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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - Which one to buy?

I have a 74 MGBGT (no I haven't stumbled on the wrong bulletin board), and I also run a Vauxhall Omega (sorry - but it was cheap!)
However, I have decided to sell the big lumbering Omega in favour of an MGZ - I fancy having a pair of MG's on the drive.

My problem is that I just can't decide which one to go for.

I have a wife and 2 small children, so my first thought was for a ZT-T. But I could probably cope with a ZT or ZS (I'm starting to warm to the later model ZS) as we seem to be carrying around a lot less 'stuff' with us now eg: small baby-buggy in lieu of huge pram etc. so don't need the estate.
I have a budget of 10K - so I figure I could get a decent used version for that.
Any advice from the knowledgable chaps here would be most welcome - ie: what to look for, what to avoid etc etc

Many thanks, I look forward to some comments.......
rich w

Rich, I've got a 1972 MGBGT and a 5-door ZS180. Unless you really need the space and prestige of the ZT, I would recommend the ZS.


And to add to your confusion, I would categorically recommend the ZT
The 75 based ZT is a whole different ball game from the ZS. If you are looking for quality, great handlng and reliability then the ZT is the car..

NOW I dont want to set off any surf wars here! It's my opinion ok. It just happens to be right!


I am in the very fortunate position of owning both an MGF and a MG ZT-T . The family wagon - which is a 135 CDTi - is an absolute corker of a car. Takes our daughter's pram etc etc etc with ease, and is brilliant to drive.

If you want an excuse to get one - here it is: it's the family man's practical MG :o)
Rob Bell

Rich, my heart wanted a sports car, but my brain (and her indoors) informed me that we needed a family car, so I took what is in my opinion a good compromise - the ZT. I have never looked back. It is a large practical sedan, but it is still great fun to drive. The boot is well sized, the only consideration being that the Harmon-Kardon speaker enclosure restricts the loading of very large items to some extent. (A pram will still fit with ease.) The rear legroom is much better than, for example a 3-series, and it is also a quiet cruiser, so the missus doesn't get all worked up about the speed we're doing. It is a real driver's car, much more so than the A4 I had previously. My biggest problem? What to drive next, assuming I can't buy another ZT. :-( Incidentally I do have a pair of MG's in the drive, hers is a ZR. I'm still on the lookout for a BGT to cherish and make it a happy threesome!
Mister T

Rob / Neil / Mister T

I must admit I do prefer the ZT over the ZS, and always have done. It's just the ZS has started to get under-my-skin recently and I don't want to dismiss it without serious consideration.
That said, I have looked on several websites and it seems that there is a good selection of 1 owner ZT / ZTT's out there, for very reasonable money. So I don't think I could go wrong really (!)
My only other queries are colour and deisel or petrol?

rich w

The Diesel is damn good I am sorry to say!

or the V8 ...



I would whole heartedly recommend the ZTT 190 - its a superbly built car and provides an excellent blend of performance and practicality. The 190 is clearly not as economical as the diesel but as a driving experience it really is superb and having come to it from what I considered to be a great car, a Saab 9-5 Aero Estate, by comparison the ZTT is in a different league and 10K should easily get you a good low mileage example.

With regards to the ZS, although a great drivers car, in comparison the ZT is a quantum leap in both quality and as a driving experience - in a word; sublime.

Good luck with the choice I'm sure whatever you choose it'll be the right decision - by the way my ZTT sits alongside a '70 mgb roadster and a '97 MGF.


I have a 1980 GT and a 2002 ZT. I would have said ZT or ZT-T as well, until the latest incarnation of the ZS. Like yourself, two children, one 6, the other 18mths, and yes, even the ZT boot doesn't always cope with the clutter a child needs, so a ZT-T would be sensible. But.....
having gone from a 420 to a 75, then ZT, why would I even think of a ZS 180 now?
Firstly - bang for buck - buying a ZS second hand will get you an awful lot of car for quite a bit less than the ZT, but, if you buy "new" then you stand to lose more on the ZS in the near-term than the ZT.
Performance - I have a 160 V6 and so the ZS equals way more performance and handling than the heavier ZT or even ZT-T 190.
Cost of ownership - tyres, brakes and fuel will be higher on the ZTs (unless you go CDTI on fuel). Upside, though, is the lower insurance cost on ZTs.

Frankly, although the ZS is dated by comparison to the quality build and design of the ZT, the latest ZS has a certain style and panache, and now with proper climate control, exceptional handling and a redesigned dash layout, it has to be worth a look.

Martin Williamson


Go for the ZT, trust me I'm a doctor....okay I'm not a doctor but it sounded good. I do not have any driving experience of the ZS so my opinion is onesided but I am on my second ZT and I can not praise it enough. For 10k you will be able to get a average to good 190. No disrespect to Martin's 160 but the extra 30bhp is worth it. The car used to pull fully loaded past the ton (were permitted)with no trouble. The only down side are the tyres need a mortgage and the car drinks. You only live once...unless you believe in reincarnation then you can blow your bunce knowing you're coming back to pay for it.

The biggest, saddest thing about the ZT....ZS&ZR is there will be no more of them.

What ever you decide will be the right choice because it will be an MG.
Tim Hayton

I was after a ZS but totally smitten when we tried a ZT and now have a 160+ 1.8 turbo on the drive which swallows up all baby needs when travelling.
The 4 cylinder engine is great on fuel but goes like stink when given a chance. Mind you I know of an low mileage 260+ for 20k which is tempting if the right 6 numbers come up.

Best advice test drive as many as possible and then decide what you both like.


I have been driving my ZT260 since last October, it just gets better and better. The handling is incredible, and the performance from the V8 is awesome. Go ferrit.

Shy Ted

I feel I must balance the argument out here - as the proud owner of a ZS180 (and also an F).

The ZS is just superb and as Martin said earlier, pound for pound, it's an awful (or should that read awe-full?) lot of car for the money. So much so, that I actually tend to prefer to take the ZS out over the F these days..... (well all right, perhaps not when the sun was out last weekend).

I think the only serious issue you might have is on space considerations, depending on exactly how much child equipment you need to carry around and/or family luggage.

My advice - test drive as many as you can and determine exactly how much stowage space you need. Look at the prices and then make a decision. Easy, isn't it! :o)

Mike H
Mike Hall

A few more thoughts on ZT: The difference between the 160 and 190 is less than the claimed 30bhp, but apart from that the 160V6 got a better spaced gearbox to the 190, and the 190 has bigger brakes than the 160's 75 sized brakes - but unless used really hard the 75 brakes still perform very well. The 1.8T has the edge over the 160 V6 on paper, both in acceleration, handling (lighter engine) and fuel economy, but loses out IMHO to the silky smooth V6 growl. If you go for the ZT try for the + or SE specs as these will have proper split climate control and other features that make them feel really special.

As for the ZS, although the boot space (4dr) is less, the interior isn't all that much less than the ZT which is a surprisingly cramped car inside given its body size. The 5dr ZS probably is more useful than the ZT saloon if I compare what my friend gets in his 416 5dr. If you opt for the ZT, though make sure it has the fold down rear seat although, unlike the ZS, which has a split fold rear squab that is more useful than the single squab of the ZT. The ZT does have the ski hatch though which helps with lengths of wood.

On the ZT, I have had an MG BGT engine, front wings an dcross member in the boot, and can get 5 Rostyle 14" rims in side by side easily.
Martin Williamson

Rich, I was about to buy a ZR (I wanted a workhorse to take the commuting miles off my TF in case I could not get another one). However, in the end I bought a ZT. It is only a 120 but I am really impressed with it. I am in the lucky position of having a fast, fun car already so it did not need to be very nippy. That said, it is so smooth, spacious, comfortable, well equipped and with excellent build quality, I love it (and I never thought I'd ever say that about a saloon car, I have never even owned a 4 door car before!) You should be able to pick up a brand new one for between 10.5k (red from Kilmarnock branch) and 12k from Arnold Clark.


1972 MGB
1972 MGB GT 2.0
2004 TF160
2005 ZT120
a g dunlop

Colour: I have the X-Power Grey, and it looks absolutely brilliant with the matching grey dash trim and the grey leather and Alcantara sports seats. Obviously colour is a very personal issue, and it depends on whether you really like to stand out in a crowd. For me, the car draws enough attention without the addition of a vibrant colour.

Diesel / Petrol: I'm not much of a diesel fan in a performance sedan, as, although I love the low-down grunt, I don't enjoy the clatter at idle, or running out of steam at 4.5k RPM. I drive the ZT160 1.8 Turbo for a very specific reason - I live at high altitude, roughly 6000 feet, where normally apirated engines lose 17-20% of their power. With the turbo I avoid that loss, and I love the shove in the back from relatively low RPM that continues through to the 6,750 redline. I can also decide exactly what I want my fuel consumption to be by moderating my use of the available performance. I have averaged everything between 7.2 l/100km and 11.5 l/100km. That said, I have driven the 190 V6, and although the performance is down on the 1.8T at this altitude, the motor sounds really nice. Of course, there's always the V8 to consider if you have deep pockets...

Mister T

Having owned a Trophy Blue ZS 180 (one of the very first) and now a ZT-T 190 my advice would be to try them both. They are very different beasts.

The ZS was a fantastic drive - great handling, great power, great noise but at the time poor interior.

The ZT-T on the other hand doesn't handle as well and is not as quick BUT I think the quality is far superior and, if you go for a 190+, the spec is very good and feels much more solid.

However... nothing is ever going to sound like a twin carb MGB GT - mine still gives me the biggest smile ;-) of all the MG's I own.


You may well have made your decision by now, but as a proud owner of a royal blue ZTT CDTi, I can now confidently say that the diesel is definitely worthy of consideration. Handling wise, it doesn't suffer despite the heavy BMW sourced diesel motor up front - although the steering is perhaps a bit more leden than the superb helm of the ZTT190s I've driven. It remains a great drive around the twisties - you don't have to sacrifice momentum, which is as well in a diesel! LOL

Performance is certainly adequate though. But for me, well, I can't stop hankering after a 260... (the heart says one thing, the head another!)

So if your finances can handle it (watch out for the insurance quotes - they were horrific for me in the V8 version!!!) go for the model of your dreams, and don't let us sway you.

But IMO the most practical ZT in the whole range is the diesel version.
Rob Bell

This thread was discussed between 09/06/2005 and 16/06/2005

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