One of the Phoenix Consortium’s first tasks, after it bought the remains of MG and Rover in 2000, was to inject some pizzazz into the model range. The result was the MG ‘Z’ range, launched in spring 2001, which comprised the Rover 200-based ZR, 400based ZS and 75based ZT. All were sporty and userfriendly, but it’s the smaller cars that are especially good value for money today.
In fact, a great example can be picked up for around £1500, which is a bargain for a car sporting an MG badge on its nose. And, as you’ll know, we’ve been enjoying the delights of a ZR ourselves as part of our £500 Challenge – CCW’s 2003 105 model provides the team with plenty of entertainment. Minor niggles aside, it’s been a decently reliable runabout, too. Both the ZR and ZS were launched at the same time, with buyers opting for the ZR getting the choice of three petrol engines starting with a 102bhp, 1.4. The 120 version packed a punchier 115bhp 1.8-litre motor, while the 160 VVC sat at the top of the range. A pair of diesels (99bhp and 110bhp was also available for those who preferred their car to sip from the black pump.
Where the ZS range differed most from the ZR was in its range-topping model, which packed a smoothrevving 2.5-litre V6 mustering a useful 174bhp.
Both models were facelifted – and the diesels dropped – in 2004, but by 2005 it was all over as MG Rover finally succumbed to bankruptcy.
Still, we shouldn’t dwell on such unpleasant matters here, because both cars offer plenty to put a smile on the faces of canny buyers – the extrovert colours and spoilers certainly look the part, zesty performance and sharp handling make them great fun in the twisty bits and they’re every bit as practical as the cars upon which they’re based.
They’ll surely never be cheaper than they are now, so this is the time grab one.
ÔA great example can be picked up for around £1500 Ð a bargainÕ
Make sure the cambelt and water pump have been changed regularly. Rover comfort and styling but with the sporty feel of an MG.