What is the MGF?
Engine and Gearbox
Chassis and Suspension
Equipment and Security
MGF One Make Race Series?
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The MGF is due to be unveiled at this month's Geneva Motor Show, and is the first all-new MG since the MGB way back in 1962. Unlike the recent MG RV8, which was little more than a facelifted MGB, the MGF is a thoroughly modern sportster bristling with the latest in auto technology.
The MGF is a small two-seater sports car which has a mid-engined rear-drive
layout. The MGF is a 100% British design, and had nothing to do with Honda
as it was styled by Rover's in-house design team.
The MGF is similar in size to what will be it's main rival, the Mazda MX-5, and it has a very appealing and attractive shape. Rover have described it as a "candid camera car - nobody is sure where the engine is", this is because the bonnet appears long and high compared to other mid-engined cars, yet remains too short for a front-engined car.
The mid-engined layout is a first for Rover, and the unique VVC (Variable Valve Control) engine is a first for anyone. It also has the now finely honed Hydragas suspension and new speed-sensitive electric power steering.
Not surprisingly seeing that the last "real" MG was 30 years ago, the MGF
has very few styling links with its predecessors beyond the octagon-badged
grille, which is very reminiscent of the MGB.
The MGF looks fairly high-waisted, and though the front arches cut well into the body at the front, they do little to avoid the MGF looking slightly flat-sided, which isn't helped by the acute angle of the windscreen and the relatively small side windows.
The MGF looks very pretty with the roof down, and equally so when the neatly fitting hood is up. Soon after the cars launch, there will be a hard top available for around an extra thousand pounds.
For such a small car the interior space is very generous, there is a large
amount of leg room and plenty of headroom even when the roof is up. It's
moulded dashboard looks very smooth and incorporates an MG logo embossed
into the top of it.
The steering wheel has a rubber centre, and the switch gear is the standard Rover part, which generally fit in well with the look of the interior. Visibilty is not brilliant, as the bonnet disappears beyond the high dash and the rear tail is kicked up high behind the protruding hood.
Rover has done well to cram so much equipment into a car so small. And it is claimed that the boot is big enough to take two sets of golf clubs in relative comfort (7.4cu ft). Although there is space under the bonnet, it is taken up by the radiator, battery, ABS unit, and space-saver spare wheel.
Hidden somewhere in the middle of the MGF is an engine. It is brand new,
totally British, and promises to be very good too since it is based on the
very successful K-series engine.
For the MGF, the K-series engine has been bored and stroked out to 1,796cc. This required Rover to come up with the "damp" liner, ultra-lightweight pistons, and a plastic inlet manifold. All this results in 118bhp at 5,500rpm and 121 lb/ft at 3,000rpm. Rover claim that this results in a top speed of 120mph, and a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds.
By the end of the year, there will be a more powerful version with VVC - Variable Valve Control. Unlike Honda's V-TEC engine, VVC offers an infinitely variable cam period between two limits, though the amount of lift remains constant. The VVC equipped K-series has 25% more power (143bhp @ 7,000rpm) and 5% more torque (128lb/ft @ 4,500rpm). Fuel consumption should remain the same, but the VVC is 10mph faster with a max of 130mph and should reach 60 in seven seconds.
By putting the engine in the middle, Rover have been able to use its tried and tested transverse engine layout, whilst retaining the ability to use rear wheel drive. This also means they are able to use an equally tried and tested gearbox (by Honda), which is the same as is fitted to the Rover 600 so should offer a good change.
Like a true sportscar the MGF gets off to a good start with all independent
suspension by double wishbones front and rear. This is damped by the now
well tuned Hydragas suspension system (first seen on the Allegro!) instead
of conventional springs and dampers. The MGF also sports anti-roll
bars both front and rear.
The steering on the base car is rack and pinion, but get the VVC model (or pay for the option) and you'll get a speed-sensitive electric power steering system which works in a similar manner to that of the Honda NSX. Brakes are servoed discs all round with the ABS optional on the 1.8i and standard on the VVC.
There aren't too many toys in the MGF, but you do get electric windows and
central locking as standard, together with a decent Philips stereo. On the
options list is a six-CD autochanger and air conditioning. Also available
later will be a luggage rack for the boot, ski & bike carriers, and of course
MG have always claimed "Safety Fast", and this is very applicable to the MGF. Having the engine at "mid-ships" leaves a large crumple zone at the front end. There are also door beams and waistline rails for side-impact protection. The windscreen includes a high-tensile steel roll bar, there are seatbelt pre-tensioners and airbags.
The MGF has remote-control "superlocking" (deadlocking) and an engine immobiliser. The alarm protects the car even while the hood is down, and the stereo has a removable front panel. The boot can only be opened by the key, and the bonnet can only be opened form inside the boot, so don't lose your key!
It was reported in Autosport magazine not long after the release of the
MGF that Rover are planning an MGF One Make Race Series for the car. It was
suggested that Rover would be backing a full season of racing for the car, which
would be the almost standard MGF VVC model. This has the advantage that with
only the simple addition of an FIA roll bar then MGF owners could effectively
turn up and race in the series.
Before you all go off to your local Rover dealer and place an order, I must point out that this series would only be happening in Japan or New Zealand, where Rover believe there is a very large potential market for the car. It is unclear as to why Rover have made the decision not to race in the UK, but it is suspected that this is mainly due to the large number of other motor sport commitments which Rover have in the UK.
And that's the story so far -except for the most important bit. The MGF goes
on sale in the UK this summer, costs approx 16,000 UK pounds for the 1.8i and around
18,500 UK pounds for the VVC model.
Lets just hope it performs as well as it looks, and as well as the specification!