MG ZS180 REVIEW

Don’t miss out on this performance bargain - If you’re after a 175bhp 2.5 litre V6 super-saloon for less than £1000 look no further.

In what was a turbulent time for MG Rover, they managed to produce one of the most underrated cars of the era. Often critiqued for its old-man image, Rover needed to sell to a younger audience. It had to be sportier for the younger market, so the suspension was modified, as was the exterior, and MG got their very own V6 that the Rover 45 (which the ZS is based on) didn’t. What came out of it was a massive leap forward, and one that’s extremely cheap now.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

ENGINE                      2497cc/6-cyl/DOHC

POWER                       175bhp@6500rpm

TORQUE                     170lb ft@2750pm

MAXIMUM SPEED         139mph

0-60MPH                    7.3sec

ECONOMY                  30-35mpg

TRANSMISSION         FWD, five-speed manual

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Cambelt changes can cost upwards of £500, so check to see if it’s been changed. It should be changed every 90,000 miles. Definitely worth picking up a higher mileage car with the belt changed, especially as there are examples out there that have survived 200,000 miles. A belt change should be accompanied by a water pump change, preferably with an after market steel impeller, and not a plastic one that came with the car originally.

 

The Security Control unit in Rovers and MGs built between 2003 and 2005 can misbehave – rendering the car undrivebale. This commonly involves minor faults like the horn not working to cause a problem with the security system, which can lead to the immobiliser kicking in. By now a car would have probably had the work done to it. If not, new parts and labour can cost anywhere between £350 - £700.

 

Generally there isn’t much to worry about with the brakes but it’s worthwhile they are checked, as they’re prone to warping. If the clutch is high on the test drive don’t be put off – assembly kits can be had for less than £90. Brakes should be sharp and punchy, if not new pads can be had for around £50. As parts are cheap, it could be worthwhile to use these as bargaining tools if you’re trying to bag yourself a bargain.

 

Corrosion within the clutch release bearing can lead to the mechanism becoming stiff. Tell tale signs can include clutch shudder, and it can make the plastic slave cylinder to fail. Can get pricey to fix as this involves removal of the gearbox. Worth checking to see if it’s been fixed before.

 

As this is a performance car, it will have been driven hard at one point in its life. Especially as it’s phenomenally cheap, check the tyres are in good condition, as these can be expensive to replace. While you’re looking at tyres closely inspect any panels that look like they’ve had a bodge repair done to them, numerous MG ZS180s will have seen the wrong side of a hedge.

 

The MG came with a spoilers, wings and big alloy wheels. These may have been subject to change over the years, so it’s worth looking at whether any modifications have been made, and how well they’ve been completed. Some cars may have been hit with the lowering stick – so check for stone chips as well as suspension related issued. Suspension bushes are made of polyurethane instead of rubber so should be hard wearing.

OUR VERDICT

The appeal of a fast and practical car remains strong for people wanting to move their friends and family in a rush. Just look at the prices of BMW M5s lately and it’s very apparent that practicality and speed results in high price.

This is not true with the MG ZS180.It may not be the last word in refinement – interiors are particularly lackluster, but they’re still incredibly good value and very undervalued.

They’re pretty much at the bottom of their price curve and are only going to get more expensive once they become rarer – so now’s the time to buy one.

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