'MG' is more than just a name; it's a legend. Once upon a time, these two letters were simply another way of describing the British sports car. Today, they do so again.
The MGF has returned the marque to prominence in a remarkably short period. Order books are bulging as Rover builds as many of the cars as it can manage, most being the standard 1.8i version.
Second-hand examples are still none too plentiful - though they can be found, with the best ones usually at the select group of Rover dealers who hold the MG franchise. Don't expect too much of a bargain, however. This is one British sports car that deserves to hold its value.
Few could have anticipated that Rover's return to the sports car arena would be so successful. The first genuine all-new MG since 1980, christened the MGF, was launched to an excited audience at the Spring 1995 Geneva Motor Show prior to its UK debut the following autumn.
Early cars were all 1.8-litre models; it wasn't until the following Spring that production of the faster 1.8 VVC version really got under way. Unlike the old MGB, the F wasn't pulled together from the corporate parts bin. On the contrary, the design team was allowed to start from a completely clean sheet of paper. Despite the project's tight budget, the results speak for themselves.
The range was revised in August 1999, with a new, more aggressive look and the option of clever fingertip-gear change controls for a new Steptronic version of the entry-level 1.8i.
Inside, the driving position had been sorted out, with lower-mounted sports seats and (at last), a rake-adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel. The required sharpening of image came courtesy of a range of subtle changes that collectively gave the car a much more dynamic feel. These included a body-coloured windscreen surround, smoked indicator lenses at the front and side, new designs for the standard alloy wheels and a silver background for the instrumentation.
Other changes included a revised electronic power steering set-up for more road feel and the no-cost option of a lighter interior for those who didn't like the standard dark 'Ash' affair. Aluminium trim on the doors gave the cockpit a sportier feel and there was an upgraded stereo system (with a single CD player on the VVC) that was easier to hear with the roof down. Finally, and most importantly, a three-year/60,000-mile warranty was finally included as standard, speaking volumes for the extra confidence Rover now had in the product.
In March 2001, the range was expanded to five models, with the addition of a 112PS 1.6-litre entry-level variant and a 160PS Trophy 160 SE flagship. The range was replaced by the MGTF in early 2002.