On test: MG ZT-T 135 CDTI review (2001-2005 model) – MSN Cars UK

16 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on On test: MG ZT-T 135 CDTI review (2001-2005 model) – MSN Cars UK

On test: MG ZT-T 135 CDTI review (2001-2005 model)


Engine:2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail turbodiesel

Fuel type:Diesel

Transmission:Five-speed manual

Date of test:September 2003

The ZT-T is the tourer (estate) version of the MG ZT, which is a sporting MG-badged version of the Rover 75. Where the Rover is rather traditional in its appeal the ZT is aimed at an altogether more sporting audience, to some success. Company car legislation and the need for volume has forced MG-Rover to offer a more extensive range of engines than was first available, the 135bhp common-rail turbodiesel complimenting the range of V6 and turbocharged petrol engines.

The ZT has always felt like a British ‘bruiser’ the turbodiesel offers a decent compromise between sporting performance and economy. As the ‘T’ it has a useful estate boot, which unlike much of the so-called ‘lifestyle estates’ is actually a useable, spacious luggage compartment.

Where does it fit?

The MG ZT-T and the Rover 75 upon which it’s based is sometimes touted as a BMW 3 Series/Audi A4 rival, but in reality it’s better positioned to compete against the more mainstream competition. The CDTi turbodiesel MG ZT-T is about as sensible a ‘sporting’ car as you could look for in the MG range – it’s spacious, practical, good-looking and delivers an entertaining driving experience. It’s frugal too – even if you drive it hard.

Sporting diesels seem to be taking hold in our consciousness, the MG ZT-T just one of a number of such models from a variety of manufacturers.

Is it for you?

If you’re after a sporty looking, useful, practical and frugal estate car then you could do a great deal worse. It certainly looks appealing with its deep body-coloured bumpers and de-chromed exterior, while the interior removes the pipe and slippers olde-world charm of the Rover 75 for a more convincing racy fascia. It’s not hugely fast, the engine feeling lazier in its performance than some of the competition, but it’s actually deceptively quick and well suited to high speed cruising.

Our test car covered over 1,000 miles in our charge, driving between Edinburgh and London fully loaded in complete comfort at high cruising speeds on the motorway and across country.

What does it do well?

As mentioned above the MGZT-T is an extremely useful machine for those needing to carry a lot of stuff in comfort over distance. During a hard week it returned an impressive 38mpg average. It’s comfortable, quiet and that spacious boot can carry a great deal despite being rather shallow in depth.

The front seats are supportive and offer great comfort, while refinement is high, road, engine and wind noise low even at high cruising speeds. As much as it excels on the motorway it’ll also entertain on more challenging roads the ride and handling impressive for a big front-wheel-drive car like this. Overall it feels and looks solid, the weighty doors adding to the quality feel.


What doesn’t it do well?

As solid as it looks and feels there have been mixed reports of build quality across the range. The diesel engine needs to be worked fairly hard to produce its best, it not having the effortless urgency of some rivals – particularly from VW and Peugeot. The bootspace, although ample could be so much bigger – the full-sized spare wheel taking up a huge amount of space under the floor.

Rear legroom is class competitive, but a bit more space would be welcomed. The steering, though weighty and precise is rather devoid of feeling. The sharp clutch takes some getting used to making it easy to stall until you become familiar with it, low-speed manoeuvring needing more revs than you’d think to keep it from stalling.

What’s it like to live with?

If you need a big, comfortable cruiser that looks good and is an enjoyable drive then life with the MG ZT-T 135 CDTi should be fine. Just don’t try telling your friends down the pub its name, as, as you can see, it’s quite a mouthful. The opening window on the rear tailgate is a useful touch, the flat loading area with the rear seats folded giving you a great deal of carrying capacity should you need it.

Standard specifications tend to change rather a lot from MG Rover so be sure to check what you’re getting, as speccing it up adds to the cost. If you like to avoid fuel stops then the MG ZT-T CDTi is definitely worth considering, it’ll cover huge distances before the fuel light comes on.

Would we buy it?

The MG ZT-T CDTi is an impressive all-rounder – though so are much of its competition. Its large boot is one attraction, as is its good looks and chunky feel. Whether we’d opt for one over a Mondeo or indeed a BMW 320D Touring remains to be seen.

The BMW has more prestige, retains its value better and performs better, while the Ford brings similar loading space and a more involving drive. We love the plucky spirit of the UK company, but if we were looking to spend £21,000+ on a load-lugging diesel car then we’d probably look elsewhere. That said, if you can find one cheaper than list, or haggle a good deal with your salesman then it’s well worth considering.

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