MG gets a Hot Hatchback for the masses
The days of the feline roadsters came to an end in the 80s, and the car scene changed for good. The buying public wanted hot hatchbacks and car manufacturers were more than happy to comply.
In 1980, Austin launched the Metro a replacement for the popular Mini. The Metro was rebadged, renamed and rebooted as its quality was enhanced. The Austin Metro changed name and format to become the Austin Mini Metro, Morris Metro, MG Metro, Rover Metro and the Rover 100 during its 18 years of production.
MG versions of the Metro became available. In 1982, The MG Metro and MG Metro Turbo wowed buyers with its sporty look and stylish interior. MG enthusiasts weren’t so impressed; this hot hatchback was a bit of a swerve away from the usual MG roadster. Little helped keep the MG name alive, it was a symbol of the past.
Austin had to change, and they introduced cars like the Golf GTI and the Ford Fiesta XR2.
The MG Metro was launched with a trim upgrade and an up-rated A Series engine with added horse power. The MG Metro Turbo hit the road in 1983, and, with a little help from Lotus, this hot hatchback could produce 93 bhp with a 0 to 60 mph under 10 seconds.
The little Metro kept the MG name alive through the eighties, and Austin went on to produce Maestro and Montego versions as well.
The Roadster was revitalised by Mazda in the nineties, with the MGRV8 being fitted with a powerful 3.9 cc V8 engine, but, less than 2,000 were eventually made.
The MG Metro came at a good time for Austin, keeping them up to date with the current car scene of the decade.
Today a decent MG Metro is a rare sight, and prices are increasing just like other hatchbacks of the era.
|Years Produced||1982 - 1990|
|Performance||0 - 60mph 9.9sec / Top Speed - 112mph|
|Power & Torque||93bhp / 87Ib ft|
|Engine||1275cc four cylinder / 8 valves / Turbo charged|
|Drive-train||front engine FWD|
|Transmission||Four speed manual|
A BUYERS GUIDE
As with most cars from the eighties, pay particular attention to rust, as it is one of the Metro’s Achilles heels.
Check everywhere including front panel, front wings, rear wheel arches, door bottoms, front and rear valances and outer-sills. Front and rear subframes usually don’t suffer, but are worth a check.
The A+ Series engine is generally reliable, but look out for head gasket problems usually recognised by over heating or oil in the water. Engine ignition systems can suffer from misfiring, and damp can prevent starting.
This may be spark plugs or distributor caps, although these problems are easily rectified.
The Hydragas suspension delivers a good ride, just check for fluid leaks at all pipe connections any problems are an easy fix.
Check the transmission oil levels, as it shares its lubricant with the engine and gearboxes can whine in first (perfectly normal) and jump out of second which could be down to worn synchromesh.
Interiors can be tatty, as seats are not that hard-wearing and back rests have occasionally collapsed, although all parts in the cab are reasonably easy to replace. Remember a good one is a sound investment.
The company Metro-Cammell insisted that British Leyland could only use the Metro name, if it was pre-fixed with the “Mini” moniker. This situation only lasted a short while, thanks to success of the car, and was conveniently forgotten by both parties.
Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says
“The eighties was a make or break time for BL and the Metro helped them overcome financial difficulties and the MG versions showed they were still keeping up with the competition.”