MGs pocket rocket ZR became the companys best selling car in 2004 - the first time an MG consistently outsold a Rover since the brands expansion in 2001.This sports hot hatch also led the field in the UK and Italy and performed very well saleswise in Spain, Ireland and Portugal.
The creation of a hot hatchback was part of MG Rovers campaign to attract new, youthful buyers after separating from BMW.
Launched in Britain in June 2001 the ZR was designed to be a sporting pal to the Rover 25 and MG was keen to promote the car as affordable power.
The basic 1.4-litre, 103bhp ZR offers an extensive range including 117bhp 1.4-litre and 160bhp 1.8-litre versions. The former was available with a Step speed sequential CVT gearbox as well as a choice of two turbo diesels in 101bhp and 113bhp.
MG offered a choice of three or five doors on all models in the range. Vivid colours, big alloys, spoilers, grilles, upgraded suspension and brakes complimented a lively interior. This confident looking vehicle can now be regarded as one of the last great MGs.
Now may be a good time to snap one up second-hand at a reasonable price. Dealers have reported a decline in second-hand values across the MG range since the demise of MG Rover this year. However, there are clearly concerns these days regarding parts availability and dealer back-up since MG Rover collapsed.
Although not appearing to offer much more than the competition, in terms of speed, these cars have a reputation for being fast on the road, as our reviewers testify.
If proof is required the ZR is indeed a high performance vehicle - then consider this: specialist driver training centres in Germany use them to teach advanced handling skills. That is pretty impressive when you consider the quality of their own car brands.
German motoring organisation, ADAC, the largest in Europe, picked the British brand ahead of the German competition.
The 2004 MG ZR had a new exterior appearance, with a new style of bumpers, clear lens halogen headlamps and integrated front grille design more reminiscent of the MG SV supercar although there is nothing amazing in terms of technology inside the cabin. Some consider The ZRs lack of technology a blessing in disguise. You dont find traction control systems, advanced climate control or numerous airbags in the cabin. But that means there is less to malfunction. Overall, MG ZR has a reputation for getting its basics right - good engines, gearboxes and solid frame and as one of the last of the British line it has the potential to be a collectors item one day.
Our reviewers generally find it a success - a fun powerful car to get around in with superb handling particularly on country roads. In terms of spec heres a couple of snippets from some professional reviews to put things in perspective:
Channel Four Cars: The ZR is well put together, but the quality of some materials is a bit cheap, and the facia styling is looking tired. All the components are generally well proven.
Times Online: In terms of all-round spec, the MG ZR isnt at all bad. It has sportier suspension and wider tyres than the Rover 25. The steering is well weighted and precise and the well-shaped sports seats hold front passengers firmly.