Dec 22 2008 Peter Hayward
MG still in demand
BY the time MG-Rover came up with the chunky ZR, the 25 it was based on was already well behind the times.
But it's a measure of the design success their styling gurus came up with that the cars are still in demand years after the company went bust.
The reworking turned a staid family car into a great looking and properly focused 'warm' hatch.
It's agile and fun to drive even with the smallest 1.4, 104bhp engine - partly thanks to a close ratio gearbox.
And with those spoilers, fat tyres on pretty alloys and bright in-your-face colours, it has appealed to a wide range of buyers who would never have considered buying the 25.
Marvellous suspension gives excellent grip and road holding and sharp power steering with a chunky wheel gives all the right road feel. However, the downside is a pretty hard ride.
Other engines include a 115bhp 1.8 and the range topping 157bhp tuned version of the same size. There is also a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with 100 or 111bhp.
It has the 25's failings of a poor driving position and cramped rear leg and headroom for taller people.
But it is available as a three or five door hatch and the re-worked interior is funky to look at and good to live with.
Price : Pay around £1,800 for a '02 02-reg 3dr, £2,500 for an '03 53-reg 3dr, £3,300 for an '05 05-reg 5dr
Mechanical : 102bhp, 1,396cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 111mph
0-62mph : 10 secs
Combined mpg : 41
Insurance group : 7
Marks : 8/10
Main rival : VW Polo 1.6, Ford Fiesta 1.6