The MG ZR is a compact automobile first introduced in 2001 by the MG Rover Group. It is specifically a hot hatch, a badge-engineered Rover 25, with a number of useful suspension modifications and design features to appeal to younger drivers. From 2003 a van version, called the MG Express was also offered.
All ZRs came with a choice of bright metallic shades and can even be factory specified with "flip" paint, which changes colour depending on the direction from which it is viewed. They feature multiple spoke oversize alloy wheels on low profile tyres, a body kit, race-style spoiler and chrome exhaust garnishes as well as side skirts, all as standard.
The purposeful appearance of the new MG ZR is complemented by a new front design, dominated by a bold new grille, its surround painted to match the body colour and incorporating bright finish mesh, finished with the traditional MG octagon badge.
The ZR is a particularly attractive "hot hatch", built in 3- and 5-door body styles and available in a variety of engines and trim levels, to cater for market needs. Involving performance is guaranteed - whether the ZR is powered by the 1.4-litre K Series, L Series turbo diesel, 1.8-litre K Series in manual or Stepspeed transmission. The top performing model is the ZR 160 with the verve of the 160Ps 1.8-litre K Series with Variable Valve Control that also powers the MGF Trophy 160 SE.
All ZR’s feature body coloured exterior items; side rubbing strips, door handles and mirrors, bumper inserts, tailgate lift, aerodynamic tailgate spoilers, front and rear bib spoilers. Black headlamp bezels and bright mesh main and lower grilles complete the distinctive appearance. ZR is tuned with a sporting chassis set-up for agile and responsive cornering dynamics. Rapid steering response, throttle adjustability and direct steering feedback are all key to the driver enjoyment of this "pocket-rocket". The ZRs also feature a low ride-height, sports rated front and rear springs and next-generation’ Delphi high technology dampers give a composed ride and handling balance.
ABS is standard on 1.8 models, with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and available as an option on other MG ZR models. Large front 282mm and 260mm rear discs on the range-topping ZR 160 gives an impressive stopping performance. ZR models have a sleeved single bright exhaust pipe, with the ZR 160 housing twin sleeved exhaust pipes within a stainless steel heatshield. MG ZR has form-hugging sports front seats and definitive MG interior style cues in trim, instrumentation and controls.
ZR+ models feature enhancements over and above the already high standard of ZR equipment specification. Remote central door locking, electric front windows and door mirrors, electric sunroof, drivers seat height & lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel, front fog lights and a leather and alloy gearknob make for an impressive specification.
The range-topping ZR 160 has more. Powered by the 160Ps K Series VVC engine and includes a close ratio gearbox, it has more standard features over the ZR+. Twin wide-bore exhaust tailpipes with heatshield, large brakes, 17" "Straights" sports alloy wheels with 205/45 R17 tyres and sculpted side sill finishers complete the exterior design. The ZR 160 also features air conditioning, a volumetric alarm and "Monaco" part leather sports seats, influenced by exterior body colour, to provide a sports experience interior.
In 2003, an MG Express, version of the ZR was introduced - effectively a fast 2-seater van. In 2004, the ZR was facelifted with the rest of the MG Rover range. The front and rear design changes increased the differences between the ZR and Rover 25. The 2004 model also received a revised interior with new seat materials and a new dash design incorporating climate control on certain models.
Other tweaks to the range include the MG ZR Trophy featuring a sunroof, 16 inch ’Grid-spoke’ alloys, new rear light clusters, leather steering wheel and side sill and rear bumper extensions.
In 2004, MG Rover did announce plans for a new car to replace the ZR and its Rover twin, the 25. It was hoped that the new cars could be on sale before the end of 2006. But in April 2005, MG Rover’s proposed takeover by SAIC collapsed and the company went into receivership. MG Rover’s new owners Nanjing Automobile do not plan to make the ZR when Longbridge re-opens in early 2007, though there are plans for a replacement entry-level MG car which is expected to go on sale in late 2008.
With sporty good looks, the MG ZR turns heads standing still and on the move. The bumper and sill extensions provide that muscular stance, whilst the new funky rear light clusters on the Trophy and Trophy SE models and alloy wheels add those finishing touches you’d expect from MG.
Feedback is the key to enjoyment. Lowered and stiffened springs help keep you, your car and the road working in harmony. ZR’s taut body control and dampers mean grip and steering precision is always optimised. Revised suspension settings ensure high-speed stability and brilliant steering response.
MG ZR Trophy
The new MG ZR Trophy features a sunroof, 16 inch ’Grid-spoke’ alloys, new funky rear light clusters, perforated leather steering wheel and side sill and rear bumper extensions. A CD Tuner tops things off and makes for a thrilling driving experience.
MG ZR Trophy SE
Want more? MG ZR Trophy SE comes with air conditioning, front fog lamps, electric door mirrors, driver’s height and lumbar support adjustment, those trademark rear lamps and an integral MP3 player.