MG's sporty ZR hatchback has been updated and while it will be available in the UK in about two months, MG Rover South Africa has no idea when it will arrive here.

MG's ZR hatchback has been updated. It will be available in the UK in about two months, but MG Rover South Africa has no idea when it will arrive here.

MG's response to the bevy of hot hatches in South Africa has been the MG ZR. Available in five derivatives, the current ZR (shown below) has been met with lukewarm response since its release in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Updated features on the ZR are new exterior styling including a new bumper with a revised grille and clear lens coverings across the twin headlights. The rear end has been upgraded as well with the boot and bumper duo appearing sleeker than the current model's. The fascia has been dragged back to design surgery as well with the most notable update being the four circular air vents incorporated into the new design.

How long will it take before the new-look ZR makes its appearance on South African roads? "I can't tell you when," was all that was offered by Yvette Harmse of MG Rover SA when speaking to CARtoday.com on Tuesday.

The Rover 25 - on which the Rover Streetwise is based - has been taken under the knife too and now sports much of the changes seen on its stable-mate, the MG ZR. When asked whether the Rover 25's changes would be filtering through to the recently launched Streetwise, the response was, "Its brand new so there won't be any changes made."

The MG ZR and, though not sold locally, Rover 25 are just two MG Rover models that have recently been sent in for a bit of a "nip-and-tuck". Harmse concurred that the entire range was being updated and though noted that the updates mainly formed part of the independent companies' 80th and centenary birthday celebrations, she simply put it down to being "time for a change."

Profound, considering the entire MG Rover fleet has been given more facelifts than Liz Taylor or Michael Jackson and is still not regarded as the belle of the ball. And while the new look may be refreshing, could the ZR perhaps be suffering from a case of the "bullied blues" in this cutthroat market?