30,000 bracket.

"We need the exchange rate back where it was four years ago to make it work," lamented Mr Watson.

No such problems for the ZT range, which will comprise:· ZT190 and ZT190+ manual sedan
· ZT180 and ZT180+ automatic sedan
· ZT-T and ZT-T+ manual wagon
· ZT-T and ZT-T+ automatic wagonThe ZT-T had originally been scheduled to go on sale later in the year, but that that has been brought forward to line up alongside the sedan, based on positive UK press reviews.

The 180 and 190 refer to the amount of PS-rated power produced by the ZT's hotter version of the 75's 2.5-litre V6. In manual form that translates to about 140kW and in slightly detuned auto form, about 134kW.

ZT 190 styling cues include the use of bright mesh grilles, front fog lamps, a rear spoiler and stainless steel heatshield for the large-bore exhaust pipes.

The interior focuses on a "technical" look with fascia panels and console finished in Rhodium silver, with matching silver finished instrument dials. The traditional MG octagon badge features at the centre of a black leather trimmed steering wheel.

Sedan pricing will probably straddle $60,000 with a $3000 premium paid for the estate.

The "+" model will be specced roughly equivalent to the 75 Connoisseur with sunroof, parking sensors and trip computer.

MG Rover Australia is targetting a bullish 1000 sales for the ZT range per annum, with the sedan taking the majority of those sales, although Mr Watson said he was confident the Sportswagon would do well.

"I personally remain quite optimistic about the Tourer (estate) and the ZT-T in Australia, although a lot of people say it's not a huge sector and I have just read that Audi are not going to bring in their A4 wagon because they don't think the market is big enough (automotive e-news December 12, 2001).

"But I think there is a lot of potential, I think we can grow the sector."* Meanwhile, MG Rover's plans to produce storming 190kW MG ZT 260 and supercharged 280kW MG ZT 385 rear-wheel drive versions of the 75 have been put back until October 2002 in the UK, which means we won't get them until 2003 in Australia. The 190kW version is expected to appear first.

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