Used MG Rover ZS Hatchback 2001 - 2005 review

Category: Family car

The styling and cabin are questionable, but MG ZS is a cheap and fun to drive car

MG Rover ZS Hatchback (01 - 05)
  • MG Rover ZS Hatchback (01 - 05)
  • MG Rover ZS Hatchback (01 - 05)
Used MG Rover ZS Hatchback 2001 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used MG ZS hatchback like?

The MG ZS's engineers may have been forced to use the platform of the stodgy-handling Rover 45 as a base, but they didn't let that deter them. When the ZS arrived in 2001, it did so to critical acclaim. The stiffened, lowered suspension does an excellent job and provides fine handling, although the ride is a bit too firm as a result.

There's a wide range of engines, starting with a 1.6-litre 107bhp petrol and culminating in an excellent 2.5-litre 177bhp V6. A 1.8-litre petrol and two 2.0 turbodiesels complete the picture.


The styling and cabin are questionable, but MG ZS is a cheap and fun to drive car

  • Good handling
  • Cracking performance from V6 engine
  • It looks a bit homemade and the ride is very harsh

Although the inside was given the sports treatment, too, it still looked old-fashioned even when new, despite the chrome-ringed dials. The front seats are good, though, with plenty of side support, although steering wheel adjustment is limited. Rear cabin space is poor, too, but both the saloon and the hatch have a spilt/folding rear seat and decent boot space.

Ownership cost

What used MG ZS hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a MG ZS hatchback?

Back in 2003, a new MG ZS180 cost more than the equivalent five-door Volkswagen Golf GTI, but it's the Golf that's worth more now. Still, that means you can get a quick, sharp-handling car for not much money if you can find a well-cared-for ZS.

The MG can run to 15,000 miles before it needs a service, though, whereas the GTI needs attention one a year or every 10,000 miles. An independent MG expert will charge less per hour than his VW counterpart, but, on average, major repair work on the MG will prove more costly.

Our recommendations

Which used MG ZS hatchback should I buy?

If you want the most sporting model, it has to be the V6. Badged ZS180, the engine produces 177bhp and blasts the car from 0-60mph in 7.3sec and on to a top speed of 139mph. Standard kit includes 17in alloy wheels, part-leather trim and an aggressive-looking bodykit.

Avoid the two 2.0-litre turbodiesels, one with 100bhp and one with 110bhp, as they're off the pace for refinement and performance. Likewise, you can find the 117bhp 1.8-litre ZS120 with a CVT automatic gearbox, but you're better off sticking with the five-speed manual.

Whichever ZS you buy, it will have a reasonable amount of equipment. Even the entry-level ZS110, which has a 107bhp 1.6-litre engine, gets anti-lock brakes, twin front and side airbags, alloy wheels and remote central locking. Air-conditioning and CD players are also available, but even after the range had a face-lift in April 2004, traction and stability control, and curtain airbags were still not available.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used MG ZS hatchback?