Review: MG TF (2008 – 2011)

Rating:

Fun, stylish and mid-engined. Handling and ride improved over the 2002-2005 car.

Reported issues with build quality, corrosion and patchy dealer/factory support. Buy cheaply and wisely.

Recently Added To This Review

20 August 2012

Reader suffered sever problems gertting a TF LE500 fixed by the factory. They took car back to the factory and after 2 months delivered car with only 1 of the 3 items sorted. Many promises made, none... Read more

17 April 2011

SAIC officially handed in a recall order tothe General Administration of Quality Supervision for its MG branded TFRoadster, Xinhua reported today. The recall will begin immediately with 181 vehicles... Read more

27 September 2010

Sussex MG dealer Sterling MG launches MGTF Sterling. The LE500, the TF135 and the TF 85 th Anniversary Special Edition have now reached the end of production at Longbridge. Sterling MG launced a... Read more

MG TF (2008 – 2011): At A Glance

What does a MG TF (2008 – 2011) cost?

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MG TF (2008 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 3940 mm
Width 1630 mm
Height 1260 mm
Wheelbase 2380 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the trim has a higher quality feel than its older cousin even though very little has changed visually. Piano black surrounds look and feel good, while the leather upholstery felt acceptable to us, looking reasonably hard-wearing too. A close examination reveals that the vents and switches in the centre console look like recreations – they’re minutely different, while the main change is limited to the instrument pack. That part of the update, it has to be said, hasn’t exactly been successful – the warning lights are small and poorly lit, while the dials themselves are gaudy and look like they’ve been sitting in Proton’s store cupboard for the past 20 years (despite being designed by MG Rover).

We did find that the TF LE500 had a gear change upshift light… but, at first, we thought that a warning light was trying to tell us about some impending calamity.

Under the skin, it’s also a very familiar story – the N-Series engine sounds and smells roughly like the original and the chassis settings are an evolution of the softened 2005 set-up that finally earned the TF serious praise. You’re going to be disappointed if you are looking for something new but, if you’re after the reassurance of familiarity, then the TF is right down your street.

Child seats that fit a MG TF (2008 – 2011)

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What's the MG TF (2008 – 2011) like to drive?

With 135bhp on tap, the TF’s never going to be considered a road burner. The vital statistics paint an accurate picture though – 0-60mph in 8.5secs and a top speed of 125mph mean that it’s brisk enough but, for your £16,399, there are plenty of ways to spend your money and go faster. However, that’s not what the TF is about really – it was always a tactile and pointy car and one that’s best enjoyed on a B-road, alone, with the roof down. Taken in that context, it’s absolutely fine.

Fire it up and there’s the reassuringly familiar K-Series bark, but slightly watered down. It’s difficult to put one’s finger on it exactly but, in N-Series trim, you’re treated to a slightly different soundtrack; it’s rather like they took the original and washed it through a noise filter. The sound is still there but, somehow, the emotions it evokes are different.

In more objective terms, considering the damp-liner K-Series has been around for so long and it’s only been treated to the mildest of makeovers by NAC MG, it’s still an effective engine. In third gear, from little more than a trickle, it pulls cleanly, but becomes more purposeful as the revs pass 4K – and because the ratios in that fine-shifting ‘box are quite long, third makes for a very effective B-road gear. The induction noise is appealing too, as it adds an extra dimension to the hard-edged note of the N-Series, when floored from low revs.

The brakes have excellent feel and progression. Here, at least, it seems that great progress has been made. The official line on fuel consumption is 35.8mpg on the combined cycle, although you’re looking at a real world 30mpg-plus if you drive carefully and just below that once you start hooning it – or decide to make heavy use of the air conditioning system.

Here’s where you’d expect the TF to score well and you’re not going to be disappointed. We’ve already mentioned that the LE500 rides on 16-inch alloys and has adopted the softer chassis settings of the final 2005 cars – and, even armed with that knowledge, the TF’s ride still impresses on your typical British roads. It’s no Citroen, but attack a pock-marked secondary at any kind of speed, and the TF shrugs it off effectively. There are also far fewer rattles and squeaks to listen to now. That could be down to the quality of the dashboard, which comes as a welcome surprise.

The TF still scores well for steering – the gearing is quick (but the turning circle is poor) and being in touch with the road encourages you to press on. For those looking for a go-kart, though, it might be best to shop elsewhere. The TF remains as friendly now as it ever was at sensible speeds.

Head for the corners and the TF feels nicely planted. The supple suspension means that you’re not constantly trying to dodge potholes and mid-corner lumps won’t necessarily through throw you off the road, as they might once have done. Body roll is reasonably well contained, although it’s not eliminated. In short, it’s a good B-road companion which handles in a novice-friendly manner but can also cover ground incredibly effectively if you want it to.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
135 36 mpg 8.4 s 185 g/km
LE 500 36 mpg 8.4 s 185 g/km

Real MPG average for a MG TF (2008 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

113%

Real MPG

32–44 mpg

MPGs submitted

13

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the MG TF (2008 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Should I buy a Daihatsu Copen or will it be problematic to source spares?

I wish to buy an inexpensive convertible and have been seduced by the cute looks of the Daihatsu Copen. However I understand that Daihatsu no longer markets cars in the UK. Will this mean servicing and spares availability become difficult? If so, what would you recommend?
The original Copen had a 660cc Suzuki turbo engine, but this was later replaced by the 1.3-litre four cylinder engine from the Toyota Yaris. Yes, if you have a problem you will have to wait for parts. If you have a crash you may have a very long wait indeed. Sensibly, nothing beats a Mazda MX-5, a 1.8 if you don't need the performance of a 2.0-litre. But the bargain sportscar is an MGTF 1.6 or 1.8. Caterham has just launched a Seven with Suzuki’s 660cc turbo engine so that should improve UK parts availability.
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