The new MG ZT 260 is a V8 powered rear driver
23rd July, 2004
MG Rover Australia has launched the V8 powered MG ZT 260. The rear-wheel drive vehicle is powered by a 260 bhp 4.6-litre V8 engine producing an awesome 410Nm of torque.
Rob Oldaker, MG Rover Group’s Product Development Director, commented: “The MG ZT 260 V8 demonstrates our commitment to deliver cars of true pedigree and character. This is a truly rewarding car to drive. Our choice of a big, torquey engine has been vindicated as this is a deceptively quick and efficient sports sedan. The more you drive it, the more you appreciate its unique ‘muscle car’ character that flies in the face of our competitors’ trend towards buzzy high-revving engines.
Michel De Vriendt, Managing Director of MG Rover Australia commented: “The MG ZT 260 V8 is promising to be a very exciting model for our network. Australia has a firmly entrenched passion for the V8 engine; for their exhilarating performance, low down torque and classic unmistakable V8 burble. We believe the MG ZT V8 will sit very nicely beside our current ZT quad cam V6 and supercharged model line, proving to be an ideal alternative to the current crop of European sports sedans.”
The ZT 260 is a fully engineered evolution of the front-wheel drive ZT. Clever installation techniques have permitted the larger capacity engine and rear-wheel drive power-train to be incorporated within the robust bodyshell, without major visual changes. Below the skin the platform is largely new with significant changes to many functional vehicle systems to accommodate the revised drive-line layout, to produce a car of great driving character.
Recently a development ZT-T V8 was taken to the Salt Flats at Bonneville, Utah where the MG achieved a maximum speed of 225mph from a specially tuned V8 engine variant; now recognised officially as the ‘World’s Fastest Wagon’.
Design and Development
The development engineers were briefed to deliver the ultimate antidote to a world without soul. The challenges involved in transforming the drive platform and packaging a large capacity V8 engine into the existing front-wheel drive vehicle should not be underestimated. Advanced computer techniques were used to package the new hardware without sacrificing the strengths of the established ZT platform. Sophisticated modelling techniques were used to refine the kinematics of the completely new multi-link rear axle configuration and to ensure that despite the revised engine installation, the car continues to meet the latest standards for occupant protection in all its markets.
Given the magnitude of the changes, it is no surprise that ZT has been extensively tested, seeing action in climates ranging from the bitterly harsh conditions of the Swedish winter through to the burning heat of high speed testing in Arizona and here in Australia earlier this year.
In addition to the ZT’s recent enhancements, the 2004 ZT 260 also provides improved pedal placement for superior sports car drivability as well as additional rear leg room with resigned seat geometry.
Externally there is little clue to the extent of body structure changes necessary to accommodate the new rear-wheel drive power unit, indeed ZT 260, with exception to its alloy wheel design and quad rear tailpipes, shares the same acclaimed style of the new front-wheel drive ZT’s. Extensive changes have been made to the under-floor, with new designs for the front and rear floor, as well as an enlarged transmission tunnel to accommodate the in-line gearbox. A new manufacturing facility has been commissioned alongside the existing sophisticated ZT manufacturing line to ensure these changes to the body are delivered to consistently high quality standards.
The ZT 260 utilises Ford’s proven and highly respected 4.6-litre V8 engine, widely used in North America to power the iconic Ford Mustang. Extensive modifications have been made to the powertrain to assist in packaging the engine while MG’s engineers have also developed new intake, exhaust and emissions control systems to ensure the vehicle complies with stringent European noise and emission legislation.
The exhaust system, twinned for most of the length of the car, is distinguished by new quad-tailpipes. Outside the system produces the classic V8 burble, while inside the cabin remains quiet until aroused by the throttle when it resounds to the sporting note of a true thoroughbred.
The unique engine management system has been jointly developed with Roush Industries.
ZT 260 features Tremec’s TR3650 five-speed manual gearbox, manufactured in North America. The unit has been extensively modified to meet MG’s needs and features unique gearing to suit the demands of European driving. MG’s engineers have also developed an all-new gear selection system and bespoke hydraulic clutch actuation to ensure precise and positive gear changes. A 4-speed automatic derivative will also be available in the 4th quarter 2004.
The rear axle features Dana’s Hydratrak® limited slip differential system, which utilises vane-pump principles to ensure continuous and seamless torque transmission to both rear wheels in the event of wheel speed differential.
Steering and Suspension
The ZT 260’s steering and suspension systems have evolved radically to match the performance of the V8 power unit. Developed by driving enthusiasts for enthusiasts, the team focused their efforts on honing the car’s classic rear-drive handling to provide seamless, fluid and adjustable attitude control under the widest range of conditions. The result is a car that blends day-to-day ease of use with the driver-rewards of a true thoroughbred.
Power steering, driven by a higher capacity pump, is now via a new forward mounted rack layout providing excellent feel and driver feedback to the leather-bound wheel.
The geometry of the ZT's MacPherson strut front suspension has been tuned to the requirements of the new chassis platform. A new design of upright is matched to Eibach linear rate springs and a new, larger diameter anti-roll bar. Wheel response is controlled by Bilstein monotube struts, which combine a large piston area for fine tuning resolution with very high bending stiffness for improved camber control. The design employs a significantly revised subframe, which provides a stable operating platform for the chassis while also acting as a key loadpath in the event of a major impact.
A new multi-link rear suspension has been developed specifically for the ZT 260 V8. A new six-mount subframe houses the Hydratrak® differential, while each wheel is located by three lateral links (two steel and one light-alloy) and a light alloy trailing arm. Compound rate springs, also sourced from race specialist Eibach, work in conjunction with Bilstein monotube dampers to provide excellent wheel control. Roll behaviour is controlled by a new anti-roll bar.
ZT 260 has a new H-split braking system providing excellent stopping power. At the front, proven large capacity 325 mm ventilated discs and sliding-pin calipers are specified. At the rear a new AP-Racing sourced brake system is specified with 332mm ventilated discs and opposed piston alloy callipers.
MG ZT / ZT-T 260 V8