MG ZS (2001)

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ManufacturerMG (MG Rover)
AssemblyUnited Kingdom: Longbridge, Birmingham
Body and chassis
ClassSmall family car (C)
Body style
LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel-drive
PredecessorMG Montego
2002 MG ZS 120 (hatchback)
2003 MG ZS 180 (saloon)
2004 MG ZS 180 Saloon (facelift)

The MG ZS is a sports family car that was built by MG Rover from 2001 until 2005. The ZS is essentially a tuned version of the Rover 45 (which was launched in 1999). The 45 in turn is a facelifted version of the Rover 400 which was launched in hatchback form in 1995 and saloon form in 1996, which in turn was derived from the Honda Domani.


The model was rapidly created from the Rover 45 after BMW sold off Rover in April 2000. Development of the model was greatly accelerated by the fact that Rover had already created 400 Series prototypes of the car using V6 engines and sporting suspension setups. In fact, MG Rover developed MG versions of all three Rover cars on sale at the time.

The Rover 45 donor car did not have a reputation for being a driver's car, but in fact it was the most suitable car in the Rover range for making into the MG ZS, its Honda heritage providing double wishbone front suspension and fully independent multi link rear suspension.

As a Rover, the 45 was optimised for comfort rather than handling – however, as an MG the opposite was the case. The ZS 180, offering 175 bhp (130 kW; 177 PS) from the 2.5 L V6 engine and acceleration to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, received favourable reviews in the press, with particular praise for its steering, handling and suspension.

Setting the ZS apart from most rivals was the V6 configuration, when most of its rivals were using turbocharged engines.[1]

Variants and updates[edit]

Facelift MG ZS 180 (sedan)

The non-appearance of RD/X60 meant that in the first few months the MGZS was facelifted with the help of the car designer Peter Stevens (together with the rest of the MG Rover range) which introduced a new clear one-piece headlight, new bumpers and a flush tailgate/boot lid with the number plate relocated to the rear bumper together with new wheel designs, colours and a revised interior with climate control using parts from Zonda and Lamborghini, and with all ZS models an optional body kit which was derived from the MG XPower SV was fitted as standard on the ranging topping ZS180.

The retro design cues adopted when the 400 became the 45 were dropped, for the first time the Rover 45 and MG ZS became noticeably different looking cars.

The MG ZS ceased production in April 2005, on the collapse of MG Rover Group (See John Towers: Rover), and the rights to make the car were soon repossessed by Honda, who owned the rights to the original design from 1995.

The Chinese automaker Nanjing Automobile acquired the Longbridge plant and the MG marque for £53 million ($97 million), Nanjing Automobile formally established NAC MG UK Limited as a holding company for the plant and marque on 12 April 2006.

In 2009 the MG ZS was shown at the Shanghai Auto show badged as an MG5, after MG Rover had ceased, but that never made it to production.


Performance data for the MG ZS range:

Model Engine Power Torque 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) Top speed
ZS105 (Republic of Ireland and Portugal only) 1.4 L K-Series 102 hp (76 kW; 103 PS) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (91 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 10.1 sec 110 mph (177 km/h)
ZS110 1.6 L K-Series 107 hp (80 kW; 108 PS) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (101 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 9.8 sec 119 mph (192 km/h)
ZS120 1.8 L K-Series 115 hp (86 kW; 117 PS) at 5500 rpm 160 N·m (118 ft·lbf) at 2750 rpm 9.0 sec 122 mph (196 km/h)
ZS120 Auto 9.9 sec 115 mph (185 km/h)
ZS180 2.5 L KV6 175 hp (130 kW; 177 PS) at 6500 rpm 240 N·m (177 ft·lbf) at 4000 rpm 7.3 sec 139 mph (224 km/h)
ZS TD 2.0 L L-Series 99 hp (74 kW; 100 PS) at 4200 rpm 240 N·m (177 ft·lbf) at 2000 rpm 10.3 sec 116 mph
ZS TD 115 111 hp (83 kW; 113 PS) at 4200 rpm 260 N·m (191 ft·lbf) at 2000 rpm 9.5 sec 120 mph (193 km/h)

ZS 180[edit]

MG ZS 180 Saloon in Trophy Blue
MG ZS 180, with no cost option smaller standard size boot lid spoiler

The MG ZS 180 was the flagship car of the ZS range. It was available as a five-door hatch or a four-door saloon. The 180 included a number of changes over the standard ZS, as well as incorporating all of the features of the ZS+ models, the ZS 180 was equipped with a lightweight all alloy 2.5-litre Rover KV6 Engine, with quad cams and twenty four valves.

The 180 features uprated front and rear brakes, with 282 mm (11.1 in) front discs (up from 262 mm (10.3 in)) and 260 mm (10.2 in) rear discs (up from 240 mm (9.4 in)) as well as ABS and EBD,[2] lowered sports suspension with uprated springs and dampers, uprated bushes fitted to front upper and rear trailing arms,[2] 17-inch sports alloy wheels with 205/45 R17 tyres.[2]

Externally, the 180 can be identified with deep front bumper, with front bib spoiler and fog lamps and sculptured side sills. A large rear spoiler could be substituted for a standard size as a no cost option.[2]

2003 MG ZS 180 cabin, with optional Trophy blue trim
2003 MG ZS 180 (boot lid badges)

The 180 was facelifted in 2004, along with the rest of the range, and gained a bodykit inspired by the MG Xpower SV.

The kit incorporated wheel arch extensions with front wing vents, bumper spats and side skirts. The large 'Extreme' rear spoiler became optional, with a subtle lip boot spoiler fitted as standard. Complementing the new bodykit were the new 17-inch 'eleven spokes' alloy wheels. Both the wheels and bodykit were available as cost options on the rest of the range.

The MG ZS 180's 2.5-litre (2497 cc) V6 engine produces 177 PS (130 kW; 175 bhp) at 6,500 rpm and 240 N⋅m (177 lb⋅ft) at 4,000 rpm, giving a 0 to 60 mph time of 7.3 seconds, and a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h), with a combined fuel economy reading of 29 mpg.[3]


Rob Collard's MG ZS 2006

The MGZS was raced in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) from 2001 to 2008. The West Surrey Racing (WSR) team enjoyed 'works' status for several years and initially ran cars with a two-litre version of the Rover KV6 engine, later switching to four cylinder JUDD engine which was heavy modified K-Series which had a capacity of 2.0 Litres (the largest production K series engine was 1.8 Litres).

Ex WSR V6 cars have appeared in other hands, and a 'junior team' was run in during 2002.

MG BTCC drivers to date have been:

Year Team Drivers
2001 (partial season) MG Sport and Racing (WSR) Anthony Reid (2), Warren Hughes (20)
2002 MG Sport and Racing (WSR) Anthony Reid, Warren Hughes
2002 Team Atomic Kitten (semi-works junior team) Colin Turkington, Gareth Howell
2003 MG Sport and Racing (WSR) Anthony Reid, Warren Hughes, Colin Turkington
2004 West Surrey Racing Anthony Reid, Colin Turkington
2004 Kartworld Racing Jason Hughes
2005 West Surrey Racing Rob Collard
2005 (Partial Season) Kartworld Racing Jason Hughes
2006 Team RAC (WSR) Rob Collard, Colin Turkington
2006 Kartworld Racing Jason Hughes
2007 Kartworld Racing Jason Hughes, Fiona Leggate
2008 KW Racing (Kartworld Racing renamed) Jason Hughes

What the press said[edit]

"Drive a ZS180 back to back with a Golf V5, probably the sportiest of the line, and the Rover (based car) stomps all over the Volkswagen, its steering, chassis and engine beating the German into submission over the sort of lumpen road surfaces that make up the British B road"[4]

"Of all the cars transformed by Rover's engineers, this motor is perhaps the most remarkable, as it turned the originally rather dowdy 45 into a fire breathing super saloon"[5]

"When young lads start lusting after what's basically a rebodied and reengineered Rover 45, it's obviously something special. It is no exaggeration to claim that the MG ZS 180 was the biggest surprise of the lot when the new range was launched in summer 2001."[6]

"At first glance it might appear to be a simple case of badge engineering, but the transformation from ageing Rover 45 to exciting MG ZS is a lot more than simply swapping metal monikers. Beneath the wire-meshed MG nose and bespoilered tail lies a lot of skilful engineering by Longbridge’s finest."[7]


  1. ^ Evo magazine March 2002 Archived 2011-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d Mg Rover technical bulletin TB0027
  3. ^ "MG ZS Saloon 2.5 (180ps) 4d – Facts and Figures". Parkers. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. ^ "MG ZS (2001 - 2005) used car review". 10 October 2005. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  5. ^ "MG Rover 45". Auto Express. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  6. ^ "MG ZS 180 review". Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  7. ^ "MG ZS+". January 2003. Retrieved 1 December 2017.

External links[edit]