MG’s ZT 190 a driver’s sports saloon Car Reviews by Car Enthusiast

17 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи MG’s ZT 190 a driver’s sports saloon Car Reviews by Car Enthusiast отключены
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If you read our review of the Rover 75 1.8T. you will know that we are quite impressed by Rover’s ability to compete with the much larger companies in the mid-range executive saloon market. However, the idea of slapping a body kit and an MG badge on it and trying to flog it as an enthusiast’s car had even the least cynical journalists raising their eyebrows and making yeah right noises. The Car Enthusiast likes to think of itself as a pretty open-minded site, though we could not help but wonder if MG Rover really could pull this one off.

I am glad to report that the cynics have been answered. For starters, the MG ZT’s looks alone put it into a different league to the elegant but slightly bulbous styling of the Rover 75. The ZT is aggressive and thrusting, furnished with that superb scowling face and large flat alloys.

The grille and bumper slats add to the appeal, though some people will not approve of the large wing and silver exhaust exit surround fitted to the car pictured. The other body parts sit well with the elegant saloon shape, and even the ZT-T (that’s the estate to you and me) looks the part.

Inside, MG has thoughtfully re-trimmed the Rover 75 interior and it manages to have a completely different personality. The black trim and sports seats contribute to this, as do the sporty dials and leather steering wheel. We complimented the architecture of the 75 interior, and it makes even more sense in the ZT with swooping surfaces particularly suiting the sporty derivative.

Practicality didn’t get chucked out the electric window with the wood trim though. There are still countless cubbyholes to store your bits and pieces in.

So aesthetically the ZT 190 is a success. Has MG become nothing more than a trim level? No. The badge starts to tell the story. 190 is the number of horses (well actually it is the power figure in PS units, which are incredibly close to bhp) under the bonnet.

The power is output by the characterful Rover KV6 engine, shared with the ZS 180. It sounds superb and though perhaps not as good as the most modern six cylinder BMW engines, still cranks out a healthy dollop of torque when required. It is easily a match for the ZT (all 1.5 tonnes of it).

The performance figures tell part of the story (0-60 mph in well under eight seconds and a top speed of 140 mph), but the driving experience is more important. It really is a joy to push this engine hard.

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The Rover 75 chassis is quite a good one, though I am happy to say that MG didn’t quite agree and decided that their range-topping saloon really should have a stiffer set-up. In fact, it is quite astounding to realise that the ZT 190 shares much of its on-road behaviour with the baby bombshell of the family, the MG ZR 160. Thanks to an agile chassis, the ZT shrinks around the driver.

Though the car is quite comfortable on high-speed motorway cruises it is in its element on your favourite piece of twisting tarmac. Mild understeer is the first sign of grip loss on the sticky Michelin Sports, but the ZT can easily be cajoled into drifting the rear of the car with a little left foot braking or even a trailing throttle. Ultimately though it handles safely, and it certainly rewards the driver willing to push a little further.

The only time the driver is reminded of the fact that he is driving a large car is when it comes to braking. The discs all round system stops the ZT well (MG claim better retardation from 60 mph than the BMW M3), but after a few miles of spirited driving involving heavy use you are soon reminded that the discs are working overtime. It is to be expected. The ZT was never intended to be a trackday car (though it would actually be quite good).

The brake pedal feel itself is superb, inspiring confidence. Indeed, most controls are well weighted in the way that even a quick dealer test drive may well convince a potential buyer to part with his money. If that buyer wants to drive a car with character and serious sporting ability then the ZT 190 will not disappoint him.

This car may now be specified without the large rear wing, which in my opinion is the best way to go. Also, a turbo diesel version is available. The Car Enthusiast has driven this car already and will have the review online soon, linked from the main Road Tests page.

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