MG ZS 180 Five-Door | CARkeys

28 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on MG ZS 180 Five-Door | CARkeys


180 Five-Door review

I covered the steps to the front door in a single bound and crossed the jolly old threshold with the air of one who feels that God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world. Standing in the hallway I beheld Jeeves, my valet, looking like a man who had recently concluded a telephone conversation. And so it proved.

Good afternoon, sir, said the honest fellow. Your Aunt Agatha has just called. She desires communication with you at your earliest convenience.

What do aunts matter at a time like this, Jeeves? I said. I’ve just taken delivery of the latest test car. Come and have a look. I think you’ll like it.

Indeed, sir? And what do we have this week? Not another smart. I trust?

No, Jeeves, not a smart. This one’s an MG ZS.

Jeeves raised one eyebrow perhaps an eighth of an inch, which is the nearest he ever gets to expressing emotion. Most interesting, sir. I have always had a fondness for MGs.

I thought you might. Let’s go outside and have a tootle in it, if you’re not too busy.

We had not progressed more than a step from the front door when Jeeves froze in his tracks. The expression on his face, normally that of a loyal manservant, now more closely resembled a gaffed salmon. I had expected some such reaction.

This particular MG was of such noticeable aspect that I imagined he would consider it unseemly to be seen driving one, and Jeeves is very hot on seemliness.

Yellow, isn’t it? I said. Er, a similar shade to that rather nifty rally jacket of mine, I went on, bringing into the conversation an item of clothing which had lately been the cause of some friction within the household.

Jeeves, notoriously hidebound and reactionary in sartorial matters, has never hidden his loathing of the object, but I fell in love with it at first sight and will brook no criticism of the thing.

Come on, Jeeves, I continued, you may speak freely. Your first impression is not favourable, is it? You view this car askance.

It is very, ah, obvious, sir, Jeeves said, disapprovingly. I perceive that beneath the yellowness to which you allude, to say nothing of the multi-spoke alloy wheels and the large rear spoiler, this is au fond a Rover 45. The expression ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ springs irresistibly to mind.

Well, I like it, I said stoutly. Let’s put a few miles on the clock and then you can tell me what you think.

We clambered aboard, myself enthusiastically, Jeeves with perceptible reluctance. I fired up the 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine and set off at a considerable rate of mph, revelling in the acceleration and accompanying sound effects. Sort of a muffled thundering, if you see what I mean.

Rather jolly, Jeeves, what? I exclaimed as we sped along. One puts this machine’s performance to the test and it is not found wanting. Overtaking, as I now demonstrate, is the simplest of matters.

See, we missed that oncoming lorry by a considerable distance.

Several inches, sir, Jeeves agreed. However, my immediate concern, if I may say so, is not the vehicle’s accelerative capabilities but its ride quality. With your permission, I may make a telephone call to my cousin when we return home.

He is an osteopath, and I would welcome his services.

It is a bit stiff, now you mention it. I wonder if your cousin offers discounts for bulk ordering? I may require some attention myself.

Why on earth do motor manufacturers insist on making their sportier models so dashed uncomfortable?

Possibly to fool potential customers into believing that the cars handle more ably than is in fact the case, sir. However, I entertain a suspicion that there is more to this vehicle’s set-up than is at first apparent. I wonder if I might be permitted to take the wheel for a short while?

Feel free, Jeeves, I said, zipping into a parking space with the help of the excellent brakes. We swapped positions in a trice and Jeeves prepared to set off.

Comfortable, I trust? I said, concerned for the chap’s well-being.

Not entirely, sir. The seats are noticeably firm. But they offer useful lateral support which I feel may be of benefit.

We trundled off, and within a few miles Jeeves turned off the main road into a fast and winding country lane, along which we progressed smoothly but rapidly.

It is very much as I had expected, sir, Jeeves commented after a couple of mins. The rear suspension, which contributes most to the unpleasant ride, appears to have been designed to reduce grip. The effect is not so marked as to permit the car to go sideways unless driven particularly badly, but it does shift the balance of grip to the front, allowing for remarkable turn-in ability.

If I might demonstrate, sir. You will notice that we are approaching a tight corner. I observe that the road is clear, allowing good progress to be made through the bend, and now.


Good Lord, Jeeves! We shot round the left-hander with remarkable dispatch but almost no apparent effort. Jeeves had merely tweaked the steering wheel for a moment and then straightened up, while the MG simply sat there without the merest hint of a shimmy.

I apologise if I caused you momentary inconvenience, sir.

Not at all, Jeeves. The dizziness will no doubt pass. I must say this MG is considerably more than a sheep in wolf’s clothing, what?

It is a very impressive machine, sir. In, if I may say so, the right hands. Although in many ways not practicable for daily road use, it has evidently been engineered by persons of appreciable talent.

And what of your own talent, Jeeves? I had no idea you could drive so quickly.

In my youth I dabbled in motor racing to some extent, sir. It is not a dignified hobby for one in my present position, but I enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.

You know, Jeeves, I mused, considering all your previously hidden knowledge on the subject, perhaps I should ask you to scan through those little articles I write about these cars. I alluded, of course, to my contributions to my Aunt Dahlia’s website,

I do, sir. Before they are e-mailed to the publishers I check them and make the necessary alterations, and where appropriate add observations of my own.

I hope you consider this acceptable.

For a moment I felt slightly miffed. I had never realised what the blighter was up to, for the simple reason that I never went online to check that what appeared on the site was the same as what I had written. I realised that his intervention explained an unusual phenomenon, viz. that the fellows at the Drones Club seemed to regard me as something of an authority on motoring matters despite considering me a frightful ass in all other aspects.

I began to feel less miffed.

Er, quite acceptable, Jeeves, I said after considering the position. In fact, I really owe you a vote of thanks for this. I wonder if I can do something for you in return. oh, dash it, Jeeves, I know you disapprove of that yellow rally jacket of mine.

My heart aches at the suggestion, but consider yourself at liberty to burn the bally thing.

You are most kind, sir. I have in fact already done so. Thank you, sir.

Second opinion . One of the most enjoyable things about this car is that it doesn’t have a turbo. That smooth, non-peaky rush of power, and the mean exhaust note as the revs rise, are just fine by me. Excellent performance, really precise turn-in under pressure, and very strong brakes. The test car’s colour scheme was absolutely shrieking, but I saw several other equally egg-yolk MGs during the time I had it.

There’s an all too familiar Rover interior, despite those hip-hugging front seats. The ride may be jolting on poorish road surfaces, but those are the kind we often get in return for our contributions to the Treasury and local authorities. On German roads, the ZS 180 suspension would probably seem supple enough. On many Spanish ones too.

Regarding the wacky rear spoiler, I wonder what’s the ratio between the need for aerodynamic effect at brisk road speeds and a desire for Gorblimey – look at that! Ross Finlay .

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