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Sex and the ZT Once upon a time there was a nice, comfy Rover 75 saloon. Then MG got their hands on it..
The Independent - United Kingdom; Mar 23, 2002

When I first heard about the ZT I couldn't help but wonder why MG Rover Group had tried to turn the comfy, snug and decent-value Rover 75 into a rip-snorting sports saloon. OK, so the 75 tends to appeal to the older end of the market. But so what? Wrinklies have rights too, and they can't all be expected to drive Toyota Corollas. I realise that most manufacturers lust after the 25-to-45 age range, but what was wrong with Rover concentrating on a market that they have served well since the Fifties?

However, about half-way through delivering this monologue to my passenger on my first drive in the ZT, I was forced to eat my words. Though only a fraction quicker than the 75, with which it shares its 2.5-litre V6 engine, the ZT is much zingier. There is a shade more power, but this extra zest comes mostly from clever engineering adjustments which have given the car a lovely snickety-snack gear change, quicker steering, excellent brakes, stiffer springs and lowered suspension. Happily, the ZT retains the 75's comfy ride and refinement.

The exterior, at least in BT yellow, is a touch outre for my taste. I hear that the makeover is by the McLaren F1 designer Peter Stevens, but I can't be doing with spoilers and skirts. Haven't we moved on a little since the days of the Escort Cosworth?

But that's well over in the quibble column, and I have no others. I'm not one for jingoism, particularly when it comes to recommending that people spend pounds 18,595-20,495 of their own money on a car, but I can proudly give the all-British ZT a hearty thumbs-up (and the finger to ***).

Steve Lane, 43, graphic designer, from Dorking, Surrey. Drives a Mazda MX6

"Rover for me will always be associated with old men's cars and they have a hell of a bad reputation to overcome - but they've done a good job bearing in mind this is based on the 75. It seems well put together. It is good value, comfy enough and there's plenty of room, though it's nothing startling to look at. It would be better in black. It feels nice and tight to drive. If you were a rep and you needed a fast four-door car this would be on the shopping list."

Glen Padgham, 36, designer, from Dorking, Surrey. Drives a Caterham 7

"I don't like cars this big and I especially don't like the image of this one. People would think I was a wide boy if I drove this. It would be better without the spoilers; it's a bit gaudy. The interior is a lot better than the exterior and it is nice to drive, really good fun, a pleasant surprise, actually. I don't know who is going to buy it, though. I don't think they are going to tempt people away from ***s."

Robert Irving, 37, photographer, from Dorking, Surrey. Drives a Mercedes 230 estate,

"They've certainly made an effort to make it look cool, especially on the inside. It's a definite improvement on the Rover 75 and banana yellow is quite cool. I really warmed to it; it puts a smile on your face but it's not as fast as I thought it would be. There is no torque steer, which is impressive, and the steering is nicely weighted. The car rides very well, it feels confident, and the suspension is nice and firm. The bits you touch inside the car feel very well made. I'd choose this over a Jaguar X-Type, but I have three small children so I need something bigger than this."

Poor old Jaguar - hoorah for MG.
 
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