Tuning the MG ZT for Performance

"The ZT is an excellent tuning project base."

You can do a lot worse than choose the ZT for a tuning project, as it can make quite an effective track day car. The standard ZT from MG was a step up from the Rover 800 and 620 Ti. It was made between 2001 and 2005 and sold up to 2007 so had a relatively short life and it was hoped that this model would help lift the Rover group from its impending demise. Sadly the economic climate saw the Rover group collapse but there are a dedicated number of ZT owners out there and plenty of performance parts to choose from.

Uprating your ZT's cornering and general handling is often a big priority.Don't go too mad when it comes to lowering your car, a drop of around  40mm will make a noticeable difference.

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Watch out for really stiff suspension, as it impairs the cars grip causing it to bounce over the road surface rather than gripping it.

When it comes to engine tuning you want to get the power coming on early and lasting for as much of the rev band as is possible.

With some simple modifications you can really transform your ZT into a fun car, and credible track performer.

Smaller engines do not usually provide much of a return in terms of power so choose a model with a more powerful engine engine. The 160,190 and 260 engines all make good tuning candidates. You could always do an engine swap if you have a small engine to start with. The big daddy of the ZT range is the competition bred ZT260 with a massive v8 engine, although a showcase ZT500 was made as a concept it was never mass produced but shows the capability of the chassis.

MG ZT Tuning modifications.

Bear in mind the mantra that you want to keep as much low end power as you can and aim for a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power spike. A lot of performance part makers will quote a peak power figure and you really should ignore this and look instead at the full power band. One of the most significant with the best cost to power gain, engine mods you can do is to fit a fast road cam. You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to uprate the fuelling. For fuelling upgrades you will generally need a set of uprated injectors and a higher capacity fuel pump.

MG ZT intake and exhaust modifications.

Breathing mods are usually easily sorted and probably one of the easiest mods to do. For smaller engined ZT projects go with a high flow sports panel air filter. On larger engined models and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help increase the peak power providing you address the problem of it sucking in warm engine bay air by using a cold air. Exhaust selection should take into account the flow rate, rather than just the bore size, too small and you have a restriction, too big and the flow rate will dimish the point the engine scavanging suffers.See our article on performance exhausts for details of the issue around large bore exhausts and how to choose the right size for your engine.

Getting a professionally flowed head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. As you increase power in your ZT you may find that the clutch will start to slip and this needs to be uprated - read our article on clutches for more information.  It is worth noting that the Rover MEMS cannot be tuned/remapped so to get a custom map installed you'll need an aftermarket ECU or a chip upgrade. 

 You will see big power gains on most turbo engined cars including diesels making a tune/remap one of the most cost effective modifications.Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Superchargers are generally easier to add than turbos. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. The nice steady boost to rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

MG ZT Wheel modifications.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the ZT Big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this is due to the change in your effective final drive ratio. Although some people have gone larger we would stick to a 19 inch rim size as the maximum.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss ZT options in more detail with our ZT owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased MG tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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2 Responses to “Tuning the MG ZT”

  1. daz says:

    hi im in need of some lowering springs for my 2004 1.8t mgzt-t 160 ,any ideas 🙁

  2. Gavin says:

    Can you lower a MG ZTT ( the big boat ) on Ben lower springs or any other springs to get her low ? Thanks

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