MG F / MG TF
|MG F and TF|
|Manufacturer||MG (Rover Group, later MG Rover) (1995–2005)
MG Motor (Nanjing, later SAIC Motor) (2007–2011)
|Assembly||Longbridge, Birmingham, UK
Pukou, Nanjing, China
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-seat convertible|
|Layout||Transverse mid-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Engine||1.6 L K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L VVC K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L N-Series engine
The MG F and later MG TF are mid-engined, rear wheel drive roadster cars that were produced by MG from 1995 until 2005, and by MG Motor from 2007 until 2011. The MG F was the first all-new car to bear the MG marque since the MG MGB that was produced from 1962 to 1980. Production of the MG TF paused in 2005, when MG Rover went into receivership, and resumed in 2007 under the company's new owners Nanjing of China.
MG had stopped producing sports cars in 1980 when British Leyland closed their Abingdon, Oxfordshire plant, although the MG badge was used on badge-engineered hatchbacks and saloons between 1982 and 1991. In 1992, the company (by this time Rover Group) restarted production of the classic MGB as the limited-edition RV8, and positive reaction led the company to develop the MG F. It was revised and renamed using the historic TF name in 2002, but production was halted following the collapse of the MG Rover Group in 2005. However, after Nanjing Automobile Group acquired the rights to the MG TF, the completion of the new MG factory in Nanjing saw production being restarted in March 2007.
The MG F was launched in the autumn of 1995 by the Rover Group, making it the third all-new car to be launched in its first full year since the BMW takeover. It was powered by a 1.8 L K-Series 16-valve engine, the basic having 118 hp (87 kW) while the more powerful VVC (variable valve control) had 143 hp (107 kW). Rover Special Projects oversaw the development of the F's design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover's in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. An interesting feature of the F was its Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers which provided a surprisingly compliant ride but which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002.
The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 and gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp (119 kW) variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time.
An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. The MG F continued to sell well in spite of the sale of the Rover Group, which was announced in March 2000. Land Rover was sold to Ford, while the MG and Rover marques were sold to the Phoenix consortium for £10.
Project EXF represents a limited production of five single-seat MG F sports cars that allude to historic land-speed records set by MG between 1930 and 1959. Known simply as the F, the MG car features largely standard MG F components, a turbocharged 1.4L (329 bhp) Rover K-Series engine, and a drag coefficient of less than 0.25. On 20 August 1997, the F achieved a top speed of 217 mph (349 km/h) at the SpeedWeek festivities in Bonneville, Utah, USA.
In 2002 the MG TF was released, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes include a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills, rear boot, etc.
It held a decent amount of sales despite its listed problems, most common of which was the uneven shut lines on the drivers door on UK models. Production was suspended in 2005 when MG Rover collapsed.
|Euro NCAP 2003 TF||Points||Rating|
|Adult Occupant:||26.0 out of 36||
|Pedestrian Impact:||19.3 out of 36||
|ANCAP 2005 TF||Points||Rating|
|Overall Score:||26.03 out of 37|
|Offset Impact:||10.48 out of 16|
|Side Impact:||15.55 out of 16|
Nanjing Automobile Group production
In March 2007, Nanjing Automobile Group, which bought MG Rover's remaining assets during bankruptcy proceedings, restarted production of the MG TF at its Nanjing factory, with a capacity of 200,000 cars a year. Experts from the Longbridge factory were involved in building the new TFs in Nanjing.
In August 2008, more than three years after the facility had closed due to MG Rover's bankruptcy, assembly of a lightly revised MG TF model for the European market, from Chinese-built complete knock down (CKD) kits, was started by NAC MG UK at Longbridge.
The first TF model to be produced by NAC MG UK was the TF LE500. As the name suggests this was a limited edition of 500 cars each individually numbered. The better suspension set-up and the heated rear window from the 2005 model TF were carried over to the LE500, however, various changes were made including a restyled front grille and bumper. The LE500 specification includes leather seats, hard top and soft top, wind stop, CD tuner with MP3 compatibility, rear parking sensors, 16-inch 11-spoke alloy wheels, and front fog lights. It was priced higher than a modern Mazda MX5 despite its few changes from 1995, which had a large negative effect on sales.
The LE500 was followed by a TF 135 model and a further limited edition TF 85th Anniversary, of which only 50 were produced.
Production of the TF at Longbridge was suspended again in October 2009 due to low demand in face of the recession. Production resumed in the new year, but the end of production was finally announced in March 2011 due to lack of demand and component supply problems. A total of 906 TFs were produced at Longbridge under Chinese ownership.
Throughout its production, the MG sold successfully. In a number of road tests the MGF impressed and was a match to its main rivals the Mazda MX-5 and BMW Z3 in terms of handling, performance and practicality, but the MG F just missed out in standards of build quality, reliability and UK dealer support which was poor in comparison to its Japanese and German rivals.
However, after Nanjiing took over and restarted production, the car's sales plummeted until production was eventually ceased in March 2011. Parkers gave the car 2.5/5 and said its pros were "Styling, handling and brand heritage" and cons were "Dated interior, patchy build quality and poor reliability." This is unsurprising given the basic design was by now over 16 years old. WhatCar? gave it 2/5 saying its pros were that it is "pretty and affordable" but its cons were "The driving position and steering are not what you'd expect in such a sporty car." AutoExpress reviewed it after Nanjiing took over and also had a 2/5 verdict, liking how it was "well equipped and compact" but disliking how it was priced more expensive than a basic Mazda MX5, stating it has "barely changed since 1995 and can be mistaken for a much older vehicle" and also commenting on its cramped interior.
The K-Series engine used in the MG F has gained a reputation for head gasket failure. This is mainly due to the design and placement of the thermostat, however the installation of the headgasket was also a major factor. Other factors include insufficient width between the cylinders, build tolerances, block face stiffness, casting quality, gasket material, and cooling system layout (the engine is at the back and the radiator is at the front).
Due to the placement of the thermostat on the intake side of the water pump at the base of the block the head can overheat before sufficient heat is transmitted through the block to allow the thermostat to open. Thermal shock from cooling the block rapidly and the thermostat closing abruptly due to cold water from the radiator cooling the opening spring can result in insufficient coolant reaching as far as the head, which can cause different expansion and contraction rates between the head and the block. This combined with the early practice of installing the head gasket with plastic locating dowels, which subsequently melted when the engines overheated, allowed the head gaskets to "walk." A redesigned head gasket, which consists of a multiple layer metal gasket or "MLS" used in conjunction with steel locating dowels, is alleged to significantly reduce the chance of a head gasket failure. There is no replacement engine that is a suitable replacement for the K-series motor. Apart from the head-gasket problem, MGF and TF models are said to have few major faults.
The engine for the K series was sourced from the existing Rover line and was mainly intended as a front engined commuter vehicle power source. The design compromise of locating the thermostat on the pump intake rather than the head outlet originates in this original use. A common aftermarket modification by those who intent to drive their MGFs spiritedly is to install an Inline thermostat in the outlet pipe from the head to the radiator. This head gasket problem is also found on K series engined Lotus Elises and is also commonly solved by thermostat relocation.
- "Safety Fast". [www.mgcc.co.uk MG Car Club]. 1 October 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
- "MG TF; Euro NCAP – For safer cars crash test safety rating". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 2014-06-26.
- "Business | Chinese plant rolls out first MG". BBC News. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- Shen, Irene (10 June 2007). "MG car line reborn with a made-in-China label". The Boston Globe.
- "In Pictures | In pictures: Chinese MG cars". BBC News. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- "UK | England | West Midlands | Production resumes at Longbridge". BBC News. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- Bird, Guy (2008-08-29). "MG TF LE500 (2008) CAR review". CAR magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "Press Report : MG making 85th Anniversary model at Longbridge". www.aronline.co.uk. AROnline. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "BBC News: No car production 'until spring'". news.bbc.co.uk (BBC). 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "MG6 : Production gets underway at Longbridge today". AROnline. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- "Home - Car Reliability Index | Reliability Index | How reliable is your car?". Reliability Index. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
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