2004 MG ZS 180 2.5 V6 from UK and Ireland


Hope they make them again


Other than the crankshaft sensor needing a clean, this car has not missed a beat.

General Comments:

The ZS must be the most underrated car of recent years. The handling is awesome, and plenty of power is on tap.

The seats are very supportive, and the interior of the MK2, although having some texturing belonging to an earlier era, does not look like a very cheap stereo, unlike most of its peers.

The V6 can be driven in a leisurely fashion with good progress. Open it up, and it does not disappoint; with no noticeable power peaks, it pulls very well from low revs, all the way to 6000+. An induction kit and other mods will make it pull well up to the red line if you wish.

Gear change does not like to be rushed too much; this is a product of uprating the gearbox to take the V6 torque.

The traditional weaknesses of this car are the variable intake system, which has been fixed in advance of failure, and the clutch hydraulics, again, replaced with what should be a much more robust system.

Surprisingly, the ZS can become a good cruiser with the addition of some sound deadening. A rare treat of a fine handling yet refined car.. at least for the price!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th July, 2007

2004 MG ZS 180 2.5 V6 from UK and Ireland


A car you can really enjoy driving


Clutch started becoming quite rough and squeaked at 10,000 miles; traced to the clutch master cylinder. Replacement became rough in use after 25,000 more miles - only when the engine is hot - but greasing helped. Cheap and easy to replace cylinders thankfully.

Passenger door rattles sometimes, and has done since 5000 miles. Driver's door has recently started doing the same at 37,000.

Trickle of coolant out of the thermostat (located in the engine V). Expensive to fix, but easily kept in check until it is fixed.

Starter didn't engage one day at around 38,000 miles. Had to roll the car to start. Has never happened again, but worried me.

General Comments:

A quick car. Good low down acceleration is matched by good high end. It's easy to forget how fast it is when you get used to it.

Handling in the dry is very good, I don't take the car anywhere near its limit, but have to tone down my driving a lot when getting into other cars. The brakes are excellent and suit the car's performance. My driving style is to stay within the limits, but to make good progress, and I find I get plenty of tailgaters who want past at 60MPH on the straights, but disappear far behind when a corner comes up.

The car can be driven economically - I have a long commute to work, and can get 35MPG consistently, 37 MPG if I'm really careful/lucky/slow. This suffers a lot if you put your foot down: for example, I drove steadily for 270 miles and was expecting around 34 MPG - for the next 20 miles I stuck my foot down on a long winding country road, exactly what the car likes. I got 30 MPG.

Tyres look like being expensive: the factory SportContact2's lasted for 27,000/34,000 front/rear and were excellent in the dry, but a little worrying in the wet. Pirelli Pzero Asymmetricos are on now at £130 a corner (the car is on 17" alloys as standard) and are starting to look thin on the front at 40,000 miles. Performance in the dry seems much the same, though as noted, I don't drive the car as hard as some would. Wet driving seems marginally better, but with 175 BHP at the front wheels, it'll always be an issue.

The 205x45x17 tyres, together with the low and hard suspension, make bumpy roads a bit jarring, but this is more than made up for on good roads, as it's the suspension that contributes most to the excellent handling. You won't feel any roll unless you're really pushing it.

I should mention the steering and turning circle - the car has excellent, responsive, quick gearing steering. The weighting on power assistance is spot on. As mentioned, the handling is great, and the balance is very good for a front wheel drive car; understeer is rare, and oversteer can be provoked. On the road I've not used anything better in a similar sized car.

Parking though, that's something else. To fit in the aforementioned 17" wheels, the total lock has been reduced. This is the first car I've had that needs two manoeuvres to park up at home, and as I read someone on a forum comment: "you're lucky to complete a U-turn in the same postcode". It isn't really all that bad on paper: the Rover 45 has a turning circle of about 10 metres, the ZS about 11m. But it does make a difference.

Interior: Some people don't like the dash, calling it old - well, I don't really look at it that much. It has all the buttons on, and a steering wheel, and everything you need is right under your fingers. There's a pointless vent right in the top of the dash that doesn't direct air at the windscreen or passengers, and stays shut off, but beyond that, there's nothing wrong. It's awkward finding a position for a screen for computer/navigation, which for me, is the only thing that dates it. I'd like a screen built in.

I like the seats a lot. They're the half leathers, and hold you in for the sharp corners that the ZS is such a natural for. There are the normal adjustments available, and the easily changed lumbar support is great for me, as I can change it to suit after killing my back sitting at a computer for up to 9 hours at work. My car has dark grey inserts in the leather to match the exterior of the car and the carbon effect dash trim. I originally wanted a car in yellow or blue, which would have had matching inserts in the interior, but have grown fond of the X-Power Grey trim.

I have the dealer option Kenwood CD player, tied to a 10 disc MP3 jukebox in the boot. This is essential for commuters, as you can fit an amazing number of audio books in 7000MB of MP3s!

Boot space is good, but a little smaller than I was hoping - I have the hatch, which does have a smaller boot than the saloon ZS. Rear legroom is okay, but not great: similar to a Mondeo, but less than a 306 (which is surprisingly spacious inside for a car so much shorter).

I find toe and heel difficult with the ZS's pedal arrangement. Others seem okay with it though..

The short throw gearshift is very good. The gearbox on the whole being smooth and easy to live with, though there is a fair bit of transmission whine, particularly at higher RPM. On my other MG-Rovers, reverse was always a pain in some way or other. Not with this, it engages first time every time.

Basic maintenance is easy - the oil and filter is accessible by just removing a front wheel for example. More involved stuff is harder, the rear bank of spark plugs is very difficult to reach for example.

My ZS attracts boy racers on road: I don't know whether it's the spoiler or large exhaust (all of which is standard). I'd hate to see the attention a Mk2 with the body kit or a bright yellow car gets. They either get bored trying to kill me when I refuse to race, or they more likely go off to tell their mates that they've 'beat a V6'. Having said that, I've lost my temper in the past (usually with someone in something Bavarian, you know the type), and it is far too easy to find that, when you come to your senses, you're doing silly speeds.

Price: I got the car very cheaply not long after MG-Rover went under. I saw that after putting 10,000 extra miles on the car, I could have sold it for what I'd paid for it. Running costs are better than I expected for a 2.5 V6, but I do find myself sometimes hankering after a Rover 25 1.4, which could be run for less than half, and insured for a quarter of what I'm paying now.

I've used a local dealership twice, they've still got MG-Rover signs outside, but mostly Skodas on sale now if I remember correctly. They've been able to get the clutch cylinder next day, and had stock of the air filters. Parts are not a problem. This local place was friendly and willing to help, though the mechanic didn't know which air filter was for the V6, and had to take the existing one out to match (and seemed disgruntled at being asked to do some work). They also seemed surprised it was a V6..

I've tried to keep this review as objective as possible, but I must say that I love the car. It's difficult to find much to criticise after a long drive in it on a clear road.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th September, 2006

20th Jul 2007, 13:34

At last! An honest objective review which tells people what they would like to know - good and bad. I have had mine for over a year and enjoy its character and ability more-so now than I did last year.

No car is perfect and there is more to a car than being able to 'destroy' your mates saxo, focus, or clio etc. Its cheap to buy and expensive to run, but it is good fun and genuinely quick on all road surfaces. I have owned or driven many of the so-called 'great' hot-hatches and this car can teach them all a thing or two on a quick blast over a clear moorland road.