The first new MG since the MGB in 1962 arrived in 1995 as something altogether different — a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive roadster that was launched by the Rover Group following BMW’s takeover. There were two variations of the Mk I, each with a 16-valve 1.8 litre K-series engine.
The base version put out 118 bhp whilst the more powerful VVC (Variable Valve Control) option delivered 145 bhp. One unique feature was Hydragas suspension, which provided excellent ride quality and precise handling characteristics.
Despite the fact that this was clearly not a traditional design, MG enthusiasts old and new loved the newcomer and it shot straight to the top of the affordable UK sports-car chart. But after four years of brisk sales the MGF Mk II was introduced. This involved a face-lifted interior, minor styling changes and new alloy wheels.
A new base model with a 1.6 litre engine also appeared in 1999, as did a high performance version bulged as the Trophy 160 which had a tuned engine producing — surprise — 160 bhp that could deliver a superior 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.9 secs. However, relatively few examples of the Trophy 160 were built. The Mk II range also featured an automatic model with continuous-variable Steptronic transmission.
Once more, sales of the Mk II were brisk despite BMW’s disposal of the Rover and MG marques to the Phoenix Consortium for £10 in 2000. The new company rebadged the car as the MG TF in 2002, reverting to a name from MG’s illustrious past.
This was actually an MGF Mk III by another name, though it had new coil-spring suspension, a tweaked engine and stiffened body shell. There were also various cosmetic style changes. The TF sold brilliantly too, but in 2005 MG Rover collapsed and production ceased.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1995 (until 2002)
1,598 cc or 1,796 cc Straight Four
With 1.8 l VVC – top speed of 123 mph (198 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
China’s state-owned Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the goodwill and plant of the collapsed MG Rover company and immediately set about building a production line in the eastern city of Nanjing, using machinery from Longbridge – and the first Chinese-built MG TF rolled off the line in 2007.