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New ZT rings true; It's more a case of evolution than revolution, but BILL CAVEN says this revised range should continue to be a sales winner for embattled MG.

Byline: BILL CAVEN

IF the motoring industry had an award for those who bravely battle on through adversity then it would surely be given to the MG Rover Group.

The British motoring marque have not exactly enjoyed the best of fortunes.

But through clever marketing and pricing of their existing models, as well as the introduction of special edition versions, they have successfully managed to keep the wolves from the door.

Amidst the doom and gloom that some pundits predicted would drag the company down, MG have shown remarkable resilience.

A few rays of sunshine have also broken through as sales of the ZT saloon and ZT-T estate grew substantially last year.

The number of cars rolling out of the showroom doors increased by an impressive 28 per cent, giving rise to the hope that the company had at last found a winning formula.

Now MG hope to keep this momentum going with a revised ZT range.

The more stylish new ZT is aimed at pleasing dedicated sports enthusiasts.

Visually the changes have been kept to a minimum in order not to frighten off existing customers.

The cosmetic surgery carried out is largely restricted to the front end, where the aerodynamic bumper integrates a new radiator grille configuration and halogen projector headlamps.

A clean-edge new rear bumper extends this modern theme, while the centrally placed model badging shows off the legendary MG sporting pedigree.

Smart new alloy wheels complete the exterior overhaul.

In the cabin, designers have also kept the number of alterations to a minimum.

Body-hugging sports seats remain the instant attraction, while the new instrument graphics are now backlit and illuminated in blue.

MG maintained from the outset that they wanted the ZT range to undergo evolution rather than a revolution.

They have been successful in that mission, as the car's appeal has been freshened up without it losing any of its character.

There is still a raft of powertrains from which to choose, ranging from the 1.8-litre turbo to the 2.5-litre V6 petrol units delivering 120PS to 190PS.

There is also the choice of a pair of two-litre diesels.

Performance-wise the ZT offers top speeds ranging from 112mph through to 140mph.

The 0-60mph sprints vary from just over seven seconds to just under 13 seconds.

However, if that doesn't impress you much then the awesome American-born 4.6-litre V8 surely will.

Originally found in the Ford Mustang, it ladles out 260PS, and we are talking serious pace as the new powerplant helps the MG go from rest to 62mph in six seconds.

A top speed of 155mph is also easily achievable where permitted, of course.

Costing a fiver shy of pounds 29,500, this is the rear--wheel-driven car for the real enthusiast who also happens to have deep pockets.

factfile

Model: MG ZT Engine: 1.8, 2.5 and 4.6-litre petrol; two-litre diesel Power: 116 to 260PS Top speed: 112 to155mph 0-60mph: 6.2 to 12.6 seconds Fuel economy: 21.5to 48.8mpg Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles Price: pounds 16,225 to pounds 34,490On sale: Now
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 27, 2004
Words:516
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