MG Montego Turbo

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ARG bill the new MG Montego Turbo as “the fastest production MG ever made” and with a top speed of 126 mph and 0-60 mph taking a claimed 7.3 sec, it is certainly that. The company could equally, though, bill the car as the most luxurious production MG ever made. We used to wonder how the Japanese managed to include so many extras at a competitive price, now we can ask the same of ARG for, given this car’s performance and equipment, £10,300 seems very reasonable indeed.

Power assisted steering is standard as are electrically operated windows, central locking, electrically adjusted and heated door mirrors, a steel sliding sunroof, a stereo radio / cassette player with four speakers, twin rear reading lamps and a cigar lighter in the rear as well. More, the car exudes an air of refinement with particularly comfortable seats and a well finished interior. Externally, it may be distinguished from the normally aspirated MG Montego by a slightly deeper front air dam and rear spoiler and some fairly discreet badging.

On this model, an analogue dashboard is standard with no all-singing, all-dancing, digital option. Indeed the electronic display and voice synthesiser is now available only as an optional extra for both the Maestro and Montego. We never did like them but they served a purpose in that they announced that ARG was in the forefront of technology. The dashboard and controls are, like the rest of the ARG range, extremely well laid out.

I’ve always rated the Montego highly in many important areas. Its ride, for example, is outstanding and the Turbo version manages to continue the trend even though the suspension has been stiffened. The pas seems to be an improvement on the standard Montego steering, it is fairly light but with plenty of feel, and the addition of a Garrett turbocharger removes most of the coarseness of the 1,994 cc “O” series engine above 4,000 rpm. Turbo boost (which is unusually high for a road car with a maximum of 10 psi) is strong from 1,500 rpm onwards so power is progressive, and the engine produces 150 bhp at 5,100 rpm with a mighty 169 lb/ft torque at 3,500 rpm. It really is an impressive motor.

The trouble comes when all that muscle is delivered to the front wheels for the steering, which is normally very precise, becomes nervous and there is an excessive amount of torque steer. I am surprised that a limited slip differential is not included in the package for the twitchiness of the steering up to 60 mph spoils what is otherwise a terrific motor car which approaches the Lotus Excel in performance figures and which offers a great deal of equipment at the price. — M.L.

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