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MG ZR/ZS Published: 7th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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● Amazing value if you buy well ● ZR is a true hot hatch ● Assured classic rare BRM ● Excellent owners’ club

Well to be blunt, this pair are not much more than warmed up old Rovers yet, MG engineers did a fine job transforming how they drove. It’s hard to beat them for value if you’re after a modern classic, or a different daily driver. These models are increasingly being seen at shows with good owners’ club back up in support. It’s true that many look a bit boy racerish, with their lurid colours and bodykits, but in many ways that’s also their appeal, especially with younger enthusiasts who like to customise them further. The roomy ZS is great for the enthusiast with a family to consider with pleasing trim levels.


Both drive completely different to the Rover they are based upon. The 200-derived ZR, for instance is true hot hatch with specially tuned chassis while the larger ZS was designed with circuit racing in mind – those fancy spoilers and air dams that it wears weren’t just for show you know and they play a major part in the way this ZS drives and handles, especially the delightful V6 version. The ZR benefits a tax friendly yet peppy 1.4 model plus there’s also a rare van version that hardly drives like one!

Best models

Engines include K Series petrol units in 1.4,1.6 and 1.8-litre sizes with up to 158bhp on offer. There’s also a lusty 2-litre (turbodiesel) and a 175bhp 2.5 V6 flagship for the ZS. Two trim levels offered; the + gained power windows better seats, sunroof and so on and both models were updated for 2004 with a new look and finer chassis tuning.


You see quite respectable looking cars sell at auction for only a few hundred quid and £1500-£2000 is plenty to buy the best around rather than waste your money on a shed. The exceptions such as the MGF VVC-engined Rover BRM special edition and the limited-run Monogram ZR and ZS cars launched in 2002; these are certain to rise in value and interest in years to come.

Buying advice

Cheap but the condition on many justifies it having been thrashed and crashed, especially the ZR! Apart from track days, they also make effective cheap racers in dedicated MG championships – you can certainly have some fun with these modern MGs

In the main, it’s that K-Series engine and its tendency to pop head gaskets; after 2002, Saab parts helped a bit and improved gasket designs are now available to largely cure this fault. Also the variable valve timed model (VVC) wants a careful investigation to ensure if it’s working properly.

Gearbox whine and wear is common and electrical (plus ABS) problems aren’t unknown. The CVT automatic is not really the best of its type and if it plays up will probably render the car as scrap as repairs can run into thousands.

The rapid KV6 engines can pose a major reliability concern, not least because parts are drying up, so check for a service history.

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