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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - What is the ZR like? we don't have 'em in OZ


I currently own an MGF and as I may be emigrating to the UK later this year, I probably won't bring the F with me, but sell it here and buy a used MG over in the UK. I'm looking at the ZR at the moment via the net as we don't have these or the ZS in Australia.

So, if there are any ZR owners out there, could you perhaps give me some thoughts on what you think. I'm leaning towards the 120 or 120+ and either 3 or 5 door.

Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.


eye catching and very smart looking. Rock steady at high speed with a cool calm hand at the wheel. Progressive steering is good at junctions, roundabouts and for parking. A whole new technique to be perfected there.

Handling is top rate, but know when to push and when to ride or fall back. I have the 105, but I always have the feeling there is more to give. If I had the money I'd go for the 160 as it's VVC.

Buy the MG Express version (it's a van) and save on tax and insurance.

3 door versions have bigger doors. Extra care needed when parking in tight spaces.

Car seems bigger than it really is. Note this when negotiating a parking space and when driving down narrow streets with double parked cars. There's usually more space around the car than you think!

At worst I'd say the car sometimes felt a bit clumpy dumpy, and the steering feels wooden at very slow parking speeds. Second gear can be unwilling.

Engine and gear change loosen up with mileage.

Apart from some cronky old Honda dashboard bits (like on the F/TF?), a very nicely presented car.


Cheers Gary. I wonder, if the ZR (120 & 160) has the same donk as the F/TF, have there been any problems with HGFs in the ZRs?

Jim, yes they both use the same K series engine. If you have a K&N it would probably worth taking it off the F and bringing it with you.


have just purchased a new zr160 in silver. Not happy with some of the paintwork and am having the rear skirt resprayed as the colour is very blotchy. On opening the bonnet for the first time I found that the fuse box cover to be missing, and also the centre of the dash(around the heater controls) is scratched and will be replaced. maybe the P.D.I. done by the dealer is not up to standard.
Apart from these niggly bits the car is great fun.
G J Bevan

Yes, and those niggly bits are all too important for a company that is trying so hard to succeed, to be doing without. I can think of some niggly bits with mine, that were just to petty to mention at the dealership. It just takes the edge off a well intended car.

Of course it matters

The state of some cars that have been PDI'd astounds can fusebox covers be missed?



Saw 2 bright yellow ZRs at the 2001 Sydney motor show. Spotted one while working in Sydney last year. Some one must be bringing them in.

Son in Sydney just got himself a 3 litre Holden. He tells me the only thing with 2 litres you can buy in Oz is orange juice!
Patrick Beet

Hey guys,

Our club had a rep from MGR Australia come down to Canberra about year or so ago to talk about the plans for importing new models. I seemed to recall something about bringing in the R and T models but not the S - can't remember why but presumably a marketing decision. If they're bringing them in now then it's news to us as there hasn't been any promo material that I'm aware of. I might just have to give the local dealer a call and see what they know. Maybe I can test drive one here before buying one in the UK - if I ever get there!



Talking to Valter at the CoLPUC meeting the other Saturday, he says that the ZS isn't available in Portugal either.

Not sure why this is, could be because the ZS is the first Zed car to be revised in the near future or maybe because there are still some markets where the Rover/Honda deal on this car is still active.


Scarlet Fever

Hey SF, I find it odd too that the S won't be offered over here as it would p;robably compete with other medium sized cars pretty well. The only aspect which might let it down is the interior - I'm only going by what I've read in MGW and seen on the web, but the interior might look a bit dated compared to the cars it would compete with.

What do you think Scarlet?


Sorry, I know I am not Scarlet :) , but having owned a 400 and currently a 200 and ZT personally, I think the R being introduced to a new market would not look dated. The only reason it gets slated here is that the original launched 7 years ago, but I still think it is modern by comparison to newer cars. It may seem a bit plasticky, but at this end of the market, it would be difficult to justify more expensive materila when selling down to a price as VW discovered in the Polo/Lupo.

As to the ZS, again if it is new to a market, some would find it interesting, as the styling is neutral enough not to date it. Sure it might be a bit bland for some peoples' taste, and the Honda switchgear might give the game away. But at the end of the day, the winning feature of the ZS is its performance and handling, not looks. (acknowledged by Tiff Needell on TopGear to be the best handling car he has driven in FWD IIRC).

In Oz and South Africa, the original portfolio was the 75 and the F/TF. This made sense as these territories remember the big Rover saloons and MG 2 seater sportscars. I think the ZT was then launched alongside the 75, but I think this was a mistake. Whilst the ZT is a lovely car, with excellent quality, it does not fit the percetion of the MG image, and suffers from a lack of power for OZ/RSA. Whilst the 75 can get away with V6 power, the ZT can't, it needs to compete against Holdens/Fords with v8's. IMHO, the ZR/ZS would have made more sense since the K4 and the KV6 would have been acceptable in this size of car in your market.

JLD sometimes posts here and he has a ZR and a ZS so hopefully he can comment, too.


As Martin rightly says we have a ZS 120 and a ZR 105.

The ZR is great fun to drive and certainly gets attention (being a trophy yellow car must help!)

The ZS is different. Superb handling yet more relaxing on a long drive. It also carries speed better through corners than the ZR, the ZR being much more of a 'point and squirt' car.

With regard to engine choice, it depends on the type of driving that you do. The 160 (VVC) needs to be revved to get the best out of it - great across country or along nice twisty back roads- whereas the 120 is a lot happier in town (max torque is available at around 3000 rpm) yet still has a turn of speed that is almost equal to the 160 up to 100 mph (above this the 160 will leave a 120).

Whichever varient you choose I'm sure that you will enjoy.


ZS is in NZ albeit in small numbers -,2106,2538976a2021,00.html

Thanks guys, appreciate the info.


>> Hey SF, I find it odd too that the S won't be offered over here as it would p;robably compete with other medium sized cars pretty well. The only aspect which might let it down is the interior - I'm only going by what I've read in MGW and seen on the web, but the interior might look a bit dated compared to the cars it would compete with.

What do you think Scarlet? <<

Personally i like the interior of the ZS. Some of the switches are a little 'clunky' and the central fascia is a little squared off for my liking, but in general it is pretty well done IMO. The ZS has the same (superb) seats as the ZT and the dash is rather tasteful, being more subdued than the ZR and ZT. Quite conservative really. The only thing i dislike inside the ZS is the passenger air bag, which sits on top of the dash and looks like an afterthought.

As a piece of design, the only thing that dates it IMO is the switchgear. It all works and feels well screwed together, the driving position is perfect for me (i found the ZR a bit cramped, but then i am freakishly large). Regarding the competition, well, the Focus moved the game on in this sector and everyone seems to be trying to keep up at the moment - personally i think the Focus interior, much like the Ka, is more about pleasing the car's designer than the driver. The ZS is probably the antithesis of the Focus, in so far as it is a little plain and functional, but it is in no way unattractive and is quite well laid out from an ergonomical point of view.

Overall, the ZS cabin is a perfectly pleasant place to be, everything falls to hand and works well. It uses soft-feel plasics which make it feel 'cosy' and has a reasonable amount of space (although rear leg room is a bit limited with the front seats right back). The boot on the 4 door version is absolutely massive - it really dwarfs anything i've ever had before.

So, if your yardstick on whether a cabin is dated or not is the Focus, then yes the ZS does feel a bit behind the times. But if being a fashion victim isn't your style, then i'm sure the ZS interior is more than up to the task. :-)

The only real criticism i have with the ZS interior is that it doesn't feel as 'special' as the rest of the car. I may hve to do something about this inthe future... ;-)

SF <---I can hear the Dark Side calling...
Scarlet Fever

>The only thing i dislike inside the ZS is the passenger air bag, which sits on top of the dash and looks like an afterthought

The other thing that I really dislike is the location of the electric window switches. One is on the driver's door and the other is behind the handbrake lever.


Thanks Scarlet, appreciate your thoughts. I'm keen to check out the ZS and ZR if and when I get over there and from I hear and read, the ZS sounds like a good tourer. On the other hand, I may just go for a TF and opt for a hardtop. Ah, the luxury of choice.



This thread was discussed between 29/05/2003 and 19/06/2003

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