Buy­ing Guide

MG ZR/ZS

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

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.

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