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Headline:FastSaloons.com ZT1.8T Test ReportDate:30/06/2003
Source:FastSaloons.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:FastSaloons.com ZT1.8T Test Report  
MG ZT1.8T
20th - 27th June 2003.
7 days.
Roadtested by Neil.

After I drove the ZT190, I felt that it could have done with some more power. So the proposition of the ZT 1.8T, also known as the ZT160 was not that enticing.

The 1.8litre turbo was introduced in October 2002 to replace the detuned ZT190 2.5 V6, which previously powered the ZT160. The main reason for this was to address economy and emissions and thus broaden the appeal of the car. The new car has an emissions rating of 194g/km (compared to 225g/km) and a combined 34.9mpg (compared to 30mpg). The turbo engine also gives increases in performance to with 60mph being dispatched in 8.5secs (vs. 8.8secs in the V6), whilst 50-70 in 5th gear is down from 10.7secs to 9.8secs. This is all good news for the driver whether he is a private buyer or a company car driver.

The car delivered was a Le Mans green ZT+ 1.8T and as usual the ZT does not fail to impress in the looks department. In fact this car comes with the 18inch Hairpin wheels (compared to the 18inch straights on the ZT190) that really match the aggressive styling. The front of the car is so overtly aggressive you can almost feel the testosterone pouring out of the large mesh grills that dominate the front. Even the lights look like they are frowning at you - inviting you outside for a rumble.

The interior in this car looks particularly good with matching dashboard trim and gear stick surround in British Racing green. This works really well and makes the interior feel special and sporty. It also brightened the cabin and felt less claustrophobic to the gun metal interior in the ZT190 I tested. The seats are part leather, a combination of green and black with red and green flecked cloth - this was not too my personal taste. However, they were firm and hold you tight clamping onto your sides. In addition there is also a good lumbar support.
So how does the car compare to the ZT190 on the move? The steering feels sharper than I remember with quick turn in. The engine is less obvious than the V6 on startup, but sounds strong as you rev it. The car feels quick, and does not feel 30bhp down on the ZT190. The engine pulls well and the turbo kick in is not that apparent, similarly the initial low rev pull is good. This behaviour can be put down to the way the engine has been designed and specifically down to the 159lb ft of torque available all the way between 2100 and 4500rpm.

Acceleration-wise the car is officially 1 second off the pace of the ZT190 up to 60mph. The following is a comparison of our acceleration figures for the ZT1.8T and ZT190 which shows it is pretty close at 60mph but the ZT190 starts to pull away by 100mph.

Mph ZT190 (secs) ZT1.8T (secs)
10 1.07 1.4
20 2.11 2.65
30 3.27 3.71
40 4.85 5.26
50 6.37 6.94
60 8.74 8.88
70 10.98 11.64
80 13.61 14.37
90 15.29 17.7
100 19.90 22.15
On the move the car works well and again it felt more convincing than the way I remember the ZT190. The grip, steering and general ride all working well. On a good b-road the car is fun to hustle and delivers an enjoyable drive. The car digs in into corners with little roll and there is virtually no understeer when pushed. The duration of the test was carried out in the dry so wet weather behaviour was not explored.

Economy-wise the car showed a combined mpg of 31.5mpg when I first received the car. After some enthusiastic driving this figure had fallen to 24.7mpg (but this does not reflect normal day-to-day driving).

Conclusion

Price-wise the ZT 1.8T costs £18,970 or £19580 for the ZT+ 1.8T. That is £1k less than the ZT190 which puts it almost into direct competition. The additional tax implications (235 vs. 194g/km) and lower economy figures (28.7 vs. 34.9mpg) may add to the cost difference. Some drivers may be attracted by the need for the top of the range (for the time being, until the ZT260 and 380 arrive later this year), or the V6 engine. But on the face of it the 1.8T is the better engine, slower but more with more character. This is an omision for me as I normally prefer larger capacity engines to smaller ones with a turbo. But the engine combined with the difference in weight, gives a fun point to point car.

I left the ZT190 looking forward to more power, and here I am saying the ZT is a better car with less. Well as things stand I would say the 1.8T is the best ZT currently, combining economy with performance. Power corrupts so whether I stick to this decision when the new V8 ZTs appear is another story - and that is just what it will be. Watch this space…

Thanks to MG Rover for the loan of the car.









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