From £8,695
Hot ZR 160 is golden oldie

Our Verdict

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3 August 2004

You can say what you like about mutton dressed as lamb, but you can’t argue with the value of MG’s facelifted hot hatch. Determined haggling will slash the ZR 160’s £14,995 list price to around £12,625, and there’s not much else around like it for that sort of money.

Remember the MG’s value, and you can forgive some of its foibles. This is indisputably an old car, pepped up by recent revisions to exterior styling (largely successful), cabin (less so) and minor mechanical changes (mixed).

Its age is apparent from the moment you first grasp the old 1990s’ flexi-key, an unfortunate reminder of the ZR’s ancient roots. Pensionable details abound: the seat is too high even on its lowest setting, the steering wheel adjusts for rake only and you can’t open the boot without poking around with the remote control.

It’s not all bad news though. The front of the ZR is a comfy place to be and the major controls are sensibly positioned. You can even heel-and-toe without resorting to contortionism.

A late-life facelift isn’t enough to elevate the ZR to the dynamic level of its ZS sister, however. Despite a long throttle- pedal travel, the little MG is easy to drive smoothly; it just never feels as alert as the best competition such as the Clio Renaultsport182. It feels rubbery and soft as you turn sharply into a corner. The flipside, though, is a comfortable ride.

It never feels fast, either, despite MG’s claim of a 7.4sec sprint to 60mph. A glance at the power/torque curves confirms this is a peaky engine that needs to be worked hard. The brakes are spongy with early anti-lock activation, but there are no other electronic aids to hinder progress.

The ZR is still worth a look if you score a good discount – but it fails to serve up the thrills available elsewhere.

Tim Pollard

Join the debate


31 December 2010

just bought one of these for the wife,55 reg,fsh,35k, one owner in lovely ignition blue and as new inside and out....what a brilliant little drivers tool.the chassis and dynamics are sharp as a pin and the engine is full of verve too........the head gasket is fine and not a rattle to be found fact its reminded me how quick and agile hot hatch's used to be,a lot like a 205gti 1.9 i used to own back in the day.

31 December 2010

They are a very good buy nowadays considering you can buy one of the facelifted 160's for about £2k - HG issues should be significantly reduced with the new design hg on these and it's cheap to fix anyway.

31 December 2010

Years ago my wife was her companies acting 'fleet manager' so we set about abusing this position by ordered one of these for a few weeks test.. what a hoot! although I could never get comfortable in the interior.

She got her first ever speeding ticket, the very 1st time out in it so it got sent back pronto!

4 January 2011

here she is; [IMG] spent a day cleaning it and polishing today(the pic is pre detailing) and it has come up beautifully......surprisingly quite a few people think its a brand new car(it has a private plate)....just goes to show how much the general public knows about cars!

4 January 2011

Cracking cars to drive but buyer beware!

The biggest problem is still the head gasket on the K series engine and with prices now being as low as they are it can work out uneconomical to fix unless you can do the work yourself.

Trim can also be a bit fragile in places but if you aren't too worried about that these are a genuine mechanical drive, even if they can "feel" a little old.



It's all about the twisties........

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