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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - A Honda turd polished by MGR?

I heard some car expert saying old designs get all the improvements and tweaks throughout their life span. Their time on the road and in production is a kind of extended trial period. For this reason, punters should aim to get one of the last Landrover Discoverys before they're gone for good. The same must be true for the ZS. A crappy old Japanese car that no one wanted until engineers at MGR found latent potential to exploit. Can this be done to any car? The new ZS is certainly good looking and with attention to build quality it is the customers who will spread the word.


>>I heard some car expert saying old designs get all the improvements and tweaks throughout their life span. <<

EVERY production car around for more than a few minutes sees frequent changes during the production run(s). The Golf has been around since the mid-1970s apparently but in effect, only the name has. Over the years, the cars that carried that Golf name were very different. Even the same MK numbers saw many changes, not all with production costs in mind but with actual improvements to benefit the owners. Same with most volume manufacturers.

With regard to the MGZS, which has been in production for around three years now, those improvements are far more than skin deep as anyone who's driven a ZS for more than a few minutes must have realised for themselves. With an 'improved stance' and 'wider track' the design geezers at MG-R may indeed have improved the ZS yet again from what was already a pretty decent handling car. For me, the real 'beauty' of the ZS is the handling and braking..and that's simply not my opinion figured high in a recent AutoExpress survey being in good company alongside, close up and even in front of the likes of Porsche Boxsters and Subaru Imprezas.... good company indeed and remember, those were the results of actual owners and their opinions of the cars they had purchased and lived with, unlike many Motoring Hack Journalists who think they've not only seen and done it all, the think they know it all too...:O))

I think the new look ZS will have an even wider appeal to the UK car buying public, many of whom have supported the car industry well and continue to do so ... unfortunately mostly those car industries of Germany, France, Spain and Japan.

Just maybe those real improvements in MG-R's recent products, as opposed to simply re-arranging tin and Hey Presto: a "new" car to separate the punters from their hard earned, will persuade a few more to 'buck the trend' and try one for themselves.

I hope so. Every little helps...
John McFeely

You can make any car handle - even the most evil, vicious pig - with appropriate development.

Look at Porsche - it took 30 years of continous development to get the 911 to safely navigate corners, but they got there in the end.

JH Gillson

Yes.good progress being made on external and internal bodywork but now most of the available engines become the weaklink......
Don R

The Mk1 Golf is still made in South Africa as a cheaper alternative to their current Mk4 production. Over the years the Mk1 has been variously sold as the CitiGolf, Chico, and now I think. Just this month they launched the latest one with new dash board (take note MG R!) and they have made the front window all one piece now with no more 1/4 light panel. At one stage the Citi was available with the 1.8 GTi engine and was sold as CTi.
Toyota SA also currently sell the Toyota Corrolla hatchback from the mid-80's as the Tazz with revised headlights and tail lights for the LED look!
Based on the Tazz I had as a hire car for a few weeks recently, they don't always get better! A 1300cc at high altitude - "acceleration" was measured in minutes rather than seconds!
Martin ZT


I'm old enough to remember when the Golf was called a ..... wait for it: a Rabbit!

Good grief!

I wonder if the old 1950s Morris Cowley/Oxford? - (Hindustani ?)Ambassador is still being cobbled up in the darkest regions of the Indian sub-continent. There's always a few of them driving about whenever you see street shot of some Indian Town or City.

Clarkson in one of his Car programmes a few years back pulled a sheet off a car to reveal a new Montego ..... dunno where that was... some far flung land ... Russia or India or ...

John McFeely

Wasn't Rabbit an American badge for the Golf. I only ever remember the Golf as a Golf with its cutsey golf ball gear knob (do they still have that?) Also, IIRC in the US, some wit came up with a badge for the Rabbit injection - yup, one Rabbit on top of another!

As for Hindustan Ambasador, it's still being made in India, albeit with 'modern' switch gear and instruments, and an Isuzu 1.8 engine. It's still a death trap! In fact, there's an importer in the UK, and compared to the CityRover, it's expensive at 10k! The Montego was available in India, as was the Rover SD1 2600, but badged as the Standard. I usually see a few Montegos down in the affluent Bangalore region, and occasionally see other earlier Standard products now no longer made, the Herald and the Spitfire.

The Indian market was slow for a while as there was a requirement for Joint Venture with an Indian partner, so Suzuki predomiated for a while, but GM, Ford and Daewoo are selling a lot now. The roads are cluttered with Ambasadors, and also several ex Fiats (124 shape and the 50s 1100) as well as Hindustan Contessas based on the early 70s Vauxhall Ventura.

Like Land Rover, the best car to travel in in India is the Ambasador - there's a mechanic with spares in the most remote of villages! Still, a 50 yr production run hasn't made it any better!

Martin ZT

It doesn't always work, the old Golfs are better drivers cars than the new ones could ever be. Also with Beemers M3 the E36 is a far more involving experience.

I just hope they haven't knocked the edges off the driving experience like they have with the body work !

The side of the car doesn't fit with the front and the rear, why o why did they not smooth out the rubbing strips ?? Its one step up from a mynheer body kitted R45 I suppose ;-)

Both the Ambassador and the Contessa now have Izuzu engines. And that Montego that Clarkson revealed was indeed in India, but the firm who had the licence went pop.
Dave Harrison

Seen several 'Rabbits' on Brit roads but that was about twenty years ago. I believed that's what they were called 'sur la Continent' but, maybe wrong on that......Last time I drove a Golf was a silver GiT back in 82.... nice little car. Prior to that, drove one in late 70s which was a big disappointment. That experience means that ever since I've never really understood why the world's car punters bought shed loads.....I much preferred the then very similar Maxi ... like most BMC/BL much under-rated. Thus, since always regarded the Golf as a Maxi clone. The golf was a similar concept but lacked the phenonmenal clever in cabin space untilisation and independent all round suspension.... The Maxi was simply a bigger version of Issigonisis's Mini with an additional door ... on the back. Come to think of it, so was the Golf and hundreds of other clones of Isigonisiss's brilliant concept. In my books, the Mini was the last really 'New' car. All those since are simply rearranged tin.

A recent Golf 30th Anniversary spread in AutoExpress (IIRC ?) stated the the Golf was the world's first Hatchback... Conveniently forgetting the 1960s Austin Maxi and several other cars which preceeded even that.
John McFeely

Ah, the Maxi.

Slated at the time for lacklustre performance and a poor gearchange, but as you say Mr McFeely, a really fine concept.

It strikes me that that the Mini was originally condemned for its poor gearchange - someone likeneed it to stirring a bag of marbles with a knitting needle - but motorsport provided the impetus for the little car's development. And we all know what happened after first the Cooper and then the Cooper S appeared on the scene.

But the Maxi wasn't as successful as BMC had hoped, and with no stimulus from motorsport for development the car was more or less left to soldier on regardless.

I know that BMC Competitions rallied the odd Maxi, but it wasn't a serious effort. What I didn't know was that Downton Engineering would tune any BMC/BL car if you were willing to stump up the cash.

I came across this:

Wherein you will see a picture of a Downton tuned 1750cc Allegro, and a similarly prepared Wolseley Six.

The article make it clear that the tuned Wolseley was a very good idea indeed.

But I wonder how many Downton Maxis were created?

Anyway, given that the MINI weighs about the same as a Maxi, perhaps it's time someone created the car we've all been waiting for: a Maxi Cooper S.

But how would you improve the gearchange?
JH Gillson

I was reading car magazine last night I looked in the new car section and suprisingly they they refer to the Zed as a polished turd. I did not realise this was a widesreed term.

Car Magazine makes good turd polishing material, too!
Martin ZT

JH Wrote:

>>Ah, the Maxi.

Slated at the time for lacklustre performance and a poor gearchange, but as you say Mr McFeely, a really fine concept.<<

Yes, it was slated like anything innovated from good old UK, but only by those with severe tunnel vision. I remember it well..... plus it had a five speed gearbox - who needed all those gears when your average Ford or Vauxhall back then made do three ratios only! .... and here I kid you not....many owners of such cars thought five speeds totally unnecessary - several told me such at the time.... Later Maxis I used had a really good gearchange - lever never came away in my hand ever - unlike some Fords and Vauxhalls I drove at the time...LOL ;-)

Worth repeating: Funny old game people and their cars.

Several folks, myself included, ran Maxis and enjoyed the extra dimensions to the driving experience the Maxi provided...
John McFeely

speaking of product development, just look at the Smart. Technically a Turd For Two, this car has undergone a range of improvements every year, and will continue to do so, until even the most hard edged critic will have nothing bad to say about it. If only if it were the Spiritual instead. This was one of the concept cars originally intended to become the new MINI, but of course it could never be that. Think John Cooper and The Italian Job. A Mini has to look like a Mini at least. One must look the part. But it could be a new marque in it's own right. A three cylinder engine under the back seat, (leak proof?)Hydragas suspension, it could have variable valve timing, and the new electric motor from the hybrid TF powering the front. A city car becomes a family car becomes a roadster, complete with Peter Stevens magic on the outside. Product development takes big bucks which MGR tries to finance by selling cars, but then all the punters whinge about the 45, when they don't drive new 45's, so how can they judge it and bemoan it's replacement? Perhaps all new cars sold for the next 366 days can be any colour you like as long as it is a 45 or ZS, then we can all admire the work MGR have done to it, and then look forward to a properly funded replacement. If only it wasn't such a turd from Honda to start with.

This thread was discussed between 10/04/2004 and 05/05/2004

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