The MG ZS is a sports family car. The ZS is essentially a tuned version of the Rover 45 (which was launched in 1999). The 45 in turn is a facelifted version of the Rover 400 which was launched in hatchback form in 1995 and saloon form in 1996. The Rover 400 had much in common with the Honda Civic of 1995-1999, but more so with the Honda Domani (1997-2000) or Isuzu Gemini (1993-1996). At the time of development, Rover engineers used the Civic platform to design the saloon version of the 400/45/ZS, Honda had no part in the saloon.


The model was rapidly created from the Rover 45 after BMW sold off Rover in 2000. Development of the model was greatly accelerated by the fact that Rover had already created 400-series prototypes of the car using V6 engines and sporting suspension setups. In fact, MG-Rover developed MG versions of all three Rover cars on sale at the time.

The Rover 45 donor car did not have a reputation for being a driver’s car but in fact it was the most suitable car in the Rover range for transformation into an MG, its Honda heritage providing double-wishbone front suspension and fully independent multi-link rear suspension.

As a Rover, the 45 was optimised for comfort rather than handling — however, as an MG the opposite was the case. The ZS 180, offering 175 bhp (130 kW; 177 PS) from the 2.5 L V6 engine and acceleration to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, received favourable reviews in the press, with particular praise for its steering, handling and suspension. Setting the ZS apart from most rivals was the V6 configuration when most of its rivals were using turbochargers. This added to the aural appeal of the ZS and added to the desirability of the 180 model.

Variants and updates

A successor to the Rover 45/MG ZS (known internally as RD/X60) was under development in the early 2000s. This was to have been based on a shortened Rover 75 floorplan and was to appear in saloon, hatchback and ‘tourer’ (estate) bodystyles. Chassis development was being undertaken by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and ceased when TWR collapsed. The non-appearance of RD/X60 meant that the ZS was facelifted and continued in production until the demise of MG Rover.

In 2004 the ZS was facelifted with the rest of the MG Rover range. The retro design cues adopted when the 400 became the 45 were mostly dropped. For the first time the Rover 45 and MG ZS became noticeably different looking cars, all the ZS models had the option of being bodykitted with a kit derived from the MG XPower SV but this must be bought at the time of purchase and was a cost option. The 2004 model year cars also received a revised interior with new seat materials, a new dash design incorporating climate control on the ZS120+ model and the range-topping ZS180 model.

The MG ZS ceased production in April 2005 on the bankruptcy of MG Rover, and the rights to make the car were soon repossessed by Honda – who owned the rights to the original 1995 design.

Nanjing Automobile of China bought the remaining assets of MG Rover in July 2005. SAIC Motor had previously acquired some intellectual property rights from MG Rover, so the Chinese Government merged the two companies together, which resulted in the rebirth of MG as MG Motor UK Ltd. They then designed a new model in China, announced in 2009 as the MG6.[2] Built in China and assembled by MG Motor UK at the old MG Rover Longbridge plant, sales started in 2011.

Performance data for the MG ZS range:

Model Engine Power Torque 0-60 mph (0–97 km/h) Top speed
ZS105 (RoI Only) 1.4 L K-Series 102 hp (76 kW) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (91 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 10.1 110 mph (177 km/h)
ZS110 1.6 L K-Series 107 hp (80 kW) at 6000 rpm 138 N·m (101 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm 9.8 119 mph (192 km/h)
ZS120 1.8 L K-Series 115 hp (86 kW) at 5500 rpm 160 N·m (118 ft·lbf) at 2750 rpm 9.0 122 mph (196 km/h)
ZS120 Auto 1.8 L K-Series 115 hp (86 kW) at 5500 rpm 160 N·m (118 ft·lbf) at 2750 rpm 9.9 115 mph (185 km/h)
ZS180 2.5 L KV6 175 bhp, 177 ps (130 kW) at 6500 rpm 240 N·m (177 ft·lbf) at 4000 rpm 7.3 139 mph (224 km/h)
ZS TD (discontinued) 2.0 L L-Series 99 hp (74 kW) at 4200 rpm
ZS TD 115 2.0 L L-Series 111 hp (83 kW) at 4200rpm 260 N·m (191 ft·lbf) at 2000 rpm 9.5 120 mph (193 km/h)