MG VT 2004 Review
Forgot to put out the recycling bin the night before and he was waiting for me as I dashed up the driveway, certain I had missed the cut. "Not too late, am I?" I asked.
"Nup. In fact, I've been wanting to meet you for years," he said. "If you don't mind me asking, just what is it that you do for a living?"
Ten minutes later we were still standing there in the driveway chatting about the MG and other cars that he had spied in my driveway over the years – his young offsider waiting patiently, me fresh out of bed and starting to feel the chill in a T-shirt, tracky dacks and bare feet.
It was not just the car that had caught my garbo's attention, but also the personalised "ZT V8" number plates.
Don't know what it is about V8s but they continue to exert an irresistible attraction for blokes, young and old alike.
That's a good thing for MG Rover Australia because it could be just the ice-breaker that it needs to give its flagship ZT sports sedan some "street cred" and put bums on seats.
Mind you, at close to $90,000 it is a big ask.
The V6 and supercharged V6 versions of the ZT are nice, but they don't hold anywhere near the same attraction as the big V8 and its classic rear-wheel drive configuration.
Other models are front-wheel drive.
That said we have to admit to being just a tad disappointed with the car which feels much heavier and less agile than its less powerful siblings.
In all other respects, however, the V8 delivers the goods.
The heart of the matter is a 4.6-litre SOHC 16 valve engine that delivers 191kW of power at 5000rpm and 410Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
The engine is sourced from Ford but is not the 4.6-litre unit from Mustang which unfortunately will not fit under the smaller car's bonnet.
The five-speed manual transmission is a Tremec unit previously used in Australia in the Tickford Falcon TS/ TE50 range.
A limited slip differential is slotted on to a rear subframe that also carries the suspension.
AP Lockheed racing brakes are added to the rear axles.
The transmission tunnel has been enlarged to carry the extra plumbing for the rear wheels and as a result there is no room for a driver's foot rest, but it is small price to pay.
The headlights have been upgraded to xenon and the car also scores 18in alloys, rear park control and a sunroof.
Looking at the figures you can see the engine needs to work hard to deliver its best and is not one of the big lazy V8s that we Aussies are used to.
That means putting the boot in and putting it in forcefully, but the rewards are gratifying with a 0-100km/h figure of 6.3 seconds and top speed of 250km/h.
The V8 runs out of puff early but who really cares. It's great fun to just cruise around in and guaranteed to lift your spirits.
There's no mistaking this car for either of its stablemates either, not with a big set of quad tailpipes jutting out from under the back.
The V8 sounds great, deep and resonating with a characteristic and audible wheeze between upshifts as the car accelerates.
The ride is firm but still comfortable, with heavily bolstered sports buckets in the front that provide plenty of sideways support during fast cornering.
The rear wheel drive has a completely different feel and one that will please purists.
Traction control is fitted and is too intrusive, but thankfully can be turned off.
Along with big wheels and rubber and a deep, predatory front grille, the tailpipes form part of an aggressive styling package that is crucial to the car's appeal. The rear spoiler remains surprisingly small.
The ZT V8 weighs in at 1680kg, 180kg more than the supercharged model and 200kg more than the standard car – and that's after ditching the spare.
Unlike other models, it makes do with a reinflation kit instead of a full size spare wheel, with the battery relegated to the underfloor area at the rear to make way for the larger engine.
Interestingly, the CD stacker can also be found hiding under the floor in the boot while satellite navigation is housed in the side wall of the boot.
In terms of which one is accessed more frequently, perhaps it should have been the other way around?
Economy is not one of the car's strong suites running out at about 15.0L/100km using premium unleaded.
But it is not as bad as some V8s and we don't think this will particularly worry the punter that is prepared to fork out this kind of money.
Range and Specs
|+180||2.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$4,510 – 6,600||2004 MG ZT 2004 +180 Pricing and Specs|
|+190||2.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$4,510 – 6,600||2004 MG ZT 2004 +190 Pricing and Specs|
|180||2.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$4,290 – 6,270||2004 MG ZT 2004 180 Pricing and Specs|
|190||2.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$4,290 – 6,270||2004 MG ZT 2004 190 Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data