UK Car Road Test

MG F 2001

 Movie Clips of this Car

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There are at minimum two kinds of MG's  Sports cars deserving of the famous octagon  and re-badged saloons which are undeserving of the famous red Octagon.

MG enthusiasts thought they had seen the last of real MG sports cars when the factory was axed by the failing Leyland-Austin-Morris-Rover conglomerate nightmare.  And yet in the mid nineties out popped and MG to get excited about.

Nearly 10 years later its still here with us, fresh faced as ever and soldiering along gamely.   

 

Pretty little car, though front end could be a touch sharper

What really strikes you about an MGF is not just the looks as such but how feminine the car is. No not feline like a E-type feminine. Its not butch looking and aggressive despite its sporting pretensions. Its more sort of cuddly and cute. Perhaps its the sensible ground clearance, or lack of aerodynamic implements, or lack of  bulging wheel arches and massive wheels. or a combination of many factors. But it lacks the macho appeal of the ubiquitous  MGB. Though if we look further back at the MGA perhaps its not quite so removed from MG legend as we may think.

 This is not to say its not a good looking car. IT IS , and it gets better looking the closer you get to its tiny form. Its just that its appeal is definitely more towards the hairdressing market. ( at first sight any ways).

From a distance it looks almost a little chubby and bulbous and front engined, its only as you get close up and realise how  tiny it really is and how short that bonnet is in reality.

Inside and out it makes lies of any suggestions that  the Rover group could not build or design decent cars. It is an inspired little motor coming from a company that was in dire difficulties and close to death.

The Interior styling is spot on, compact yet practical, stylish with a hint of understatement and garish overkill and tack noticeable by its absence  

The all black leather look suits me down to the ground, its a timeless and classic treatment. The alloy highlights are closing on too much but look fine too the point they are at.

The white clocks are clear in extremis and perhaps about as simple as you could possibly make them, though they do appear a little like sticker covers from a Max Power mag. It would have been really nice to have seen the ivory ones from a Rover 75 finding their way in here. Though I would have settled for some chrome ringed black ones.

Only the stalks are obvious parts pin finds. There are probably a raft more but they are well disguised.

 

Ignoring the dinosaur   RV8  it would be hard to think of a better equipped MG sporter ever.  Sure things have moved on in the car world since the last "B" and "Midget" rolled out of Abingdon. But even in their heyday MG's were Basic if not Spartan at best. The F has moved on and is nicely if not overly equipped. 

That old feeling you used to have of driving a rebodied Morris Mariana is nowhere to be found. Considering the equivalent Saloons from Rover when the MGF was born were motors like the 600 and 800, the MGF feels inspired.

Authentic ?  well almost !

Dials a bit on the tacky side

Drop down arm rest simple and neat 

Flip out shade 
helps block out the large expanse of screen

Comfort Features
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Front
Cup holders
Cup holders
Front Head Rest
Front Head Rest
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Adjustable Mirrors
Adjustable Mirrors
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Windows front
Electric Windows front
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

 

 

Performance is not raucous but it is certainly lively. 145bhp combined with a small 1000kg car makes for spirited driving.

Power is provided by Rovers now slightly ageing but still competent   1.8 vvc unit 

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
12000 14 Not Available N/A
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC 145 1796 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 None
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
127mph 7.6seconds 136
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
25.2mpg 48.8mpg 36.3mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1080kg 0kg 391cm 178cm 50cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
209 Litres 0 Litres 2

 Can there be many cars (petrol) that can hit 127mph and 60mph in 7.6 seconds and yet return the best part of 50mpg.

About as much as we could see with the camera

More space than you might imagine
(but not much)

Shiney Magpie attractor

The engine is well buried amidships with subtle vents on the boot and rear wheel arches. They hardly seem enough to generate air flow, so I guess the front grill helps out too, and the fan probably works overtime. There was never any hint of heating problems though, even on a balmy late summer day. 

With a low kerb weight to drag along the 1.8 performs excellently, whether buzzing the red line or lazing through the mid range. The unit only gives its age away with a little roughness in the upper rev ranges , but all in all is an excellent all round power plant.

The MGF is truly Mid engined with the block in front of the rear wheels and close to the drivers back. The gear stick obviously is slightly more remote from the actual gearbox than in more conventional set ups, though the change does not give any indication of this fact. The change is sharp and solid with no hint of ghosting or sloppiness thru the linkage, (often the Achilles heel of remote gearboxes). The box ratios themselves are well chosen and matched to the VVC power delivery.

The clutch was a little on the heavy, sticky and abrupt side, though only a little and probably easily solved though perhaps a little to do with the very straight legged driving position. 

 

Wheels are just sooooooo lovely

Twin Chrome pipes look the part

Those lovely alloys and fat low profile tyres present good grip at the sharp end. Though under the skin the suspension and layout is advanced in a way that is almost Anti-MG. Mid engined is none traditional, cum radical in MG terms. But at least keeps the MG tradition of rear wheel drive. But the all independent suspension is probably an MG sporter first, and this version is held up by hydragas units.  This sounds advanced and probably still is. But it is a throw back to the BL days of the sixties and seventies and links the MG to MK2 Minis Austin 1100s  Land crabs and Allegros.

Thankfully it actually worked well in those cars and has been firmed and advanced for the MGF. The end result is a ride of surprising pliancy.  Compare it too the new MR2 and see where its coming from. The MG rides really well for such a diminutive sports car.  

Handling is none to shabby either. Mid engines can provide both ultimate balance and unpredictable lightning responses with both  under steer and rapid over steer. MG have tamed the chassis into an amicable sweet road riding unit. There is no hint of any untoward behavior, the rear end gripped remorselessly  and I was only able to provoke mild under steer.

The steering was just spot on. power assistance seems to be going a bit far considering the lack of front end weight. But to be fair I never noticed the assistance. Steering is very light and easy when gliding around town or car parks, But firms up nicely to give good weighty response as speeds increase. despite any lack of weight over the front  the front end never felt anything less than planted and tenacious.

All in all the chassis cope perfectly well with the power of the VVC and feels like it could handle somewhat more. 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter

 

Its a soft top so there is little you can really do to keep a determined knife wielder out, though there is little you can do to keep a determined brick wielder out of a hard top either. Immobilser and Alarm help let you sleep at night, but a fortified garage is perhaps the best bet. Conspicuous parking will help too, a little thought goes a long way. 

Fat small and grippy 
Air bag kills style as usual

 Clear concise dash 
though a little uninspired

 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Drivers Airbag
Drivers Airbag
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection

 

Driving the MG was a very pleasant experience. Getting in and out is remarkably easy ( its not always in small sports cars ) Your legs disappear off down the long tunnel. And you sit looking out of the seemingly huge windscreen. The wind screen itself is rakishly angled and deflects much wind blast well away. (The rear mesh takes care off the rest) But does not cause to many optical oddities.

The seats are tight but comfortable. They are not as heavily bolstered as you might expect, but the transmission tunnel and door wedge you in anyways.  

Unlike the MGB there is absolutely no chance of anything or anybody no matter how small wedging themselves behind.

The roof works quickly and reliably and creates a quick snug weather proof fit that would make old MG buffs cry in their real ale.

Badge worth ohhhhhh sooooo much!
(when applied to a two seater!)

The F is often lambasted for being too soft. That's a bit unfair me thinks. Compared to the equally diminutive MR2 it presents a much more practical less manic motor. Where living with the MR2 would be a nightmare, people get by perfectly fine with a MGF, so its horses for courses. 

If you just want a purely weekend sportster then the MR2 may be better, for track days only an Elise would be perfect, but to commute through the grime and enjoy a week end blast top down in the sunshine the MGF is just about perfect. Even its insurance rating at group 14 looks practical compared to what little opposition it has.

Well Mid engined opposition at least. Whether it can compete against the Mazda MX5 I don't really know, but guessing by the rafts of MX5s running around I suspect not quite.

Still the MX5 and the MR2 will never have a badge which evokes such passion.

 

Front boot is well full and not really useable.

Note Anti Bobby Charton hairdo screen 
behind seats

Race style filler nice touch!

 In many ways the MGF is not the archetypal MG sports cars most of us love and hate.

Its not a crate full of cast off  Rover  bits,  

Its not got ancient crude suspension, brakes and engine

Its not got laughable performance.

Its not got below par handling

Its not got a bone shaking ride 

It does not rot like a FIAT

but 

Its also not cheap, not very masculine, and not very DIY friendly

But all in all it British, its not outclassed and its affordable, I think its worth a risk.


 

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UK Car Road Test MG F 2001

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