Fleet News

MG ZT 120 - 5,088 miles


LAST month when I reported on our long term MG ZT 120, I said it would be interesting to find out what other testers think of the aggressive looks combined with lacklustre straight line performance.

Well, it would have been interesting except I liked it so much I decided to keep it for myself for another month.

The ZT 120 does not look that impressive on paper apart from fuel consumption of 36.2mpg on the combined cycle and carbon dioxide emissions of 184g/km. A power-to-weight ratio of 74bhp/tonne puts it at the same level as a typical 1.4-litre supermini, or equivalent to a Rolls-Royce Phantom powered by a 185bhp engine, so performance is never going to be sparkling. However, its short gearing means it will sprint relatively briskly if you are prepared to see the rev counter needle head towards the red line. And the ZT, based on the Rover 75, has many other things to recommend it.

Its main draw is styling – apart from the lack of 17-inch wheels and a quadruple exhaust it could be one of the new 4.6-litre V8 ZT 260s.

The interior is well finished, with only the garish seat fabric and aftermarket Kenwood CD/radio looking out of place.

One annoying absence that surely isn't going to be too expensive to engineer into the ZT and Rover 75 is a grab handle inside the boot lid so you can close the lid without getting your hands dirty.

Over the past three months, fuel consumption has been a few miles per gallon below the official combined figure – a result of trying to make the ZT go as well as it looks – but an average of about 34mpg over three months isn't too bad for a petrol upper-medium car.

Its low front-end price and the 3% supplement on benefit-in-kind tax for diesel means that at present, this petrol-powered 120 offers lower BIK liability than the more expensive 114bhp common-rail diesel. A 22% taxpayer would be £7 a month better off in the petrol model.

Following earlier reports that the car's handling isn't quite up to scratch, I have to say I have no complaints.

The ZT has always been a little nose heavy and prone to understeer (the front end pushing ahead when you want it to turn in), even with the larger wheels on the more powerful models, and as long as you don't leave your braking too late, the 120 responds well to steering inputs.

Unfortunately, the ZT is destined to go back to MG Rover this week which is a shame because its plus points far outweigh the few minuses. It looks the business and who else is going to know about its 118bhp engine?

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer): £58 per month

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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