MG ZS in Trophy Blue
MG ZS in Trophy Blue

MG ZS Mk1 Overview

MGs ZS sports saloon had a distinct dynamic character, race-track looks, a powerful engine and was the basis of the companys entry into the British Touring Car championship in September, 2001. Prices were competitive too, ranging between 12,495 and 16,395 on the road. With a powerful and smooth six-cylinder engine, rare in a car of this size and unique at the price, the range-topping MG ZS 180 is expected to excite sports-minded drivers. MG was also simultaneously launching MG ZR and MG ZT models to compete with the same affordable-power concept in other sectors of the market. 

MG ZS was available in both 5-door hatchback and 4-door saloon body style, and features the 2.5-litre KV6 engine with manual transmission producing exceptional performance or the highly rated 1.8-litre lightweight K Series engine with the option of selectable Stepspeed CVT.

Two derivatives were available; the ZS 120 and the ZS 180. Each featured a sports character that has been engineered throughout, with a sports tuned suspension, brakes and steering to transform the driving feel. The body-coloured MG grille distinguished the Exterior style, with bright mesh air intakes and many body colour linked features. Styled 16" and 17" alloy wheels provided an indication of the performance available. Wind-tunnel work on the cars aerodynamics produced a package for the ZS 120 of front bib and rear spoilers and side skirts to minimise aero drag and lift. The bumper increases air flow to the engine, increases stability at speed and highlights the cars muscular stance when viewed from the front. The rear spoiler for the ZS 180 saloon version is a bold, high-mounted plane type, to achieve aerodynamic efficiency. The racing look is completed by the sports exhaust tailpipe, housed within a fabricated stainless steel heat shield.

The interior had special colour co-ordinated sports seats, Rhodium silver fascia detailing and silver instrumentation. The MG sports steering wheel and gearshift use an alloy and leather combination design. ZS 180 versions are specified in black perforated leather, with matching gearshift and handbrake gaiter.
The KV6 was one of the shortest V6 packages around and with a 90 v, ideally suited to the ZSs front wheel drive application. It inherits the lightweight packaging of the revolutionary K-Series design and is one of the lightest V6 engines around. ZS 180 offered excellent mid-range and high speed performance.

Tuned chassis dynamics

MG ZS flatters the smooth, skilful driver, yet it also rewards the more adventurous driver who may enjoy exploiting its performance. The vehicle retains excellent directional stability. The chassis specification of ZS was actually developed on the racetrack by enthusiasts before the MG saloon programme started. Straights multi-spoke 17" alloy wheels were specified for the ZS 180 with 205/45 R17 tyres, to house the large 282mm front ventilated discs for good stopping performance aided by a Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and ABS.

Rob Oldaker, MG Rovers Product Development Director, said: "MG cars have always been appreciated by drivers and I am sure the MG ZS will actually surprise and impress. The MG ZS 180 particularly so, with its powerful and smooth six-cylinder engine, rare in a car of this size. "Were looking to demonstrate these strengths later in the year in the British Touring Car Championship where the engineering integrity of its all-wishbone suspension set-up will be fully performance tested."

The MG ZS competes with the Peugeot 307, Alfa Romeo 147, Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon, Toledo and Audi A3. The MG ZS range started with the five-door ZS 120 at 12,495 on the road, with the ZS+ 120 at 13,495. The more powerful ZS 180 is 15,595. Saloon versions start at 13,295 with the ZS 180 saloon at 16,395 on the road.

MG ZS 120

1.8-litre manual or Stepspeed transmission

Standard equipment on all ZS models, included:

Body coloured exterior items:

  • Door handles, rear number plate surround, door mirrors
  • Aerodynamic boot spoiler, side-rubbing strips, bumper inserts
  • Bright mesh main and lower grilles
  • 16" Hairpins sports alloy wheels
  • Electric door mirrors
  • Lower sports suspension, sports rated springs and dampers
  • Sharp steering response
  • Sports cloth seats
  • ABS and Electronic brakeforce distribution
  • Bright exhaust tailpipe and heat shield


Additional specification features over the standard ZS 120 model include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Electric front windows

MG ZS 180

177Ps 2.5-litre V6 with 5-speed manual transmission

Additional spec for ZS 180 model over the ZS+ model:

  • Tuned 2.5V6 (177Ps) engine
  • Sports ratio gearbox
  • 17" Straights multi-spoke alloy wheels
  • Uprated front (282mm) disc brakes and calipers
  • Part leather sports seats
  • Leather MG gearknob, steering wheel and handbrake grip
  • Extreme rear aerodynamic boot spoiler
  • Front bib spoiler
  • Sculpted side sill finishers
  • Deep front bumper incorporating fog lights
These specifications are for the UK market. Deviations from the model variants described here are possible in various formats.


MG ZS 5dr hatchback and 4dr saloon

ZS 120 ZS 120 Stepspeed ZS 180


9.0 9.9 7.3

30-50mph (4th)

6.8 n.a. 6.0

50-70mph (4th)

7.6 n.a. 6.0

80-120km/h (4th)

9.6 n.a 7.6

Top Speed (mph/kph)

122/197 115/185 139/224

EU cycle (93/116/EC) mpg/litres/100 km

ZS 120 ZS 120 Stepspeed ZS 180

EU urban

29.2/9.7 23.8/11.9 20/14.1

EU extra-Urban

48.3/5.8 43.2/6.5 41.4/6.8

EU Combined

38.9/7.3 33.3/8.5 29.7/9.5

CO2 g/km

174 203 227

All fuel economy figures are in accordance with Directive 93/116EC. They were calculated using the same test cycle as used for official exhaust emission classifications. They cannot be compared with previous steady speed/urban figures and are more representative of actual on-road fuel consumption.

Under normal use a car's actual fuel consumption may differ from those achieved through the test procedure, depending on driving technique, road and traffic conditions, environmental factors and vehicle condition.

All MG ZS petrol models were equipped with a three-way controlled catalytic converter and must use unleaded fuel. The use of premium (95 RON) unleaded fuel is recommended. Fuel tank capacity: 12.1 gallons (55 litres)

MG ZS 180 in Monogram Saffron
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