Car Review, Figures and Specs for the MG ZR 1.8i VVC 160 - [2001]

MG ZR - Review

MG ZR - Ageing Rover to Sporty MG

The MG arm of Rover miraculously transformed the already ageing Rover 25 base into a sporty driver’s car named ZR as part of it’s current ‘Z’ range which also included the ZS and ZT. The MG ZR was one of Britain's most popular hot hatchbacks throughout its production life, and in 2004 was MG Rover's best selling car. The car was made until 2005. The popularity of the ZR was due in part to it’s sporty looks and funky colour options (‘Atomix’ flip paint). The team at MG who also transformed the handling of the ZS to be one of the best handling front drive saloons in its range, did a commendable job with the ZR too. Whilst its handling, looks and performance were praised by reviewers, other well documented woes of the ZR were part of nail in the proverbial coffin for Rover MG.


Range topping 160.

The ZR came with a number of engine variants ranging from the ZR 105 (1.4l 102 bhp) and ZR 120 (1.8l 115 bhp) models which were based on the Rover K series engine. There were also two diesel variants of the ZR, the ZR TD 100 and ZR TD 115 which came with the same 2.0 L series engine, the 115 had minor performance enhancements like an improved ECU map to produce 111 bhp (83 kW; 113 PS). Also using the K series engine but with VVC (Variable Valve Control) and other tweaks was the range topping ZR 160 producing 159 bhp (119 kW; 161 PS) and 174 N•m (128 lb•ft) torque giving a 0 to 60 mph of a respectable 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph (211 km/h).

Popular Track Day Hack.

The ZR 160 featured front and rear disc brakes and 17 inch ‘Straights’ alloy wheels as standard. Often described as ‘Rorty’, the K series engine was definitely the ZR’s weakest point and the VVC version was no exception despite sharing this unit with the MG-F and having an improved cylinder head design. The well publicised head gasket nightmare that bequeaths the K series overshadows the lightweight, powerful and revvy positives of this engine. The handling, whilst not as well rated as its bigger brother, the ZS, the smaller ZR still has a firm and sporty yet comfortable riding experience. The ZR is still a popular hot hatch and gaining popularity with track day and MG enthusiasts as it gets rarer. Over time we think the ZR will become a popular classic particularly as established MG enthusiast parts distributors cater for it. Head gasket fixes and performance tuning options will surely elongate the ZR’s lifespan


Positive  Handling, Cheap Track Day Fun, Funky Colours.

Negatives  Tendency to blow a gasket or two.

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