Fleet News

MG ZS 180


REVISIONS to the ZS are not quite the last throw of the dice for MG Rover and its mid-range saloon, but it is certainly not far off.

The new ZS went on sale in the spring with new headlights, grille and front bumper, some revisions to the materials and fascia in the interior to breathe some life into the venerable old car.

The front bumper has an integrated front spoiler which, according to MG, improves the stance and aerodynamic performance of the saloon.

The rear bumper has been modified and is more angular which is supposed to lower the rear eyeline of the car. In fact, what most of the exterior changes do is tend to make the ZS look even more like it was built out of aftermarket components than the previous revision.

After all, the dour and ancient Rover 45 physical traits still creep through in areas, particularly around the waist of the car.

MG claims that the car isn’t for drivers looking for well-insulated transport between points A to B, and with the 2.5-litre quad cam V6, that’s certainly the case. You wouldn’t want to be insulated from that sound.

It’s a good, old-fashioned big block of an engine producing lazy revs and plenty of torque, which through a well-tuned exhaust makes a very satisfying throbbing noise. Performance isn’t bad either, delivering 180bhp, 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and thanks to that torque, useful mid-range shove.

Unfortunately, using such an engine means that combined fuel consumption is a distinctly average 29.7mpg and on test that seemed hard to come by. CO2 emissions are 227g/km, putting it in the 27% benefit-in-kind tax bracket.

The TD 115 diesel is better for running costs with a combined figure of 50.5mpg and CO2 of 150g/km, but it does lose some of the character of the big petrol-engined version. After all, if a driver has his heart set on buying British and an MG ZS, then plenty of the usual fleet considerations such as wholelife costs and residuals have already been dispensed with, so why not go the whole hog and have the V6?

The V6 also has some extra detailing, such as the air vents behind the front wheels, wheel arch extensions and 17in multi-spoke alloys that are supposed to echo those on the MG SV.

The interior is actually more dated than the exterior. Most of the switchgear is clear and works smoothly, although some of the plastics, particularly those on the dash, leave a lot to be desired and the seating position is not ideal either, being too high and without enough adjustment on the steering wheel. There’s also very little space in the rear as well.

But one area in which the ZS 180 excels is when it’s on the move. I’ve said earlier what a great noise it makes but it also feels well damped, will cruise smoothly if needed and is great fun when the mood takes you. There’s obviously a big, weighty engine in the front – the tyres will scrabble for grip if asked to accelerate and steer at the same time but there’s plenty of information from the steering and it handles safely and predictably.

There are very few, if any, performance saloons with a V6 for around the £17,000 mark, as is the ZS, and while the residuals are poor at around 27%, it’s actually hard not to quite like the ZS 180, for all its faults.

It’s not going to make its way on to many fleets and, as the years of relative inactivity continue to eat away at their standing, even fewer MGs will. But for a driver wanting a British car with some character for a reasonable price, it’s worth a look.

Engine (cc): 2,497
Max power (bhp/rpm): 177/6,500
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 177/4,000
Max speed (mph): 139
0-62mph (sec): 7.3
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 29.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 227
Fuel tank capacity (l): 55/21.1
On sale: now
Price (OTR): £17,295

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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