With the demise of Mg Rover in 2005, it put into perspective what other cars are around for the same value and looks when searching for a new car to replace the one you have, it feels surreal to know that there may not be any chance of getting another true MG-Rover product anymore, until we wait and see what is going to be coming from China, many people change to other brands, where as many people like myself, get to the top of the model specification and enjoy what we have.
From getting my first car a humble 1.1S Rover Metro, right through to the ZT260, owning Mg Rover cars since passing my test has been great, even more so for waiting on new models bearing the MG badge.
Having a place accepted at university the Metro had to go, covering 300 miles on a one way trip wasn’t going to do the car much good, so searching for another car a Rover 220SD was a good choice. It was certainly a fairly big difference in terms of finish of the interior, handling and going to diesel power, and ride comfort.
Due to various circumstances, selling the 220 was urgent and I ended up buying another diesel, a 620SDi from my parents, knowing I had a very well looked after car. Now this was luxury, electric windows, direct injection diesel with a mighty 105bhp, electric sunroof, even down to the velour seats. This was a keeper.
Having changed various parts, on a lowly student wage, the 620 eventually looked like a Ti only with the economy, with full Ti interior, lip spoiler, and 800 Vitesse wheels it certainly looked classy amongst the Saxos and Corsas on the student car park!
But after 4 years of faithful service, the cost of repairs after an MOT failure was too much and it was retired to the scrap yard in the sky. Borrowing another 620SDi from my uncle served me well, including securing a new job with my current employer.
Now was the time to find a car that was fun, powerful, and not dependant on fuel economy as I would be working a 5 minute walk from work. After searching, the original plan was to get a ZT260, but on looking at the costs of buying and insuring at the age of 21, I decided the more sensible route first of getting a ZT190.
Visiting the local car supermarket randomly, and looking around the cars that had just arrived, an Anthracite ZT190+ was sat at the front of the queue waiting to be prepared for sale.
With only 24,000 miles on a 53 registration in March 2007 I knew it had to be mine. Never owning a petrol car for the last 4 years certainly had its moments when balancing the clutch in the V6!
The sheer power and comfort I cannot exaggerate enough compared to the previous cars, climate control, driver’s intelligence pack, the look of the car just said it all – I have power and luxury and have no problems keeping up with many of the big boys in their executive motors. (A trip to the Nurburgring certainly proved it was capable!)
After owning the 190 for over 18 months I felt the time was for a change as the miles were creeping up and the bodywork was still in fantastic condition, I decided to change for something which I had originally set out to buy, the MG260.
Thanks to the Governments budget and the new tax rules, it put the 190+ into the same tax band as the 260, so that was it. If I am going to be paying the same tax as a V8, I might as well take the bull by the horns and get one!
After searching and more searching, I was setting myself on a nice looking non SE spec V8. All geared up to go and look at it, with a part exchange figure sorted for the V6, I found another car that had been on the auto trader for a number of weeks, a Mirage monogram ZT260SE. A few frantic phone calls later I went to see it on a sunny Friday afternoon; of which the next day another person was coming to view prepared to buy!
The dealer looked around my car; we agreed a part ex price and took the 260 for a test drive. The very first one I had driven. The excitement was amazing, even more so then when driving the V6 for the first time, and on returning to the garage I found out why it was so exciting.
On hearing the classic “old school” V8 tick over, thinking this sounds normal, the paperwork said otherwise, having race cams and up rated throttle body fitted, this was special. 320bhp special! Complete with an amazing service history to back it all up, the deposit was paid and I said goodbye to the V6 that had served me so well.
On comparison between the V6 and the V8, there is just no going back, and not because I am biased, but it is the sound that just makes you smile every time you start that engine, and press the throttle to overtake.
In terms of interior, the only difference between the 190+spec and the SE spec is the leather interior and the Hi-Line entertainment package. The only real thing you loose is the foot rest, and that is not big problem. Exterior, wise the other real change is the subtle extra exhaust on the right hand side, which if you are like me, I look to see if it is there to find a V8 when looking at other ZTs. The only real comparison is the engine and drive of the car. Because of the changes such as rear wheel drive, it does catch you out on some corners where you could throw the front wheel drive v6 into and not worry, but it’s all about learning how the car handles. It certainly is an odd feeling going back to front wheel drive expecting something that isn’t going to happen when going round a bend!
Would I have chosen a V8 again after knowing what I do now? Defiantly a yes, so much character and fun it’s a real unique car, certainly when people have no idea it was a standard fit makes it all the more special.
But what if the 260 was a no go option? Certainly another 190 will be have been bought being a mark 2 version, there isn’t anything available at the moment that can quite match the same value and presence of the MG.