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MGF/TF Published: 18th Jan 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Why not own a…? MGF/TF

MG unwittingly saved its best sports car until last when it launched the MGF, a car founder Cecil Kimber would have been decidedly proud of. Even though MG had been out of the game for 15 years it certainly kept abreast with designs and its mid-engined F was highly advanced yet still had the fl air of a traditional MG. It’s true that the model did gain a reputation and this has caused interest to remain low but a good one is joy and values can only go onwards and upwards. So why not get in on the act?

Model choice

Essentially, there’s two models with the MGF/TF name change the most obvious changeover point between them. The original runs on Metro-style Hydragas suspension and subframes, the later on conventional coil springs. Engine choices span from 1.6-1.8 in various states of tune and a choice of manual and automatic transmissions. Only one base trim was made but improved by a shed load of special editions, too many to list here but most are certainly worth having if the spec and price is right.

Apart from the transition to the TF (identified by a new nose) the other change occurred when the new Chinese owners relaunched the car in 2008 with a singular 135bhp engine; the LE500 Limited Edition. Just over a year later, in September 2009, the TF135 is introduced alongside an 85th Anniversary special edition run of just 50 cars.

Best models include the 145bhp VVC and the 158bhp Trophy 160 MGF, the later sporting a specially turned classic and racing AP brakes, the worst perhaps the automatics as neither (a conventional fl appy paddle Steptronic followed by the CVT Stepspeed) does this sports car justice plus they can be expensively unreliable. However, the main selling point has to be condition as many cars are in poor, neglected shape.

The general consensus is that the F is more comfortable and the TF very firm, although the very last of the line had a much better compromise between ride and handling (kits to soothe the ride are readily available). Don’t pay over the top for the later special editions, unless they happen to come with a trim package that you particularly want.

Behind the wheel

The first thing to note is that, as you approach the car, it does not have the classic MG proportions or image. There are some nice references to the past though, such as the traditional ivory backing to the dials and the famous MG octagon on display. Taller drivers may notice a resemblance to past MGs, in that they still have to hunker down to see comfortably below the header rail. The steering wheel height is non-adjustable, and quite low set, plus there’s no room to rest your left foot comfortably.

Due to the mid-engined layout, gear change movement is not that precise and varies from car to car – some have been likened to an early Maxi (not good!) while others feel solid and direct.

The crisp K-Series 1.8 engine (also found in the Land Rover Freelander), is universally praised whatever the power output. Even in standard 120bhp 1.8i tune delivers more than enough pep and a good one will see off a TR6. The VVC is quicker against the stopwatch but needs more working at it; on the other hand the 1600cc MGF is quite lively.

For some strange reason, the MG’s gearing (apart from the 1.6) is tall for a sportster and, while 70mph at under 3000rpm pleases the ears and economy, it robs most models of the snap urge a sports car should have but it does lead to impressive economy of up to 40mpg.

All have generous-sized tyres that grip well. Unlike most mid-engined designs a degree of understeer was designed into the MG and this makes both the F and TF very easy even for a novice to just jump into and drive quickly in confidence. The flip side is that the ride may be too soft for some traditional sports car lovers, although early TFs went the opposite way, with a suspension that most regarded as too harsh from the outset.

Tyres make a difference to the way this MG performs; some makes aren’t recommended while many are not and should not be used at all – speak to an MGF specialist for advice.

Some owners say that the electric power steering is devoid of old fashioned feel (it can be deactivated) but it’s preferable to non assisted MGFs we feel.

In short, a good MGF/TF is made for modern motoring and far more civilised than the MGB (many owners enjoy both) with a hood that’s almost as good as the MX-5s. Add a comforting heater and air

The car’s timeline


Launched and uses a clever development of the Allegro’s novel Hydragas suspension system plus an electrically-operated power steering option with the mounted engine mid-ships powered via a Honda gearbox.


The first of a long series of special editions is announced: there’s Brooklands Green paint, beige leather trim and hood, 16-inch alloy wheels and some extra chrome.


Optional power steering is now standardised. More special editions surface such as the Abingdon, SE and the Freestyle.


The 75 LE, commemorates 75 years of MG production. With black and red paint, leather trim and extra chrome, there are also multispoke 16-inch alloys. Just four months later, that September, a revised MGF is announced for the 2000 model year, with detail changes and a body-coloured windscreen surround.


A light revise, including a more traditional wood-trimmed cockpit. Mechanically, the CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) concept called Servotronic that also allowed manual changes was offered.


A 160bhp Trophy version is launched. Hydragas suspension was modified, ride height lowered by 20mm, competition-style springs and dampers were fitted in tandem with the gas suspension, plus AP racing brakes. The (post BMW) CVT transmission is upgraded and renamed Stepspeed.


In February, after 42,000 UK sales, the MGF was no more. In its place came the similar-styled TF (a name dating back to the 1950’s roadster) complete with a new nose and – chiefly – an entirely new chassis layout that ditched the old Allegro underpinnings in favour of orthodox springs and shock absorbers.


After various limited edition models have been built, including the Sprint (2002), Cool Blue and Sunstorm (2003), 80th Anniversary and Spark (2004), the TF is revised late in the year with a much more compliant suspension. Cars also get a new hood with glass rear screen.


The revisions are short-lived as the money runs out in April 2005 and MG-Rover goes into administration. It is eventually bought by NAC in China, which in turn is bought by SAIC . Production ended in 2010.

Here’s six of the best reasons to buy one

  • Great value for money
  • Clever advanced design
  • Satisfying to drive
  • Typical MG specialist support
  • Simple to maintain
  • A sleeping but emerging classic


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