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Byron once wrote that the English winter ended in July and began again in August. As an MG ZT190 owner I hope the good Lord got it wrong.

When I ran our long-term Honda S2000 I yearned for summer obvious reasons, but since I’ve taken over the ZT I’ve felt much the same, because a miserable December, January and February hasn’t brought out the best in this car.

For starters, low speed traction isn’t the ZT’s strongest suit. We’ve written at length bout the fine job MGR has done on their range-toppers chassis, but when the going gets slippery the car starts to struggle, I’ve spent winter wheel spinning out of damp T-junctions and cursing MG’s decision not to offer traction control like its sister Rover75’s given that the car must shovel nearly 187bhp through its 18” front wheels. Turns out the ZT was developed so swiftly in the aftermath of MG’s revival that there simply wasn’t time to hone a bespoke system for what is, after all, a very different beast.

But our winter of discontent continued when the ZT’s headlights (the Zenon pack was a £600 option) appeared to be set too low, making anything other than full beam progress on dark country lanes tricky. It transpired that the automatic adjustment system, designed to alter the height of the beam depending on how conditions vary under loading, wasn’t working. Our local dealer, Kingsbury’s of Hampton Hill, south west London, picked the car up to correct the fault under warranty and returned it washed the same day. But they couldn’t do anything about the weedy aircon (*** sourced – Ed) – too slow to heat up in winter – and the absence of a boot handle, which means grimy fingers it’s touched in this winter. Ironic that design chief Peter Stevens lists this as one of his “five automotive hate” in the promotional literature handed out with the car.
These are all seasonal irritations rather than long-term flaws, though, and in the end don’t detract from the daily pleasure of ownership. More mileage has not only vindicated our enthusiasm for the ZT’s handling and steering, but also increased our appreciation of its less obvious talents. Like the super-adjustable driving position and he quality feel of Alcantara-trimmed interior; heavy to first time ZT drivers but quickly becoming second nature; and the stiff but brilliantly damped ride, which really comes into its own off urban blacktop.

Performance is improving as the KV6 engine gets more miles under its pistons, but remains solid rather than sparkling. The power plant actually feels quite flat below 3,500 rpm (same feeling as on my previous R75 – Ed) but rev it harder and it responds with stronger mid-range acceleration and a delicious growl. Nor does this damage the ZT’s refinement. It’s still capable of entertaining on the twisty stuff and cosseting you on longer journeys, as a recent 400-mile round rip to Merseyside proved.

You’re more conscious of how hard the engine works when you reach the pumps. Our car routinely returns low-20’s mpg figures, which means we’re seeing only 250 miles between fill-ups (Ed – That’s 100 miles more than the EVO VII!). Forgivable in a more extreme performance machine like an Impreza, say, but irritating in an all rounder like this.

Overall, though, we feel much the same about the ZT as we did when we voted it into out Top 10 new car list last December. I’m already feeling apprehensive about giving it up at the one-year stage next autumn. And that’s why I have no arguments with the single-word summary posted in out ZT’s long-term logbook by its last driver. “Brilliant”.

By Rob Aherne of Autocar. Issue March 13 2002.
 

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Former ZT-T 260 owner
Joined
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2,256 Posts
Nearly had mine for 4 months now, so feel qualified to comment...

Grip - Agreed that traction in ice is a problem... Those that know my recent history will know what I mean... :(

However, if you drive sensibly away from junctions you can easily pull away quickly from junctions in the wet.. I would suggest mr reviewer gets some lessons in car control... Reminds me of a certain driven review...

Xenon lamps, minor problem, could happen with any car with them fitted. Pesonally, I think the lights are brill, certainly much better than on brothers Scoob STi...

Economy.. I can't believe people still worry about this on the ZT. If you want economy, buy a 1 litre diesel. If you buy a 2.5 litre V6, you have to expect it to be a bit thirsty. Agreed that it does need revving to get the best out of it, but then no-one complains about that with the S2000 or civic type r....

Oh, and seeing as I regularly drive in brothers Impreza, I have to say it is significatly more economical than that (both his old one and his new one), so I'm not sure where that's coming from.

Overall, they obviously like it, so I wonder if these points they've picked up on are nit-picking because they have to find something wrong....
 
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