1 May 2002
MG’S ZT was a firmer, sportier and dynamically more accomplished version of the front-wheel drive 75.
Released in the UK in 2001, it partly revived MG Rover sales and established a name for the ZT as a real driver’s car.
No doubt the 1995-2003 BMW E39 5 Series-based chassis’ ability to cope with a whole lot more power was responsible, but MG’s revised suspension and steering geometry helped too.
Over the 75, the more aggressively styled ZT brandished lurid primary colours, black paint where chrome once was, mesh grilles and lovely alloys.
Xenon headlights, a big airdam, driving lights, a rear spoiler and large-bore exhaust pipes with steel heat shields completed the exterior changes.
Inside the sporting theme continued with new seats, grey or metallic-look trim, MG graphic instrumentation and a sports steering wheel. And wood of all varieties was totally banished.
MG could stand for ‘Massaged Gently’, as reworked versions of Rover’s evergreen 2.5-litre quad-cam KV6 motivatd the ZT.
Manual versions (ZT 190 – for 190bhp) pump out 140kW of power, while the driver-adaptive auto variants – called 180 - make do with the slightly detuned 133kW engine. Over the Rover, reduced back-pressured exhaust and induction systems, a more aggressive cam profile, improved throttle response, upgraded cooling and a shorter final drive add magic to the MG.
Underneath the ZT’s lowered and stiffened suspension settings accommodate firmer springs, dampers and engine/subframe mounts for flatter, more taut handling and roadholding.
Stiffer bushes, a quicker steering rack and bigger brake discs (with uprated force-assist ABS) complete the chassis changes.
Smart gearing from the firm, short-shifting Gertrag five-speed manual gearbox made the most of the 245Nm of torque available.
Standard features include air-conditioning, force-assisted ABS, an armada of airbags, Xenon headlights, keyless entry, a CD player, electric windows, cruise control and alloy wheels.
A ‘plus’ package – often referred to as the ZT+ - packed in a trip computer, leather trim, parking radar and climate control air-conditioning.
From May 2002 the ZT-T Touring wagon arrived in 180, 180+, 190 and 190+ guises.
A Western Australian developed Sprintex supercharger was devised for the ZT Series 1 and 2 from July 2004.
Known as the ZT 220S, it pushed the 2.5-litre V6’s outputs to 165kW and 288Nm. The supercharger is retro-fittable to all ZTs.