1 Aug 2002
In early 2000 a bewildered BMW, having owned the once all-powerful but now desperately unprofitable Rover Group since 1994, broke the company up and sold the “English Patient” (Rover and MG) to a private consortium for ten pounds.
And in only two years the newly formed MG Rover managed to cobble up the MG TF on the leanest of shoestring budgets, with a host of changes outside and underneath.
MG Rover ditched the previous inter-connected Hydragas suspension system for a more conventional, coil-spring arrangement, involving a new multi-link rear-end as well as a revised front-end.
This helped boost body strength by up to 20 per cent.
Revised 1.8-litre twin-cam 16-valve K-series powerplants saw new model names that referred to their respective imperial brake-horsepower outputs: TF 120 (88kW/165Nm with CVT automatic) TF 135 (100kW/165Nm) and TF 160 (118kW/174Nm). The latter two utilised a five-speed manual gearbox.
Visually MG Rover got rid of the old front bumper/spoiler moulding and replacing it with a slicker design featuring polycarbonate headlight lenses and a shape that helps improve aerodynamics by five per cent, while a redesigned back-end with a reshaped boot-lid helped reduce aerodynamic lift by 28 per cent.
Inside the TF is treated to a new range of fabrics and a generally brighter presentation, but still suffered the familiar ergonomic shortcomings.
Two limited edition models were introduced- the 80th Anniversary in from February ’04, the LE from June ’04 and early ’05’s Spark.
In April ’05 MG Rover collapsed, but the TF may yet be resurrected, along with its MG ZR, ZS and ZT passenger car siblings, if the two Chinese consortiums that purchased the company’s remains succeed in restarting production in either England and/or China.
MG has come back from the dead more than once in its 80-plus year history.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
When it was new