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A Guide To The 3's MG UK Ancestry.


The MG ZR (August 2001 - April 2005)

The MK1 (2001-2004)

Soon after the departure of BMW (some say, it was about 5 minutes), the newly formed MG-Rover company launched 3 brand new MG models, under the 'Zed' moniker. Fun was back for the younger MG owner with an array of bright colours, sharp handling, body styling with allow wheels and was all affordable for the younger driver. Personalisation options were also available via a brand new Monogram scheme, which allowed a wider choice of colours, including flip paint and interior trim options.

2004 MG ZR

Picture, courtesy of GT @

It had been 11 years since it's MG predecessor and as with many MG 'saloons' the ZR's roots were in another marque from within the British empire. It was however so successful, it became the UK's top selling hot-hatch and as MG were so proud to announce, even their lowly 1.4 NASP could outperform a 2.0 Golf GTi of similar age.

Engine choices were:

    1.4 Petrol (103Ps)
    1.8 Petrol (117Ps)
    1.8VVC Petrol (157Ps)
    2.0 Diesel (101Ps)
    2.0 Diesel (115Ps)

The MK1 underwent 2 main revisions, which we'll call the MK1a and the MK1b. You may often see a reference to a 'MY03' which denotes the update that actually took place during the late 2002 '52' Registrations.

The MK1a shared most of it's bodywork with the Rover 25 and made use of the Rover 25 GTi's bodykit, albeit with an MG front grille.

The MK1b gained new front and rear bumpers. The bodykit was no more as the front bib and MG grille were now part of a one-piece front bumper assembly. The rear bumper meanwhile integrated the previously separate diffuser into a single piece unit. The rear spoiler also became a single piece unit and gained a styling revision with a slight upwards flick and new central support arm. Internally, the interior was revised with a change of plastic material and simplification of the design, removing items like the insets on the doors and on the passenger side of the dashboard.

MK2 (2004-2005)

2004 saw a revision across the whole Zed range and the ZR was no exception. Although sharing the body-shell and engines with the MK1 ZR, dramatic styling changes were made both inside and out.

The MG ZR got a complete new front, including headlamps, front bumper and grille. The side-skirts were also replaced with a fresh design. The most dramatic update however was probably at the rear, with the boot-lid being the only metalwork to get a re-mould by removing the number plate panel and electrics and relocating them into a brand new rear bumper and being replaced by a much larger MG octagon badge than the MK1. It was clear now that the ZR was considered the default model to use the R3 body-shell it had originally borrowed from another marque and it's Rover sibling was now the poor cousin.

Inside, the MK2 got a whole new dashboard mould, with new circular 'SV-style' round air vents, updated instrumentation and a new layout for all the switchgear and stereo options. There was also a choice of new fascia options in more modern and upmarket materials such as dark oak. The only real shame was that the default sandpaper-like matt silver fascia was a bit of a let down. In addition to the dashboard, the seats were revised with new bolstering, designs and materials.

Aesthetics were not the only updates made to the MK2. The base specification was raised, providing more as standard (no more manual windows!) and major changes were made to the alarm & immobisle systems. New features such as an auto-lock upon driving and a car-jacking alarm button mounted on the dash were also added.

Almost immediately after release it seems that they made even further updates to the MK2, although these were even more subtle. Mostly revolving around spec changes to provide a better baseline and keep production costs lower, the only real parts changes were the 3rd high-level brake light from red to clear/silver tinted and the rear light clusters on most models were now from ABC Designs, which had been available as an after-market choice for the MK1.

MG Metro (1982-1990)

The MG Metro is about as controversial an MG as they come. Based almost entirely on an Austin Metro, they didn't even change the name.

The first MG to be produced since to closure of the MG factory at Abingdon, it's largely regarded at not a 'proper MG', a nomenclature that has stuck to almost every new MG since. Metro owners however are well known to love their cars with extreme geekdom and often take pleasure knowing that without the Metro, there would be no MGF.


Picture, courtesy of Executive Valeting Services

The MG Metro was largely about red carpets, seat belts, funky seats, decals and those famous pepperpot alloy wheels. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's hydragas luxury suspension? But it's lasting legacy is probably the engines. The base MG Metro 1300 was fitted with the Mini Cooper engine whilst the MG Metro Turbo was exactly what it said on the tin! Sadly this is the reason why there were so many scrapped when they could have been saved. Mini owners everywhere were realising what MG was offering that they couldn't have and proceeded to cannibalise

As with most cars, the MG Metro too received a facelift and an interior update. Much of the switchgear was moved from the centre console to today's more conventional locations around the steering wheel. The dashboard mould was re-done and made far more 80's than the 70s styling it originally took. Externally saw the fuel filler cap move to the rear wing, whilst the front of the car was re-panelled and made taller, with new grille, headlamps and bumpers finishing off the more completed look.


No article about the MG Metro could be mentioned without it's halo model, the MG Metro 6R4!

The 6R4 is unlike any other Metro. The project was completed in partnership with Williams F1 and produced a would-class Group-B Rally car, a class which was eventually banned because the cars and racing conditions were just too extreme for the day. With a 3.5ltre V6 engine, installed right behind the drivers seat, separated by only a piece of perspex, noise levels were high enough to require additional ear-protection, even in the homolitigated run of road-going cars.

An extra wide wheel base, meant for big arches and air-scoops needed to keep the engine cool. Topped off with it's trademark snow-plough aerodynamic changes and there's certainly no mistaking it for a regular Metro.

It's sufficient to say this is definitely a cult car with a very large following and many examples still race to this day in motocross and rallying championships up and down the country. If you get the oppotunity, get yourself down to go see one in action!

Video, courtesy of GT @

MG 1100 / 1300 (1968-1971)

The first small family MG since the war, it was drawn up as a BMC group platform designed for many of the marques within, by none other than Sir Alec Issigonis, of Mini fame.

The platform is commonly referred too as ADO16, which encompasses all marque variations, from Austin to Vanden Plas. For MG this meant both 3dr and 5dr variations, 1100 and 1275 A-series engines (the later being available in the MG Metro) and a distinctive front-end to set it apart from it's Austin and Morris siblings, with it's all front grille, putting it closer in styling terms to the upmarket Vanden Plas. This is also one of MG's most popular small family cars, previously available on the international market, something not really surpassed until the launch of the MG3.

Fortunately, the ADO16 is still a much loved enthusiasts classic, more information can be found on the ADO16 website.

MG KN Magnette (1932-1935)

Proving that small, affordable, fun and practical MG's were possible, the MG KN was produced in the 1930's. One might argue that it's funky feature of having no central pillar between the doors was not a key safety feature, but it's a styling innovation still used today by the Mazda RX8 - another fun, but small 4-seater. Worthy of note is that even at this early stage, that MG was borrowing heavily from other marques, the engine is largely the same as found is some Wolseley's.

More information on the MG KN at the MG Owners Club Website

MG3 - Previous Uses Of The Name


MG3 - Chinese Domestic Market MK2.

Following on the success of the MG3-SW, the team at Longbridge were tasked with creating an all-new car to replace it. Initially shown around the world as the MG Zero concept, the production car was quite dramatically toned down by the time it made it to the actual roads.

MG Zero Concept

Picture, courtesy of MG Motors UK @

Fitted with an all-new 1.5l engine and producing around 105Ps, the new car has proven to be as popular as the one it replaces. Sales have been helped along by the vast quantity of personalisation options, from body decals to 2-tone paint jobs. It also comes with multiple choices of interior colours, alloy wheels and aftermarket body styling options.


Picture, courtesy of MG Motors UK @


As history already notes, NAC was merged with Shanghai Motors 'SAIC'. At this point, the new models started to make traction and the real changes made to the new 'MG3' was that it became solely based on the Rover Streetwise, as the UK knew it. Once again a mix of earlier models and also with some adaptations to remove the Rover branding. The front panels and headlamps appear to have stayed MK1 Streetwise, but inside it's more of a MK2.


Picture, courtesy of SAIC MG@

The new fun chunky styling and British heritage have made this car an enormous hit in China and opened up the market for a rebirth of MG. The car has proven as popular in it's new home market as it has in it's original, complete with it's own clubs, social gatherings and large scale events.

MG3 - CDM MG ZR Variation

Just after the acquisition of the MG model rights by the Chinese manufacturer Nanjing Automobile Corporation, 'NAC' began working on a domestic market version of the MG ZR. Largely the same as the UK vehicle, in LHD form, most of the modifications were adaptations of the existing panels. There were various models shown around, most of which were an odd mix of both generations of MG ZR and even Rover parts. The only 'new' feature witnessed appeared to be the inclusion of door mirror mounted indicators.

Chinese MG ZR

Picture, courtesy of China Car Times @