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MG ZS mk2 with full bodykit.jpg
Manufacturer MG (MG Rover)
Production 2001–2005
Assembly United Kingdom: Longbridge, Birmingham
United Kingdom: Cowley, Oxford
Body and chassis
Class Small family car (C)
Layout FF layout
Related Rover 45
Engine 1.4 L K-Series Straight-4 - Ireland only
1.6 L K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L K-Series Straight-4
2.5 L KV6 V6
2.0 L "Rover L-Series engine" Straight-4
Predecessor MG Montego
Successor MG6
2002 MG ZS 120 hatchback
2003 MG ZS 180 saloon
2004 MG ZS180 Saloon facelift

The MG ZS is a sports family car that was built by MG 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. The earlier version of the 400 (Rover 400 Mk 1) was significantly different to the Mk 2 model. The 45 (Mk 1) had no parts based on the Mk 1 400.


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 transformation into an MG, 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 MG ZS 180, offering 175 bhp (130 kW; 177 PS) from the 2.5 L V6 engine and acceleration to 60 mph in 7.2 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 turbochargers. This added to the aural appeal of the ZS, and added to the desirability of the model MG ZS 180.[1]

Variants and updates[edit]

Facelift MG ZS 180 sedan

A successor to the Rover 45/MG ZS (known internally as RD/X60) was under development in the early 2000s. This was to have been based on a shortened Rover 75 floorplan, and was to appear in saloon, hatchback and 'tourer' (estate) bodystyles. Chassis development was being undertaken by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, and ceased when TWR collapsed. The non appearance of RD/X60 meant that the ZS was facelifted, and continued in production until the demise of MG Rover.

In the first few months of 2004, the ZS was facelifted with the rest of the range of MG Rover. The retro design cues adopted when the 400 became the 45 were mostly dropped. For the first time, the Rover 45 and MG ZS became noticeably different looking cars, all the ZS models had the option of being bodykitted with a kit derived from the MG XPower SV, but this must be bought at the time of purchase, and was a cost option. The cars from the 2004MY also received a revised interior with new seat materials, a new dash design incorporating climate control on the model ZS120+, and the range topping modelMG ZS 180.

The MG ZS ceased production in April 2005, on the collapse of Rover Group and MG Rover (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.

Nanjing Automobile of China bought the remaining assets of MG Rover in July 2005. SAIC Motor had previously acquired some intellectual property rights from MG Rover, so the Chinese Government merged the two companies together, which resulted in the rebirth of MG as MG Motor UK Ltd. They then designed a new model in China, announced in 2009 as the MG6.[2] Built in China and assembled by MG Motor UK at the old MG Rover Longbridge plant, sales started in 2011.


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) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (91 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 10.1 110 mph (177 km/h)
ZS110 1.6 L K-Series 107 hp (80 kW) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (101 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 9.8 119 mph (192 km/h)
ZS120 1.8 L K-Series 115 hp (86 kW) at 5500 rpm 160 N·m (118 ft·lbf) at 2750 rpm 9.0 122 mph (196 km/h)
ZS120 Auto 1.8 L K-Series 115 hp (86 kW) at 5500 rpm 160 N·m (118 ft·lbf) at 2750 rpm 9.9 115 mph (185 km/h)
ZS180 2.5 L KV6 175 bhp, 177 ps (130 kW) at 6500 rpm 240 N·m (177 ft·lbf) at 4000 rpm 7.3 139 mph (224 km/h)
ZS TD (discontinued when facelifted) 2.0 L L-Series 99 hp (74 kW) at 4200 rpm 240 N·m at 2000 rpm 10.3 116 mph
ZS TD 115 2.0 L L-Series 111 hp (83 kW) at 4200rpm 260 N·m (191 ft·lbf) at 2000 rpm 9.5 120 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 alterations over and above the standard models of 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.

Uprated front and rear brakes 282mm front discs (up from 262mm) and 260mm rear discs (up from 240mm) as well as ABS and EBD,[3] lowered sports suspension with uprated springs and dampers, uprated bushes fitted to front upper and rear trailing arms,[3] 17" sports alloy wheels with 205/45 r17 tyres.[3]

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.[3]

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

The MG ZS 180's 2.5 litre (2497 cc) V6 engine producing 177 PS (130 kW; 175 bhp) & 6500rpm with 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) @ 4000rpm. Giving a 0 to 60 mph of 7.3sec, and a top speed of 139 mph (224 km/h) with a combined fuel economy reading of twenty nine mpg.[4]


Main article: BTC-T MG ZS EX259
Rob Collard's MG ZS 2006

The ZS has been raced in the British Touring Car Championship 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 K-series derived two-litre engines (the largest production K-series engine was 1.8 litres).

Ex WSR V6 cars have appeared in other hands, and an 'junior team' was run in during 2002. The first three sessions as the official MG works team, and the other sessions under different sponsors.

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"[5]

"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"[6]

"When young lads start lusting after what's basically a re-bodied and re-engineered 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."[7]

"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."[8]


  1. ^ Evo magazine March 2002
  2. ^ Holloway, Hilton (2010-01-29). "MG6 to go on sale in the UK". Autocar. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d Mg Rover technical bulletin TB0027
  4. ^ "MG ZS Saloon 2.5 (180ps) 4d – Facts and Figures". Parkers. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "".  External link in |title= (help);
  6. ^ "".  External link in |title= (help);
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External links[edit]