It has been said that the MG Maestro was never planned for during the LM10 development programme – certainly, early prototypes were badged as Austin Maestro EXPs.
The MG badged versions came along as a result of the success of the MG Metro and as a result of this hasty development, the first MG Maestro 1600s were considered to be a rather patchy car…
MG Maestro 1600
Hastily developed and half cooked is a rather honest description of the MG Maestro 1600. In order to extract a competitive power output from the R-Series engine (up from 81bhp to 103bhp), the single electronically controlled SU carburettor was replaced by a throaty twin Weber set-up. The induction noise of this car sounded terrific, but the downside was the well-documented problem of excessive heat build-up under the bonnet leading to fuel starvation and hot-starting problems. Also, customers did not take too well to the solid state instrument pack, shared with the Vanden Plas version. Nevertheless, there were many appealing aspects to the package: the accomodation, like all Maestros was generous and airy, the seats were exceptionally comfortable and performance was on the rapid side of acceptable.
The R-Series version was replaced by an S-Series version of the MG Maestro 1600 in July 1984, but lived a very short life – 2722 S-series cars were produced in total.
Performance: 0-60mph, 9.6seconds, maximum speed, 110mph
MG Maestro EFi
From under-achiever to class leader in one fell swoop: the MG Maestro EFi was transformed by the addition of the injected version of the O-Series engine and Honda PG-1 gearbox. Performance was lifted by the new 115bhp engine, but not only that, the build quality of these 1985 model Maestros had improved in leaps and bounds over their earlier counterparts and as a result, the car soon became known as a viable Golf GTi/XR3i rival. Practicality was always on the side of the Maestro, but somehow glamour was not - and it soon became criminally ignored by the image conscious drivers the company was targeting.
Without doubt the MG Maestro EFi (later badged MG Maestro 2.0i) was the finest mass-market car that Austin Rover offered during the 1980s.
Performance: 0-60mph, 8.4seconds, maximum speed, 114mph
MG Maestro Turbo
Covered in more detail in the Maestro development story, the Turbo version of the MG Maestro came about as a last hurrah for saloon MGs in the 'eighties and the Maestro itself, in particular. 505 were produced in total, the bodystyling was by Tickford and the road manners were good, if not class leading. 152bhp endowed the turbocharged Maestro with what can only be described as sensational acceleration. Of course, by the time of its launch in 1989, the car was already well past its prime - the rest of the industry (and Rover themselves in the Honda-derived range) was fast moving away from forced induction, embracing multi-valve technology.
Performance: 0-60mph, 6.6seconds, maximum speed, 129mph.