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In-depth reviews

MG TF cabriolet (2002-2005)

"The MG TF is easily outclassed by newer rivals"

Carbuyer Rating

1.8 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.6 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Sporty handling
  • Cheap to buy
  • Good size boot

Cons

  • Outdated cabin
  • Poor ride quality
  • Noisy at motorway speeds

Chinese owned MG Motor UK has been producing the revised TF since 2008. It offers sporty handling and open top motoring for a low price, but is easily outclassed by more up-to-date models such the Mazda MX-5. It's powered by a 135bhp 1.8-litre 16v petrol engine and can cover the 0-60mph sprint in approximately nine seconds. The manual folding canvas roof is simple to use, and the TF offers good value for money, but it has many shortcomings. The interior design is very dated, and on rough roads passengers will feel tired and uncomfortable. The lack of steering wheel adjustment also results in an awkward driving position.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Old engine hurts economy and emissions

The TF isn't particularly fuel efficient compared to more modern rivals, returning of 36mpg. Producing CO2 emissions of 185g/km TF owners will pay more for road tax than Mazda MX-5 drivers. MG offers a three-year/60,000 mile warranty that includes unlimited mileage cover in the first year.

Engines, drive & performance

Probably it's best feature

The small body dimensions, lack of weight and independent suspension mean that on twisty roads driving the TF is good fun. The gearlever is quite stiff however and the ride suffers badly on bumpy roads. At motorway speeds there is a lot of engine noise and the steering becomes quite unpredictable. The MG TF is also not fitted with electronic stability control.

Interior & comfort

Acceptable for short journeys

The interior of the TF is definitely showing its age, as it uses scratchy plastics and flimsy heater vents. The seats are supportive, but the dashboard layout is very basic. With the roof in place, headroom is limited for taller passengers.

Practicality & boot space

210-litre boot is positioned at the back, behind the engine

With a generous 210-litre boot the two-seater TF isn't as hard to live with as you might suspect. The cabin is relatively spacious and comfortable, but lacking in useful storage areas. The driving position is strange, though - you sit too low down, and there's no reach adjustment on the steering wheel. The heated rear glass screen provides a clear view out of the back window and the manual folding roof mechanism is well made.

Reliability & safety

The MG TF was crash tested way back in 2003

During crash testing in 2003 the MG TF scored a respectable four stars. However, crash testing has moved on greatly since then, but the TF hasn't kept pace. Despite the good level of crash protection on offer the interior build quality is average and some of the controls feel very cheap. Driver and passenger airbags are fitted as standard.

Price, value for money & options

The 'Style pack' includes leather seats

Priced below the entry-level Mazda MX-5 the MG TF is relatively cheap to buy - but only one model is offered. Standard equipment is limited, but includes front foglights, a CD player, alloy wheels and heated door mirrors. The optional Style Pack adds leather interior, silver interior trim and 'Twisted pepper' alloy wheels.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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