MG ZT 260 – PistonHeads

23 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on MG ZT 260 – PistonHeads


Graham Bell tries out most powerful saloon.

It that no sooner had the Rover come back under ownership than the company set injecting some real appeal into its rather range of saloons with sporty looking accessories, beefed up suspension and some MG

And the most extreme example of trend to date is the ZT 260, has seen MG’s engineers that prime example of transport, the Rover 75, and junk the floorpan in favour of a new one that accommodate rear wheel and a big V8.

Sadly the budget didn’t run to a new Rover V8 to add to the existing K-Series pot and V6 engines, so like many British performance cars the years the ZT 260 gets its motive courtesy of Ford USA.

the ZT 260 is mechanically very different to its wheel drive siblings, little to distinguish it visually, just a couple of discreet V8 below the side repeaters and an pair of tail pipes.

much the same story too, with just ranges on the oval speedo and and a small V8 badge below the giving the game away.

the rest of the ZT range, the 260 replaces the 75’s wooden dash a metallic grey one and uses of black trim and some bolstered ‘sports’ seats to add to the image.

Those seats are very and fully adjustable including rake and lumbar support, in combination with the adjustable column and … ahead should provide a good position for most people, there’s no room alongside the pedal to rest your foot.

However, being from a car designed to be driven by in hats there’s no shortage of in the front, while being a saloon it’s quite for average size adults in the too.

Interior storage for the usual knick-knacks isn’t as as it first appears due to the glove box and console offering space far than their lids suggest, but at least the door are a useful size.

As too is the boot, if you do find it’s not big enough you can gain some extra by folding the back of the rear down. And if that’s still not there’s always the ZT-T version…

Drive the ZT 260 and the first you notice is the disappointing lack of characteristic Yank V8 rumble at low Instead you get a sound that’s as as the 260’s looks and from to it you’d never know was a big V8 under the bonnet.

The second thing you notice is the ZT feels like it has very suspension. This is duly by pressing down on the corners of the and finding that it staunchly to budge.

As on front wheel ZTs, the 260’s front uses MacPherson struts forged alloy track arms, though virtually component has been changed, new uprights, relocated steering and an anti-roll bar that looks big to have come off a truck.

The end is completely different though, the usual BMW derived Z-axle replaced by a unique multi-link At the heart of this is a Hydratrak LSD is mounted via rubber bushes to a pressed, part tubular subframe that looks to be mounted to the body shell. from this are large alloy lower arms carry the coils springs, running forward of these are and lower tubular steel arms.

Fore/aft location is by U-shaped cast alloy arms that pivot a mounting in the sill, then round the tyres to join the of the uprights.

Also included in the mix are no fewer than six bright Bilstein dampers – one for each and two small ones providing damping for the diff.

The downside of the ZT 260’s firm is the harsh ride you get at low speeds town and at 70mph on concrete sections, where every surface imperfection seems to be though the body shell to you up and down in your seat.

The becomes apparent when you pushing on through the twisty because the ZT 260 is capable of tackling rural roads at speeds would scare the crap out of Rover 75 drivers. OK, so anything 40mph would probably do

Seriously though, along speed A and B roads the ZT 260’s control is excellent, with roll through the bends and rare instances of pitching the bumps, with the ride in conditions also being than at low speed.

High A-road blasting is also by the steering, which besides one of the more communicative power set-ups I’ve used, is sportingly quick at 2.5 turns to lock.

The combination of excellent control, quick steering and levels of grip provided by the ZR 18 Contisport tyres means the ZT 260 makes short work of changes of direction such as at

Speaking of which, a few tyre runs round some examples revealed that pushed to the limit it’s the ZT front end that slides Even a hefty dose of round my favourite oversteer roundabout failed to get the ZT’s out. And yes, I did have the control switched off…

No it would be possible to get the ZT sideways, but on dry at least it’s going to some doing. Or more

And that brings us to what has to be the link in the ZT’s performance – the engine.


It is of course the engine gives the V8 ZT its 260 nomenclature owing to the overhead cam per bank 4.6 litre V8 producing 257 bhp.

MG’s literature might boast this engine has been with the help of the V8 performance at Roush Industries, but 257 bhp (at 5,000rpm) 4.6 litres is actually pretty and well below other top models in this class.

the ZT 260 does 0-60 in 6.2 seconds so no slouch, though there times when trying to from 50-60mph in the upper when it felt really This is probably due to a combination of its kg weight, high gearing mph per 1,000 rpm in top) and the fact the engine has a surprisingly peaky curve, with a sharp just before 3,000 rising to a maximum of 302 lb/ft at rpm and then falling off rapidly.

The simple solution to this is to full use of the gearbox, and MG has commendably to make the ZT 260 available with transmission only, and though the Tremec TR3650 (with ratios) is a cog short by current it does have a smooth, MG engineered shift that’s a joy to

Running the ZT 260 up through the revs and the not only improves the acceleration, it does wonders for the exhaust which makes up for the lack of at low revs with a glorious roar when the engine pulling hard in the mid-range.

the ZT 260 in a suitably enthusiastic manner and enable you to cover the miles quickly, but it’ll also you wishing it had more power. The is clearly well able to with it, as too are the excellent 325mm rear vented disc which slow the car quickly and straight.

Still, at least tame V8 is a well-proven unit should ensure good

Prices for MG’s most saloon start at Ј28,495 on the but to get a fully loaded SE model the test car, with electrically adjustable seats, upholstery, cruise control and navigation (with teletext TV) looking at Ј33,490.

That might initially expensive until you compare it to for similarly sized German offering equivalent levels of line performance such as the BMW Sport and Mercedes E500 and find they’re over more, at which point it to look pretty reasonable.

And that the MG ZT 260 was developed from an old car on what must have a shoestring budget compared to the likes of BMW and Mercedes spend, it a more than reasonable job of a credible homegrown rival to sports saloons.

It’s a shame that there a more powerful version then MG would have a car to those M badged Beemers and AMG Mercs a run for their money.

But such a car doesn’t exist MG do have one planned – the ZT 385.

be just the car all PistonHeads-reading granddads been waiting for…

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