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I am not a car geek so this review will be a layman's view of the car. I dont care about the horsepower stats or the size of the wheels. I can just tell you what it feels like to drive, how reliable it has been for me and how much fuel it guzzles.
Driving - In my opinion, the TF's biggest positive. It drives great. Hugs the road, cornering is superb and because you're low to the ground, gives the impression that you are zipping around (and most of the time, you are!). Driving with the roof down is great and for the price, I believe you wont find a better car to do it in.
The only blot on the copybook is handling in poor conditions. No rear-wheel drive car likes ice - but I have gone into a couple of ditches because of its inability to grip the road, even at slow speeds. Snow driving is also not fun.
Reliability - I've had the car 6 years and its had standard services every year (not at expensive MG dealerships) and I've not had many problems. Yes, the head gasket went and was very expensive. But to be honest, that was it. I've had a couple of blowouts and the foam spray they give you to put in the tyre is useless. And thats the sum total of my issues with the car in the 6 years. Lucky? Maybe. I can just tell you about my experiences.
Fuel consumption - A full tank currently costs around £55 to £60 (unleaded currently around £1.18) and the car generally does just over 400 miles on that tank.
Its not great, but its pretty good for a sports car.
Anything else - well, the boot is a good size. There are a few minor cosmetic complaints, the glove box doesnt click shut properly and because of the design, when it rains and you open the door, water drips from the roof inside the car. When its freezing, sometimes the inside windscreen freezes as well (but this might be true of all convertibles).
Overall, I love it - but it does have flaws and the parts (and labour) and quite expensive (some mechanics refuse to work on TFs).
The Mg Tf I own is a top of the range, leather seated model, with 160 bhp.
In terms of reliability I know MG's have a bad name, and that the K series in particular is renowned for head gasket problems, but in the 15 months I've owned this car I have only had to service the car as standards, plus maintenance- e.g the brakes.
So in terms of reliability, my car has yet to be faulted.
The car is great fun to drive and is quick, revving up to 7 and a half thousand RPM, braking and handling are both excellent and the car is very easy to control when you feel like kicking the back end out!
The car is very comfortable, with a good sound system, excellent vision, except the rear window, which without a glass screen upgrade, is slightly clouded.
The car is a bargain, with a lot of car for your money, my car is 2003 with 17,000 miles on the clock- or near enough- and only cost me £3k or so, with full SH.
The Mg TF 160 is one of the best cars in it's class, it has the biggest boot compared to other 2 seat convertibles, it is cheap and just as quick as other more expensive alternatives.
The build quality may be a bit better in a Mazda Mx5 or a Honda S2000 but this more than made up for in the price, which is two or three times less than these.
In terms of fuel consumption I get 30-32 MPG which is very good in a sub 7 second 0-60 car.
DO NOT BUY THIS CAR!This is the worse car I have ever owned. I read the reviews on the net, knew about head gaskets and leaks but I still went an bought one! All the problems I read about happened and it took 5 weeks to get it back after the head gasket failed after only 35000 miles. Even though I kept an eye on water levels and dint drive it hard from cold.Fed up with not only scraping the ice off the outside of the car in the winter you also have to scrape the inside, poor build quality lack of gadgets, a rear end shunt and head gasket failure I am going back to a pug!
The problem with British manufacturing is that we haven't got a clue how to manufacture quality products. No one it seems takes pride in their work anymore.
Our guys go to work in the morning and the impression given is that after about 5 tea breaks the average bloke will then start thinking about what to do. In that time a worker in Germany would probably have already done the equivalent of one hour of a British workman's day.
Four years ago I decided to get rid of my Renault Laguna and buy a new car. Up to that point it was probably one of the best cars I'd owned. Before that I'd had a Ford Granada, a Vauxhall Cavalier, a Renault Megane and a BMW 318. The BMW came a close second to the Laguna.
When I sold my Laguna, for some reason I became all patriotic. I went around all sorts of garages. I looked at Toyotas, Hondas, Fords You name it, I test drove it but in the end I decided to buy an MG TF after a 40 minute road test. This was going to be my first sports car and I wanted it to be British and I also decided to get one that was green - British Racing Green.
I bought it from a dealership called Quicks in Coventry and right from the negotiating stage I found I couldn't get what I wanted. They wouldn't increase the part exchange allowance. They wouldn't decrease the price of the car. They wouldn't upgrade the cassette player to a CD player without charging extra, they wouldn't even throw in a set of mats. I was actually rather impressed by this attitude; this 'we are above haggling' attitude. At the time I felt like I was buying a car from a prestige garage who only wanted to sell the car to the 'right person'. The right person being one with loads of cash, a little up market and wouldn't haggle.
We closed the deal eventually. Went 'halves' on the cost of the CD player and I drove my MG home £15k poorer but with the top down I felt special.
That day and in fact that week I felt extremely pleased with myself. I had a convertible. I had sunglasses. It was summer. I had the top down. I was systematically driving my car from one acquaintance to another basking in the literal and figurative sun that was shining on me.
And that was really it for me. That one, single week was probably the nicest week I had driving around in my new MGTF.
In the second week things started to go wrong and I've never looked forwards since.
The first thing was a noise in the car. Now any convertible is noisy. An MG convertible doubly so because the engine is located about 30 inches behind your head. But this noise was a weird rattle kind of noise. It seemed to come from different areas of the car depending on whether I was going over a bump or turning a corner or sitting idle at a set of traffic lights. I just could not figure it out. I took it back to Quicks who had a half hearted attempt to locate the source but they couldn't figure it out. Mind you the fact that they never took the car out for a spin and didn't take it over a bump or turn corners or sit at traffic lights probably didn't help. I took the car back home and lived with the noise. In fact I still have the noise after 4 years.
The next problem occurred about 8 weeks after I bought the car. A light came on in the dashboard and seemed to indicate that something was wrong with the engine. I took it back and a day later they fixed a loose connection to the light.
I also noticed that there was a gap in between the window and the rubber seal. This seemed to me to be producing excessive wind noise and so I took it back to Quicks to have the window adjusted. They fixed it within a few hours and I drove my car home feeling a bit better because the car was noticeably quieter.
About a month after this I found the light telling me that my hand break was on refused to go out. I took it back to Quicks and a day later they adjusted the hand break to resolve this. In subsequent services, the guys at Quicks had to adjust the hand break again and again to get the light to go out. In fact the light is still on right now again 4 years later. The guys as Nationwide Autocentre mentioned in the service report that the handbrake needed adjusting but failed to adjust it.
Anyway, another month later I returned the car again. This time it was because the carpet underneath my feet had worn away where my heals would go whilst accelerating or breaking or pressing the clutch.
This couldn't be replaced immediately but a month later they'd ordered a new carpet and fitted it into my car.
By this time we were in the middle of autumn. I bought my car in April and 6 months later in October I happened to take the car out in pouring rain.
Water leaked in through both windows and it felt like I was driving the car with my windows down. Back to the garage and again a day later I was given the car back with the windows 'fixed'. As I drove it home I found that the wind noise had returned so the next day I took it back and was told that I had a choice. I could either live with the wind noise OR accept that the windows would leak water!! I chose to live with the wind noise. Apparently Rover MG had not figured out how to design a convertible that could keep both wind and water out.
By November the leaves had started falling off the trees and I noticed an odd noise when I put the heating fan on. It sounded like something had come loose in the heater. Once again another trip back to Quicks and this time I was told that leaves had gotten sucked into the air vents from outside and that it was these that were making the noise. They removed the leaves and then TOLD ME OFF for parking my car under trees. Apparently you're not supposed to do that with an MG TF. Rover MG had not figured out how to design heating systems that only let in air and not leaves.
And that was the last problem I had in my first year of owning a British built MGTF.
All in all the car was taken back for various problems on average once or twice a month with some problems still not having been resolved even now 4 years later.
The second year saw me taking the car back because the head gasket had blown, that hand break light again (this happens twice a year), water leaking into my boot (never fixed), leaking door mirrors (never fixed), CD player skipping tracks (never fixed) and a few other items such as the MG Badge falling apart (never replaced).
There are also a number of silly design flaws in the car.
I've already mentioned the water leaking windows but theres also the windscreen wipers which work separately from the windscreen washer. i.e. you have to squirt the water onto the windscreen and then turn on the windscreen wipers. How much extra would it have cost Rover to connect the two functions together like they are done in EVERY OTHER CAR OUT THERE?
Because the engine is at the back theres no heat to defrost the water in the windscreen washer bottle which is located at the front of the car. Who's great idea was that ?
Theres also the chrome gear knob. Looks great but completely impractical in the winter when your hand literally sticks to your knob (ooo errr) because of the freezing cold.
The cigarette lighter is located near the gear knob. These days most people use that to charge their mobile phone but I can't because theres no place for me to attach the in-car kits that you can buy. My phone has to sit on the floor whilst its being charged.
Bonnet release cable is in the boot. So you have to open your boot in order to open your bonnet. Its so annoying. How hard would it have been to put the bonnet release in the same place it is in every other make of car ?
The heating system in the car seems to adjust the temperature depending on how fast you are driving. So you can set the temperature using the control but then find that the temperature drops whist you are on the motorway. You then adjust the temperature upwards and find its too hot when you come off the motorway. My long distance trips are spent constantly adjusting the heating.
The third year was spent with me trying to enjoy the car which worked when I ignored the problems I had with it and just concentrated on the driving experience. If you ignore the wind noise, and the hand brake light and the rattle and the fact that when you use the windscreen washer the wipers do not automatically come on. If you ignore those things the car is actually good fun to drive around in. Right from the moment you switch on the engine and hear the unique MG engine growl you know you're going to have fun. Going around corners on country roads the car handles exceptionally well. Braking in the wet is a little scary at times as the back of the car seems to want to go in a different direction to the front but if you anticipate the cars behaviour and adjust your driving appropriately you can have genuine fun in it. It's rather sensitive to the brand of tyre you put on it. It comes with Continentals but Kwik Fit once said it would be fine with a pair of Michelins at the back. This is completely the wrong advice because the car slides about all over the place for the first few thousand miles. Driving it around with the top down is very windy but installing a wind break just behind the seats resolves that problem and in the summer its fantastic driving around at speed up to about 60-70 mph. Above that and the noise gets too loud for my liking. Fuel economy is very good too. I get about 30 mpg (about 420 miles on a full tank) but this drops dramatically with the top down.
All in all the driving experience is great but at the back of your mind you can't help thinking that all things being equal, a foreign convertible would be that much better purely from a build quality point of view.
Its pointless talking about the service in Quicks. They have gone bust now so it's not as if anyone will visit them now but for the record up to the point where you left your car with them, the service was exceptional. The quality of service however fell dramatically when they took the car to the back of the garage to 'work on it' because the problems that I reported simply would not be fixed properly or indeed fixed at all.
During my fourth year of owning the car I decided to sell it. I was in a Toyota garage about to buy a Celica and decided to leave it for just one more month. In hindsight it was the worst decision I made with regards to my MG. It happened that it was in that month (literally a week after) that MG went bust. The price offered to me by the sales chap in the Toyota dealership went down from 10k to 7k and so now I'm stuck with the car, unable to afford to sell it.
Why did MG Rover go bust? There are loads of rumours about the directors siphoning off all the cash etc but fundamentally in my opinion it's because people weren't buying their cars. They weren't buying them because we haven't got a clue how to manufacture quality goods. A friend of mine used to work for them and she told me that the worst thing you could do was to buy a Rover or MG Rover that had been built over the Christmas period. Why? I asked. Because the workers are all p?ssed over Christmas and quality control is too relaxed to pick up the problems. I went back to see when my car had been built. I bought it in April; it was registered in February and built in December....
Buy British? Never again. No way.