|UK CAR Reviews: MG Metro Turbo|
As the Metro was the successor to the Mini. The Metro Turbo was supposed to be the spiritual successor to the Mini Cooper.............
The design brief was almost identical to that of the Coopers': take a practical little motor, make it go like s**t off a shovel, make it corner at absurd speeds and stop with eyeball popping g-force.
Unfortunately, development of this car was done by the marketing and styling departments and it's unlikely that any engineers ever got to put their ideas forward.
Outwardly, the car looks quite promising. Full body kit (colour matched on later versions), ventilated front discs, alloys and fat rubber, jazzy seats, chubby steering wheel, extra clocks and somewhat tarty red seat belts!
Pop the bonnet though and the horrible truth starts to dawn. The good old 'A' series motor sits staring at you, resplendent with the lowest tech turbo installation you will ever see! What should have been a fire breathing monster of a motor, is instead a low pressure damp squib! All it does is eat petrol rather quicker than a Metro should.
At full chat with the Turbo singing, there is barely, if any, performance advantage over a conventional twin carb 1275 Mini, 20 years its senior. All your hopes and dreams fade and die the first time an XR2 (the lukewarmest of hot hatches) passes you.
We could talk about the wonderful grip and roller-skate handling but what's the point? You haven't got the power to keep up with any hot hatch as soon as the road straightens.
Don't write in and quote manufacturers' figures at me as we've had two of these and they were both disappointing slugs.
If you really want a quick metro try the later 1400 K Series Sport, or maybe a 6R4.
After the above tirade from "Macho Mick" here's my view! The MG Metro Turbo, in my opinion, was a little belter of a car. With its nippy engine and plush interior, it was a very pleasing car to drive. I'm not going to get all technical here and start picking on how much redundant space there was under the bonnet but I will say that for a small hatchback, I had no complaints (other than its attractiveness to the two sets of scumbags that nicked ours!).
The MG's exterior was stylish and compact. I loved it's squat yet elegant shape and I don't remember ever seeing one in a naff colour - the manufacturers' choice of colours were excellent, suiting the class of car perfectly.
The interior was stylish and colour co-ordinated right down to the red seat belts (which were not "tarty"!) adding the finishing touches lacking in the majority of cars of that time. The boot capacity was adequate, seats up or down, and interior space sufficient for a car of that size. No such things as electric windows or height adjustable seats in ours but it did have wonderful sound-deadening so the stereo always sounded great. The instrument panel was easy on the eye but I had a particular fondness for the turbo boost indicator situated near the control handle for the sunroof (although many was a time I spent too much time watching its panels light up and nearly wrapped the car round a lamppost).
The driving position for me (bearing in mind that I am vertically challenged at only 5'2") was excellent and I never heard my much taller other half complain about lack of leg or headroom. The foot pedals were easy enough to reach and gear stick close enough to not be forced to sit on the outer cushion of the seat.
As far as handling goes, well, very nice thank you! Easy to steer, gripped the road well and putting your foot down was ace fun due to aforementioned turbo indicator and accompanying "whistling" sound emitted by the turbo as it wound up. Acceleration was quick enough and although I never pushed it beyond 100mph, that was my decision not the engine's. I can assure you that there seemed to be plenty left.
In final summation; overall a nice car, ideally suited in its day to a girlie-racer like me!
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