MG F / MG TF

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For the MG TF Midget of 1953 to 1955, see MG T-type.
MG F / MG TF
MG F Mark I.JPG
MGF Racing
Overview
Manufacturer Rover Group (1995–2000)
MG Rover (2000–2005)
MG Motor (2007–2011)
Body and chassis
Class Roadster
Body style 2-seat convertible
Layout Transverse Mid-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive
Chronology
Predecessor MGB
MG RV8

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.

History[edit]

MG had stopped producing sports cars in 1980 when British Leyland closed their Abingdon, Oxfordshire plant, although the badge of MG 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 April 2005. However, after Nanjing Automobile Group acquired the rights to the MG TF, the completion of the new factory for MG in Nanjing saw production being restarted in March 2007.

MG F[edit]

MG F
MG F Convertible.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer MG (Rover Group, later (MG Rover)
Production 1995–2002
Assembly Longbridge, Birmingham, UK
Body and chassis
Class Roadster
Body style 2-seat convertible
Layout Transverse Mid-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive
Powertrain
Engine 1.6 L K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L K-Series Straight-4
1.8 L VVC K-Series Straight-4

Mark I[edit]

MG F
MG F MK2 & Later MG TF Interior

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 takeover by BMW. 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.

Mark II[edit]

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. In spite of competition from the likes of Mazda MX-5, BMW Z3 and Audi TT, the MG F still proved fairly popular.

EXF[edit]

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, United States.[1]

Engines[edit]

Petrol engines
Model Engine Displacement Power Torque Top Speed 0-60 mph CO2 emissions
1.6 K-Series I4 1,589 cc 110 hp (112 PS; 82 kW) at 6,000 rpm - 116 mph 9.0s 177 g/km
1.8 K-Series I4 1,796 cc 118 hp (120 PS; 88 kW) at 6,000 rpm 165 N·m (122 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 118 mph 8.5s 182 g/km
1.8 K-Series
VVC
I4 1,796 cc 142 hp (144 PS; 106 kW) at 6,000 rpm 174 N·m (128 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 130 mph 7.0s 184 g/km
1.8 K-Series
VVC
I4 1,796 cc 157 hp (159 PS; 117 kW) at 6,000 rpm 174 N·m (128 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 137 mph 6.9s 179 g/km

MG TF[edit]

MG TF
MG TF 2002.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer MG MG Rover) (2002–2005)
MG Motor (Nanjing, later SAIC Motor) (2007–2011)
Production 2002–2005
2007–2011
Assembly Longbridge, Birmingham, UK
Pukou, Nanjing, China
Body and chassis
Class Roadster
Body style 2-seat convertible
Layout Transverse Mid-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive
Powertrain
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
Chronology
Predecessor MGB
MG RV8
MG TF

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 reengineered, 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 models for the United Kingdom. Production was suspended in April 2005, when MG Rover collapsed.

Safety[edit]

The MG TF was the first car of its class to be awarded a leading four star safety performance from Euro NCAP and ANCAP.

Euro NCAP 2003 TF[2] Points Rating
Adult Occupant: 26.0 out of 36 4/5 stars
72%
Pedestrian Impact: 19.3 out of 36 3/4 stars
54%
ANCAP 2005 TF[3] Points Rating
Overall Score: 26.03 out of 37 4/5 stars
Offset Impact: 10.48 out of 16
Side Impact: 15.55 out of 16

Engines[edit]

Petrol engines
Model Engine Displacement Power Torque Top Speed 0-60 mph CO2 emissions
1.6 K-Series I4 1,589 cc 114 hp (116 PS; 85 kW) at 6,000 rpm 145 N·m (107 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 118 mph 9.2s 169 g/km
1.8 K-Series Stepspeed (Auto) I4 1,796 cc 118 hp (120 PS; 88 kW) at 6,000 rpm 165 N·m (122 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 118 mph 9.7s 199 g/km
1.8 K-Series I4 1,796 cc 134 hp (136 PS; 100 kW) at 6,000 rpm 165 N·m (122 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 127 mph 8.2s 184 g/km
1.8 K-Series VVC I4 1,796 cc 157 hp (159 PS; 117 kW) at 6,000 rpm 174 N·m (128 lb·ft) at 4,500 rpm 137 mph 6.9s 179 g/km

Nanjing Automobile Group production[edit]

MG TF Produced By Nanjing

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.[4][5] Experts from the Longbridge factory were involved in building the new TFs in Nanjing.[6]

In August 2008, more than three years after the facility had closed due to the bankruptcy of MG Rover, 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.[7]

The first TF model to be produced by NAC MG UK was the TF LE500.[8] As the name suggests, this was a limited edition of five hundred 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. Styling was reminiscent of the original MGF, with an intake on either side of the MG badge, and a large single intake below the license plate.[9]

The LE500 specification includes leather seats, hard top and soft top, wind stop, CD tuner with MP3 compatibility, rear parking sensors, sixteen inch eleven 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 the model TF 135 and a further limited edition TF 85th Anniversary, of which only fifty were ever produced.[10]

Production of the TF at Longbridge was suspended again in October 2009, due to low demand in face of the recession.[11] 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.[12]

Concept Cars[edit]

XPower 500[edit]

Created by the XPower division of the MG Rover Group in 2001 as a one off to show the brand new XPower division and also to show what the engineers could do. The car was designed to accommodate the brand new XP-20 engine used in the MG-Lola EX257 race car with a Garrett turbocharger with an anti-lag system which achieves 500PS. The Power then goes through a 6 Speed sequential gearbox manufactured by X-Trac.

When built in 2001, the car was equipped with several upgrades over the standard car. It featured a seam welded bodyshell with a fully integrated T45 roll cage with strengthened subframes. The chassis comes complete with a Limited-slip differential, independent racing suspension and upgraded 4-Pot AP Racing Brakes. The car has 17" multi-spoke alloy racing wheels with 225/13 R17 tyres on the front, 265/13 R17 tyres on the rear and a bespoke rear wing.

Initially the XPower concept was designed for a brand new wild version of the MG TF, this never came around however and no concept car for a production XPower TF was created. Reportedly the car was set to feature a de-tuned XP-20 engine used in the XPower 500 concept and the MG-Lola race cars with around 300PS but the idea wasn't developed beyond the planning stage.

MG TF GT[edit]

Designed in 2005, at Dove in Norfolk by Peter Stevens and his team, at the same time as the Rover 75 Coupé, is the coupe MG TF, called the GT, similar to the Pininfarina designed MGB GT. It was unveiled before MG Rover Group collapsed in April 2005, and was shown at several events such as the AutoRAI in Amsterdam, alongside other cars such as the MG XPower SV.

The concept car was developed from a top of the range TF 160, and came with a grenadine interior (a rare option typically in the top of range TF's), brand new lowered bucket seats, 17" OZ five spoke wheels, a front splitter to improve aerodynamics and for the first time in a production/factory TF a 2.5L Rover KV6 engine. It was reported on forums for MG that the engine was changed to a standard 160 VVC 1.8L K Series sometime in 2005, although this is disputed and is also disputed as to whether the car received a KV6 in the first place.

When launched the car proposed several problems. The first of the problems with the coupe is engine access which because the car is a mid rear arrangement proposed several problems and made the car hard to work on, it is reported that the subframe had to be removed in order to work on the engine. The second problem is the KV6 powerplant which had to have a bespoke smaller fuel tank to fit in the engine bay as the standard fuel tank wouldn't fit, although disputed as to whether the car received the KV6 powerplant in the first place.

Former engineers at MG Rover reported that the car was close to entering production, and as soon as the end of 2005, the car could have been sold. However MG Rover went into receivership, and progress was halted. Nanjing were set to revive the idea and manufacture in the US in a brand new factory in Oklahoma employing 500 people. This idea also never came about with the LE500 and TF135 being the only TF produced by Nanjing at Longbridge, rather than a new purpose built facility in Oklahoma.

Reception[edit]

Throughout its production, the MG sold successfully. In a number of road tests, the MG F 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 dealer support within the United Kingdom, 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 sixteen years old.

What Car? 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."

Auto Express reviewed it after Nanjiing took over, and also had a verdict of 2/5, liking how it was "well equipped and compact" but disliking how it was priced more expensive than a basic Mazda MX-5, stating it has "barely changed since 1995, and can be mistaken for a much older vehicle" and also commenting on its cramped interior.

The engine of K Series 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 motor of K Series. Apart from the head gasket problem, MGF and TF models are said to have few major faults.[13]

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.[14][15] This head gasket problem is also found on K series engined Lotus Elises and is also commonly solved by thermostat relocation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Safety Fast". [www.mgcc.co.uk MG Car Club]. 1 October 1997. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "MG TF; Euro NCAP – For safer cars crash test safety rating". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ http://www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au/2005/MG/TF/135-2D-Convertible-5sp-man-1_8L-4cyl-Petrol/
  4. ^ "Business | Chinese plant rolls out first MG". BBC News. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  5. ^ Shen, Irene (10 June 2007). "MG car line reborn with a made-in-China label". The Boston Globe. 
  6. ^ "In Pictures | In pictures: Chinese MG cars". BBC News. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  7. ^ "UK | England | West Midlands | Production resumes at Longbridge". BBC News. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  8. ^ Bird, Guy (2008-08-29). "MG TF LE500 (2008) CAR review". CAR magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  9. ^ MGF History, www.mgf.ultimatemg.com Retrieved 29 July 2016
  10. ^ "Press Report : MG making 85th Anniversary model at Longbridge". www.aronline.co.uk. AROnline. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "BBC News: No car production 'until spring'". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "MG6 : Production gets underway at Longbridge today". AROnline. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Home - Car Reliability Index | Reliability Index | How reliable is your car?". Reliability Index. Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  14. ^ http://www.mgfcar.de/thermostat/Water_System_Mods.htm
  15. ^ http://www.mgf.ultimatemg.com/group2/common_problems/hgf_pages/cooling_system_modifications.htm

External links[edit]