Aggressive on the outside yet composed within, the MG ZT 160 1,8 Turbo delivers a punch to the system as it takes to the roads with its calm and capable spirit.

Aggressive on the outside and composed within, the MG ZT 160 1,8 Turbo delivers a punch to the system as it takes to the roads with its calm and capable spirit.

Launched regionally in the Cape on Tuesday under cloudy skies, MG's 1,8-litre turbocharged offering was put through its paces. Aimed at the young and upcoming executive looking to acquire a saloon suited to his or her lifestyle with enough sporting attributes, at R265 000 this ZT could be the answer.

On the inside, extremely comfortable sports-styled seats make it all too easy to drift into a slumber (if you’re a passenger, that is!). The facia is kept simple, with a mix of gun-metal grey and black finishes, and the air conditioning and radio controls are large for easy identification.

Performance-wise, and this is meant to be an executive's answer to performance, the ZT is quite impressive. This five-speed manual offering is capable of reaching a top speed of 212km/h and, as per the manufacturer's claim, reaches 100km/h from standstill in 8,5 seconds. A maximum power output of 118kW at 5 500r/min and peak torque of 215N.m at 2 100r/min make it no slouch in the traffic either, and overtaking acceleration is good.

Travelling along the back roads of the Swartland is not easy on a car, but with its independent sports-style suspension - McPherson struts up front and a "Z" axle with coil springs at the rear - the MG remained poised. Riding on large 18-inch alloy wheels, the turbo ZT is rock solid and sticks to the road while remaining extremely responsive under steering.

This latest MG is a specification bonanza, with a wide range of paint and trim finishes and luxury features. Along with the obligatory power-steering, air conditioning and driver's height and lumbar adjustment, the ZT also comes equipped with some very convenient stowage spaces and a thumping six-speaker Kenwood ICE (In Car Entertainment).

Occupant safety is well taken care of with driver and passenger airbags (including side airbags), traction control and pretensioned front seat belts. The rear window and side mirrors are heated for those frosty mornings, and the gearshift looks elegant in its leather and alloy finish.

Exterior styling is very predatory with mean-looking twin headlamps positioned on either side of the jutting grille. Low-positioned indicator signals and fog lamps are visible at the front while a fairly high posterior with vertically positioned lights completes the look.

Designed to compete with the greatest of them, the MG ZT 160 1,8T leaves the showroom floor with a standard three-year / 100 000km warranty and three-year / 60 000 km maintenance plan. Services for this petrol version are required every 20 000 km.