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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - The ZT's competition

As I mentioned in another post, I did get to sit in the ZT at MG2001 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

First impressions? Great styling. Comfy seats. Lots of legroom in the back seat. Great color (silver). The ZTT was a brilliant blue - also beautiful. The only thing missing on the ZT I sat in was electric seats. And maybe air conditioning? Didn't think to look at that.

The MG Rover and Qvale representatives there were most helpful and courteous. They bent over backwards to answer any and all questions that they were allowed to answer.

In terms of marketing, I do think that the ZT is going to be going head-to-head with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry market. There's a bit more room in the ZT than the Honda and Toyota, which may be a strong selling point. Those people (I'm guilty of owning a Camry and a Corolla) buy cars for reliability. When I bought my Corolla it was strictly for reliability and fuel economy. I hate the car. It is most definitely reliable and economical but it has no soul. Hopefully, the revival of the MG name in the US market (oh please oh please oh please) will result in my being able to buy a new car with a soul again.

With MG's (undeserved?) reputation for cars that leak oil and have electrical problems, I'm hoping that the new generation of MG's will soon allay the fears of people who only heard the bad things about the "old" MG's.

Yes, a new sports car would be wonderful. I begged the reps to bring the F over *very* soon. However, as mother, the idea of a "family" car does appeal to me as much as a sports car these days. Almost. We routinely go places as a family so the extra seating is necessary. In fact, we're researching options for adding a safe rear seat for the Kidlet in our 65 B.

If they made a 2+2 version of the F or something similar, I would buy it. The marketing executives and design engineers would do well to remember that there are lots of mommies (and daddies) out there who used to live for dropping the top and cruising before the demands of family took over.

My 2¢.


Very interesting observations from the female of the species. More please. BTW, the ZS 180 at the recent MG 'M' 2001 over here in the UK had air-con, so "Roasting in Arizona" type MG enthusiasts can be "cool" in both ways in a new MG.

John McFeely
John McFeely

Don't worry - air-con would be a given for the USA. I spoke to one of the project engineers (currently on mid-size cars) and he told me all about hot-weather air-con testing. Leave the car in the Arizona sun with the nose to a wall for four hours with the windows shut and air-con off. Then get in the car, switch on the a/c and see how long it takes to cool the car down. The first four minutes inside that baking hot car are interesting, I am assured ....
David Knowles


Are you saying that MG has been testing their new cars in Arizona, or were you just speaking figuratively?
Paul Noble

The Rover 75's all have Air con standard here in Aus. As does the MGF (which is very poorly packaged). I'm sure if MG-R have been so thoughtful to have A/c as a given for our little piss-ant market, I don't think you have much to worry about for US.

The new Jag's were hot-weather tested in Arizona - I believe it's quite common practice... but I don't know for sure about tthe MGs.

Ed Clarke

To return this thread to Stef's intent: My wife and I recently bought a VW Passat to replace our soulless and boring but dead reliable Nissan Sentra. We know that the Passat should be more troublesome and expensive to own than a Toyota/Nissan/etc, but the beautiful design and execution of the Passat won us over. We still remark on what a handsome car it is, even with the new Passat redesign on the streets.
I think that there will be a strong market for folks looking for something different and exotic, and I don't think that the British reliability record will be a strong hindrence. As long as the new MGs aren't terribly off the mark for reliability, they will do just fine.
Now, if they can just send me a hot new MG Wagon so I can get rid of this 1989 Toyota Corolla in my drive...

'66 B roadster
Chris Birdwell


The Arizona reference was direct quote, as I was sitting the other side of said engineer!

Air con is a standard ZT feature with pollen filters. The ZT+ has air temp control as well.

On the reliability front the Rover 75, which is the only benchmark to refer too, is in the top 5 in the UK for customer satisfaction.

Roger Parker

On page 213 of the book 'MG Sports Cars, Seventy Years of the Mark From 18:80 to MGF' - third edition, there is a picture of a MGF being hot weather tested in Arizona. How cruel to bring them over to test but not sell!

Robert Gloyd

There is also a picture in David Knowles book 'MG The Untold Story' on page 232. I still feel that if they are going to test over here, they should be required to sell over here:}

bob - again
Robert Gloyd

Back to the competition factor for the Z cars, I think potential VW, Honda and Toyota buyers will consider the Z cars if they are priced correctly and if service costs can be kept down. The biggest rising complaint of VW owners in America (aside from base prices creeping higher) is that servicing has become so expensive, and as a VW owner, I agree. Honda and Toyota service is not far behind. So, in addition to lower car prices, keep service costs down.

While VW and Subaru have nice looking sedans and hatches, I feel the Z cars are more visually exciting than the Honda, Toyota and Mazda offerings. The Z cars look more upscale and european, and that appeals to American car buyers. The MG's would make a nice alternative to the more expensive Audi, BMW, MB and Volvo entry level cars, and are more upscale than the Japanese cars. I think they will do very well here.

Paul Fucito

As Roger says, he was there too when the conversation turned to air-con. Fact is that Arizona is an ideal place to hot weather test - loads of room too to test top-secret prototypes unless Hans Lehmann and his telephoto cronies are in the area. The MGF was tested in Arizona, Nevada and California back in '95 - I've got loads of photos courtesy of one of the engineers (who took his camera even though p'raps he wasn't supposed to - but who could blame him?). We all agreed that one of the worst combinations would be an MGF Stepspeed with drive engaged and aircon at full blast sitting in a traffic jam in downtown Tokyo... one definition of hell on wheels.
David Knowles

It’s always good to have an assessment from the man on the street. Now we have an assessment from the woman on the seat. Thanks Stef for providing an American’s assessment of the ZT. Too bad you didn’t get a test drive to report on as well.

The ZT is MG’s top sedan and viewed to be comparable to the Accord and Camry. Are the Accord and the Camry the top models from Honda and Toyota? Would it be correct to say the ZS is comparable to the Civic and Corolla? The prices have been posted for the MG Z cars, but how will they actually compare when the salesman offers the final deal?

I wonder about the price because Honda and Toyota both have reputations as reliable cars of good quality in the USA. The reputation for MG is—how do I say this diplomatically—driving an MG is adventurous! That has no doubt changed, but what will the expectation be?

What will the big selling point be for MG sedans over the rivals, style, value, quality, comfort, or performance? Answers to that question would probably be different for enthusiasts and those that never heard of MG.

As for the other subject that has risen on this thread, now is the time for all MG enthusiasts in Arizona to selflessly volunteer to hot weather test the MGs sent here. Where do I sign up? I have to hurry, there are only six months of summer left!
George Champion

Regarding MG's reputation in America for quality control issues, most Americans rightfully put the blame on Lucas Electronics. Ironic that the same company that sank the reliability of many UK cars in america, is now the product of choice for BMW and a host of other "reliable" european makes. While Jaguar still has some reliability issues, the electronic "gremlins" in the S-type, nobody seemed turned off when the new models came out.

Honda and Toyota may be known for reliability, but they are also considered boring and WAY too common. Even VW's are too common again. Hyundai, while plagued with reliability issues from the start, seems to have overcome the reputation with huge warranties, better products and good pricing.

I don't see the MG's against the Asian marques in America as much as I see them going after the entry level eurocars (VW, BMW, Volvo, Mercedes and Audi). Once again, Americans have embraced european cars and sales are up all around. European cars are seen as precision machines again, and the rust and electronic problems 20 years ago may disuade a few older car buyers who remember the past, but VW and Audi were just as plagued in that time frame, and they are top notch brands over here.

When marketing MG's in America, MG Rover should embrace the excitement of the past sports cars that made us fall in love with the marque in the first place, stress the precision modern craftsmanship of today's offerings (and tip a hat to the MG Lola to push the sport value even higher as to remind people that MG's still roar around the track) and position them as affordable european performance cars. With the right TV ads and cross promotion, the word will get out VERY VERY VERY fast.

Most Americans (who don't want an SUV or minivan)would love an exciting european car in thier garage instead of the bread and butter, oh so bland Asian cars they drive now. The Z cars will inject excitement into the market.

Paul Fucito

Further adding a bit of irony: Lucas is now owned by TRW, an American company.

One hurdle that MG-R must overcome when they return here is that, as you say, many people remember MG's as unreliable, rust-prone, oil leakers. It is true that other cars of that period had similar problems, but those makers have had twenty years of continuous US market presence to reverse any bad images they may have had. MG simply left. No new and improved models came here to dispel the bad memories. When MG does return (oh please, oh please, oh please), the bad memories of MG's perceived (but perhaps not real) shortcomings will immediately resurface.

Their marketing campaign must be prepared for this. I think that an updated version of the seventies campaign, "The sports car America loved first" would be a good place to start. Many buyers, especially the younger ones, will assume that MG is some new, unproven startup, rather than one of the oldest car makers on the planet. They need to be educated.
Paul Noble

Seems like if they were shipping them over to test it would only make sense to sell them locally afterwards, if only to pay for the plane ride back. Beats another big shipping bill going the other way. Planning on testing any more soon? ? ? I know of a fabulous deserted 3 lane mountain road in the appalachians which was cut off when the interstate went through. Can you say Ralley?
Jim Blackwood

>>>>>>>Now we have an assessment from the woman on the seat. Thanks Stef for providing an American’s assessment of the ZT<<<<<<<<<<<

There is only one problem with this assessment - she only tried out the drivers seat - when we get a ZT that will be MY seat, she can sit the other side!


MikeB - Stef's other half.

PS: We have the same discussion over who sits in which seat in our 1965 B! :-)

Oh no! Someones using dirty words unreliable, rust-prone, oil leakers.

Actually, us good-humored MG enthusiasts havent helped with Lucas jokes like the three positions on the headlight switch read, Off, Dim and Flicker.

Never the less, I agree the new MGs will appear exciting compared to the other sedans offered here and that a great marketing campaign could ensure an explosive success.

What would be some good points to make during ads? The same electrical quality as found in Jaguar! Air conditioning tested in Arizona by genuine MG enthusiasts during spirited test-drives!
George Champion

As slow as you drive, Mike, I hope it's Stef that gets behind the wheel!

Robert Rushing

I think you'll find most companies now do their hot weather testing in Northern Territory Australia. Firstly its effin hot, secondly there are no speed limits, thirdly its remote (ie away from prying eyes), fourthly it very cheaper than US (check out the exchange rate) and finally and most importantly, its a far better junket than arizona.

What do you mean better junket than Arizona? In AZ you're just a few hours from Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and California. Not to mention that you have a wide range of climates in Arizona - low, blazing hot deserts in the south to high, cool mountains in the north.

Robert Rushing

We could go on all day about many (all) marques and all of the quirks, squeeks, leaks, and flickers. I won't mention the poor electrical systems, front ends,
transmissions (need I go on) I have experienced with the few Fords I have owned. The Toyota pickup is now standard with plans for a home-made flatbed, for when the box rusts off of its bolts. And let's not forget the GM problems in the 70's, with Japanese (imported, less expensive) steel used for the bodies. Combine that with the poor paint... What's a little oil on the driveway? My 77"B" started (sold it) in the middle of the Wisconsin, Northwoods winters (20 degrees below 0)
whenever I wanted it to. (Oil doesn't leak, by the way,
at 20 below.) Let's bring it back and prove to the others on the road that the marque will prevail. I may
call David Hobbs, at his Milwaukee Honda Dealer and rally him to "bring it on". Any backers?

'64B, pre-restoration
Martin Murphy

MGR will be hot weather testing the TF at Ayers (sp?) Rock from this weekend for 3 weeks.

Anyone here local to the rock with a digital camera?


This thread was discussed between 07/07/2001 and 29/01/2002

MG ZR ZS ZT Technical index

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