Vehicle Review - 2004 MG Rover ZT 260

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    MG Rover’s American twist: A Roush-tuned Ford V8 makes MG’s ZT 260 a blast

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    By MIKE DUFF
    (08:30 Dec. 29, 2003)

    PURE, UNCUT V8 SONG bounces back from the low-rise suburban housing that surrounds MG Rover’s Longbridge factory on the outskirts of Birmingham, England. It’s harmonious, turning heads and raising answering yowls from neighborhood dogs. It is also something you’re unlikely to hear too often in modern Europe, where the sound of performance motoring is increasingly the glasshouse-in-a-hurricane roar produced by high- output turbodiesels.

    The arrival of a new, V8-powered sport sedan comes as a rare, welcome event. It’s an event made rarer yet by the fact that this car, the MG ZT 260, doesn’t wear a premium German badge, and it extracts considerable performance from a prime chunk of American iron, a Ford twin-cam, 16-valve 4.6-liter V8. It has been built for Euro tastes by Roush Engineering before crossing the Atlantic (with a sharper throttle response), but otherwise serves in a relaxed state of tune: 256 hp backed up by 302 lb-ft of twist. (The “260” of the MG’s name comes from the European practice of quoting power with metric horses.)

    Why? Good question, though “why not?” would just about cover it. The 260’s purpose is twofold: to provide cheap V8 thrills to Europeans who can afford its 16-mpg fuel bills in the land of $4 per gallon gasoline. And also as a nyah-nyah riposte from MG Rover to its erstwhile parent, BMW.

    During the acrimonious divorce between these two companies a couple of years back, the newly independent MG Rover found itself without much of the family silverware. Munich, sensibly, kept Mini for itself. And the new Range Rover—developed at a cost of $1.6 billion—was given to Ford as part of Land Rover’s dowry. That left MGR with obsolescent Honda-based hatchbacks and the Rover 75, a dowdy, slow-selling upmarket sedan and station wagon based on the BMW 5 Series platform, but re-engineered with front-wheel drive and transverse engines.

    Badged and tuned MG versions of the 75 were rushed to market almost immediately, with a ZT sedan and ZT-T wagon. But that was only stopgap to get back at the Germans. Now it has completed the complicated process of re-re-engineering the car to the rear-drive configuration it was never meant to have, complete with the brawny Ford V8 engine and aggressive sports suspension. On the road, the 260’s hard-edged dynamic purpose is
    immediately apparent with ultrafirm suspension settings heaving over chunky British backroad tarmac. The flip side is its outstanding body control, with secondary harmonics never allowed the chance to build up.
    “We tried a BMW M5 and found it could be a bit soft,” says chief chassis engineer Andy Kitson with a straight face. “We did development work at the Nürburgring, where many cars show a basic lack of body control. But you can take this there and enjoy it straight out of the box.”

    No, he’s not joking.
    Though rural Warwickshire couldn’t match the thrill of taking Flugplatz flat in fifth, the slightly damp corners of the area prove the 260 has massive grip, a neutral front end and a nicely slideable tail. It’s not cop show oversteer; high limits must be breached before it arrives. But once into the zone it’s progressive, predictable and, most importantly, easily reeled back in. In twisty-road dynamics, the ZT 260 comes across as a slightly harder-edged M3/M5 hybrid for 330i money.

    Okay, now for some perspective: Open roads quickly prove that the MG can’t match the German über-sedans on raw performance. The Ford V8 is a big-hearted, friendly engine, but it has little appetite to rev beyond its 5000-rpm peak power point, the same place where the variably timed German engines really start to party. (A twin-turbo, 380-hp version of the ZT arrives next year to redress the balance.) It’s best to drive the standard 260 on its prodigious torque, especially as a manual Tremec tranny can still only offer a balky, awkward change. But the brakes are outstanding, with vast pizza-plate discs front and rear.

    Why won’t MG come to the States? To be fair, MG Rover hasn’t quite said it won’t, and plans are still in place to export. The new Qvale Mangusta-based MG X-Power supercar may well make it at some point in the not too distant future. The ZT’s engine is emissions compliant, and the mostly 5 Series crash structure should be capable of passing existing Federal tests.

    The simple, sad truth is that MG Rover is no longer big enough to make the sort of investment required for a U.S. launch, and sales predictions of 1000 units a year for the ZT 260 will be absorbed by the rest of the world. Too bad. A slightly softened version would be superb on U.S. roads, and far happier with U.S. gas prices.

    2004 MG ROVER MG ZT 260
    ON SALE: Now (Europe, Japan, Australia)
    BASE PRICE: $47,950 (current exchange rates)
    POWERTRAIN: 4.6-liter, 256-hp, 302-lb-ft V8; rwd, five-speed manual
    CURB WEIGHT: 3902 pounds
    0-60 MPH: 6.2 seconds

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  2. xxpanipuri

    xxpanipuri Gideeyup Motherfuckers....

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  3. KoukiS14

    KoukiS14 New Member

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    It's still pretty slow :big grin:
    but I like the new Rovers
     
  4. KoukiS14

    KoukiS14 New Member

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    also. . if they coulda used the 03 Cobra engine in that thing. .
    it'd own all :eek3:
     
  5. Omega6_Virus

    Omega6_Virus New Member

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    It's coming here? SWEET!
     
  6. M4A1

    M4A1 :)

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    Anymore pics?
     
  7. KoukiS14

    KoukiS14 New Member

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  8. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

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    That car's hilarious. Take a boring FWD car, add RWD and a V8 = win :big grin:
     

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