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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - ZS120+ or not?

I am thinking of buying a ZS120+ as my next company car, anyone got one? What do you think of the handling/engine? I've driven a ZS180 and wow.....Its like an Impreza Turbo. If only it wasn't so thirsty, I've got a Rover 620ti at the moment and at 23mpg its just too much (and it doesn't handle well).


Tim, the 120 handles every bit as well as the 180, and while its not as quick, it does actually go remarkably quickly! It sounds iffy on paper, but I was pleasantly suprised when I drove one.

I keep meaning to write up the road test for my site & keep forgetting to do so.


Steve Childs.
Steve Childs

Don't forget that the rules on company car tax change as from this April. From April 2001 you will be paying 17% of the purchase price of a ZS+120. That will increase over the next two years as the CO2 limits decrease by 10 % (for tax purposes).
Iain T

After owning a ZS 120 since October I would readily recommend them to anyone.

I too decided that for my purposes the 180 was too thirsty and as most of my motoring is done in town (during the week at least) the extra performance would be unused.

Handles well on the road, either twisty back roads or long straight roads, and has better performance than the figures would suggest.

I swapped a Ford Cougar 2.0i for one and have never looked back in the last 3.5 weeks. The girlfriend likes the seats - all of them ;) Oh and the car goes well. I got a 120+ 5dr for 11695 at Clemo Mg Rover Cleckheaton pre-reg with 8 miles on the clock. Its now got over 600!

i've driven both the 180 and the 120 versions. The 120 is slightly softer on the ride due to the 16" alloys, the performance is very different but is no slouch. I nearly bought one but opted for the ZR160 instead - regret it now.
Perrys in Huddersfield my local dealer had one last week 4 door with 17" alloys in stunning trophy blue pre reg for 11995,according to mike the salesman who sold me my car, makes me weep
tell you what, buy my ZR and i'll get the ZS


From my viewpoint, the ZS120 has had a very low publicity profile of all the Z cars since they were introduced last year. Thus, it may have been easily overlooked but at around 120 bhp in what is a relatively small car, should make it an attractive proposition for many wanting an MG saloon. The ZS180 with it's superb V6 is an impressively fast and powerful car and understandably has received much more attention. However, in any given point to point journey in the UK, I doubt there would be much difference between the two cars all other things being equal.

I welcome all feedback from 120 owners. Particularly be interested to know what mpg owners get from both models once there's a few thousand miles on their clocks. You really need to live with a car for at least a few weeks to get a worthwhile impression. For several obvious reasons, fuel consumption is an ever increasing consideration in recent years and this will be one big advantage for those chosing a ZS120.
John McFeely

Rob, Yorkshire WROTE:

>Perrys in Huddersfield my local dealer had one last week 4 door with 17" alloys in stunning trophy blue pre reg for 11995<

That sounds like excellent value - bet you wished you waited a little longer. The ZS120 - much overlooked but possibly the pick of the bunch!
John McFeely

Thanx for the advice. I'll deffinatley book a test drive and consider it. Just need to convince the boss that 17' wheels, side skirts and the fog lights are all essential features (so he'll let me have them).

Tell your boss that all those features and owning an MG will give you pride in ownership. Your more likey to look after it, keeping it clean ect etc, therefore presenting at good image, & the car will most likely retain more value than say some common old Vauxhall!


Currently considering this as a replacement for the 214Si kiddy wagon, perhaps a head job and a few other tweakes could raise the power levels to 150-160bBHP without much trouble, comparing this to the thirstier/heavier 180V6 might be a better way forward especially as there are plenty of spares available for the 1.8i engine.However a V6 tuned to 210BHP ?? Useful comments appreciated.

Todays Daily Mail has a full page advert for the ZS 120.

Now includes a years free insurance!!!


yesterdays sun had a full page pic on the ZR120, i think all ZR+ZS models still have the free insurance until the end of the month


I belive that they are going to up them to 135 BHP, by the way I see Lotus and MGR have had a falling out.

didn't i see in this mornings news of the world lotus is shedding 5000 jobs.........worrying

Some minor tweeks are going to appear later this year, but whether the 136PS engine from the new TF 135 will be one I don't know. Having driven behind that engine for some miles I can certainly confirm that it does not suffer from being a peaky engine although one of the main mods for the 135 model are cams. The peak power moves from 5500rpm to 6750rpm and peak torque would move from 2750rpm to 5000rpm. (Z Vs TF figures)

One of the other features for the TF is the lowering of the overall gearing using the different final drive ratio so the gearing drops by about 8%. The ZR and ZS 120 models share the same powertrain and both have the 4.2 final drive that gives lower gearing to start with. The ZR 160 shares the same 3rd and 4th gears with a lowered 5th gear (same as Rover 200 BRM) and 1st and second ratios from the Diesel gearbox.

The point I am making here is that without any change to ratios the car will feel slower as there is from what I see about a 6% drop in torque in the mid range where you would see it most. The TF masks this with an overall reduction on gearing of 8% so the effect is slightly more acceleration. The Saloons would need to go the same way otherwise you will feel cheated.

Another difficult aspect is seen with the TF and this relates to CO2 emissions with the TF 135 showing a 189 figure that moves it i to band D. The old 1.8i engine was in the lower band C with 182. The Saloon 120 spec engine shows a creditable 173 and 174 figure (ZR and ZS). Whilst this is 8 and 9 below the old 1.8i and 5 and 6 below the ZR 160 any commonisation of the 135 spec will almost certainly see an increase similar to that seen between F and TF. This will take the resulting figure quite close to the 185 cut off before enetering band D.

The other point to mention is that the TF is also 2mpg worse with combined economy in 135 spec over the 160 spec. In the TF I feel that the 160 model makes a very strong case in economy over the lower 135 spec model. Placing the same situation in the ZR will make life more difficulot than it needs to be. In the ZS it would simply serve to close the gap somehwat between it and the 180, although that gap will remain quite wide.

What the last few paragraphs of waffle mean is that dropping the TF 135 spec engine into the saloons is far from a simple and natural thing to do.

Mike also makes the very valid point of taking a 120 and tweaking it. As he and I both know there is a huge degree of room to move in the direction with the non VVC engine. 160bhp is a reasonable and easy to reach target, ideally without cams though, and as such the original economy and wide torque band of the engine will be retained. The extra power will be seen throughout the whole rev range, but with greater gains at higher rpms where the standard engine becomes somewhat asthmatic.

Certainly I would view the adoption of the alloy manifold and 52mm throttle body as a start point to be matched with either a 160 air filter or probably better still the ITG airbox. This would provide a very useful increase on any 120 spec engine and not be far below the 135 factory spec. Add head work and then your going to push to old VVC levels with a basic spec and 160 levels with a really trick spec. The resulting idle and low speed characteristics will be beyond the wifes perceptions of any changes having taken place, at least on the shopping expeditions!

Specifically for you Mike, my consumption on the ZS 180 has averaged 29.4mpg so far and the F, which is used in much the same conditions, is currently sitting at 35.8mpg. The F figure is lower than in summer by about 2mpg, so the ZS may crack 30 in better weather. The F on the last RR run was 35% up (average) on it's previous spec so the power is in the Trophy 160 BHP range and this is before I fit the 52mm throttle which I have had sitting on the bench for 8 weeks now!! However I feel I am close to the fuelling ceiling with my curent set up.

Roger Parker


I've got a ZS 120+ hatchback as a company car. I've now done 3500 miles in it, no problems other than an occasionally sticking accellerator which has caused panic a time or two!

I'm really pleased with it all round, handles well, fast, good economy, comfortable on long runs & practical. I'd also say I've never had a company car that's attracted so much interest - one chap I saw last week liked it so much he was going to test drive one!


Greg Thornton

Thanks everyone, I'm deffinatley going to test drive one once my boss has confirmed my budget. Its a shame that MG don't have a powerful diesel for the ZS/ZT (the VW/BMW sporty diesels sell really well) as this would attarct more company buyers to the range.

I'm thinking of getting one - what insurance group is the ZS120?
David Bainbridge

I've driven both the 120 and 180. Impressed with the 120 but if you can live with the fuel consumption go for the 180 you won't regret it, I did and it is superb
I don't think the consumption is to bad it returns around 27mpg.
Anyone out there also own a solar red one as I haven't seen any others I appear to have the only one in this area.
Also are there any mets for the new Z cars as all the MG owners club mets seem to be geared up around the old cars.

This thread was discussed between 04/02/2002 and 19/02/2002

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