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MGH aims to revive flagging MG brand

Out with the old: The MGF will make way for a facelifted and upgraded version in February, 2000.

The slow-selling MGF roadster will be replaced by a facelifted version in February, 2000, before making way for an all-new successor in about four years

22 Jun 1999

ROVER'S MGF roadster will make way for an all-new successor, known as the MGH, around 2003.

The newcomer will continue the theme established by the current roadster, deriving its motivation from a mid-mounted four-cylinder engine.

It will be a particularly crucial model for MG as it will reintroduce the marque to the lucrative US market after a lapse of over 20 years.

The MGH will be built in the US alongside the BMW Z3 and X5 at the German company's Spartanburg plant in South Carolina.

BMW has suffered heavy losses through its Rover subsidiary and plans to invest almost $4 billion in the British company in a bid to turn around its mainstream car business.

The MGH will play a key role in BMW's aspirations to restore Rover to profitability.

In the meantime, MG is preparing for the launch of an updated version of the MGF, due in Australia in February, 2000.

Externally, the newcomer will be distinguishable from the current model through its chrome mesh grille, larger 16-inch alloy wheels and wider tyres.

The revisions carry through to the interior with better materials used throughout the cabin to endow it with an ambience befitting the car's character.

An upgraded sound system, electrically-adjustable mirrors and BMW-sourced switchgear will be among the other improvements.

Pricing of the new models remains unclear but an increase of around $3000 is possible, raising the entry level cost to $48,000.

A six-speed semi-automatic transmission will be offered for the first time in the revised MGF.

The Steptronic transmission will be capable of functioning as an automatic around town but also allows the driver to shift manually by nudging the lever and effecting up and down changes via steering wheel-mounted buttons.

A potent supercharged version of the MGF, known as the Super Sports, will also make its debut next year but a Rover Australia spokesperson said this variant was not likely to be offered here.

The 150kW Super Sports is said to be capable of accelerating from standstill to 100km/h in around six seconds, on its way to a top speed of almost 230km/h.

MG sales have dwindled in recent times with just 107 MGFs sold until the end of May. This represents a sizeable drop on the 239 MGFs sold during the same period in 1998.

The Mazda MX5 (721 sales until the end of May) continues to be the biggest seller in the category by a huge margin.

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