The MGF is dead long live the new MG TF! MG Rover aims to lead a New Year roadster 'Rover'lution with its sports car, which will replace the top-selling MGF when it goes on sale next month.
This is the first official picture of the two-seater, which will make its world debut at the Brussels Motor Show next week. Prices are expected to show a small rise when compared with those of the current MGF, meaning entry-level cars will cost from £16,000, while flagship versions will sell for around £22,000.
Although it's similar to the MGF in terms of its mid-engined layout, the MG TF is radically different to its predecessor, featuring a new look, a fresh range of engines and revised chassis. MG Rover design chief, Peter Stevens, has also been hard at work on the car's details, and the newcomer boasts a sporty-looking nose with revised projector beam headlamps incorporating the indicators. The flanks have been reprofiled and the engine air intakes reshaped to give greater visual impact.
At the rear, a resculpted bumper houses larger exhaust pipes, while the bootlid now boasts an aerodynamic spoiler. To help buyers customise their vehicles, there is a wider choice of colours, including XPower Grey and Le Mans Green, as well as a range of new alloy wheels. Coloured hoods will also be available for the first time, with a choice of blue, grey and green.
Initially, four models will feature in the MG TF line-up, all powered by four-cylinder petrol engines. The entry-level machine is set to be the 115bhp 1.6-litre edition, the TF115. It will be joined by a 135bhp 1.8-litre version, called the TF135, together with a flagship 160bhp car known as the TF160. The fourth model is a 120bhp 1.8-litre CVT-equipped automatic, the TF120 Stepspeed. MG Rover promises that the entire range will be better than ever to drive, thanks to substantial changes to the suspension made by a team headed by the company's product development director, Rob Oldaker.
Whereas the old car was fitted with a linked Hydragas suspension system, the latest models feature conventional springs and dampers, as do its major rivals, the Mazda MX-5, the Lotus Elise and Vauxhall VX220. At the front, the MG's set-up of independent springs and dampers offers improved steering response and feel. At the rear, a multi-link axle promises greater stability.
In addition, Rover's engineers have increased the rigidity of the subframes on which the suspension is mounted, to improve driveability. There have also been several changes to the MG's interior, and these include revised instrumentation as well as new trim fabrics. However, the design of the seats and the cabin's ergonomics are expected to remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, MG insiders feel confident that the MG TF can maintain the MGF's impressive sales performance. Since its launch back in 1995, the two-seater has clocked up 77,000 sales, keeping it in number one spot on the sports car charts in the UK. Certainly, judging by this first picture, MG Rover looks to have a surefire winner on its hands once again.