loading Loading please wait....

MG TF: Buying guide and review (2002-2005)

MG TF: Buying guide and review (2002-2005) Classic and Performance Car
MG TF MG TF MG TF MG TF
MG was known for its sporty two seaters back in the ‘50s, and its return to the category in the 1990s after a period of re-badged saloon and hatchback Austin-Rover models in the 1980s was well received. 
 
The MG TF may be an increasingly rare sight nowadays, but it was massively popular back in the early 2000s, with it good looks and competitive pricing it was the UK’s best-selling two-seater sports car for a number of years. So what made the TF such a desirable machine? At the turn of the century, MG wasn’t particularly flush with development funds so while rivals were releasing new models, the MGF received a huge number of upgrades and clever development, turning it into something that looked a bit sharper, and drove a lot better.
 
Making do with minor exterior cosmetic changes, the bulk of the changes were done under the skin. The suspension received a thorough overhaul, ditching the hydragas units of the F in favour of some conventional springs and dampers – improving handling greatly. 
 
Despite a few reliability issues, these little cars have developed quite a following. Turbulent times for the MG brand in the early 2000s meant that the TF was discontinued, along with all other MG Rover vehicles in 2005, however it was re-introduced in limited numbers by the new Chinese owners in 2007. Our focus will be on the cars built up to the end of MG/Rover ownership.
 
Which one to buy?
 
Modern convertibles tend to insulate their occupants from the driving experience a bit better than their older counterparts. This can be a boon on longer trips but shorter blasts down winding roads tend to be a bit less engaging. The TF definitely does not isolate you from the driving experience! The ride is firm, the canvas roof is pretty basic and road noise is ever present. 
 
Not ideal as a daily driver or motorway mile-muncher, but it’s just the thing to blow out the cobwebs on a Sunday afternoon. Practicality is a bit better than front engined rivals due to the extra storage space where the engine would go, with just about enough space to fit a weekend’s worth of luggage for two.
 
There are four different versions of the four-cylinder Rover K series engine available in the TF. First off was the entry-level 114bhp 1.6-litre, which was only available with a manual gearbox. A 1.8-litre version produced 120bhp in automatic form or 134bhp when paired with a manual gearbox. The top option was a VVC equipped 1.8 which produced 157bhp and could sprint to 60mph in under 7.0 seconds. The light weight of the TF means that even the 1.6 is an enjoyable drive, although many say that the best all-rounder is the manual 134bhp 1.8.
 
A number of special edition models were released such as the Sprint SE, Cool Blue SE and Sun Storm LE. Most changes were limited to unique paint and trim options, however the SE models generally came with the desirable wheels and uprated brakes from the TF 160. 
 
Three Sports Pack options were also available, offering lowered suspension on the SP1 and adding 16-inch alloys and ABS on the SP2 and SP3. 2005 model year cars had a hugely desirable glass rear window, which was a great improvement over the plastic items in earlier cars however as production ended in early April it may be easier to find an earlier car and retrofitting this item.
 
Due to their relatively low value servicing may have been skimped on so ensure that there is a comprehensive service history as neglected cars will cost more in the long run. 
 
Performance and specs
 
MG TF 135
Engine 1795cc 16 valve DOHC inline four
Power 134bhp @ 6750rpm
Torque 122lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 127mph
0-60mph 8.2 seconds
Fuel consumption 36.7mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight 
 
Wheelbase 2375mm
Length 3943mm
Width 1628mm
Height 1261mm
Curb weight 1105kg
 
Common problems
 
· Parts are in good supply, reasonably priced and available from a number of sources, the TF was built in relatively large numbers so there should not be any issues in keeping your MG running well.
 
· Head gasket issues due to overheating are a common TF issue. It is a regular problem with the Rover K series engines, and many running changes were carried out in an attempt to alleviate the problem. Keeping the cooling system in top condition is key as well as ensuring that servicing is carried out regularly.
 
· Rust can affect the car in a number of places, especially around the air intakes, sills, indicators and front wings. If the sub-frames show signs of rust then walk away.
 
· Water leaks can aggravate the rust issue so check for wet interior trim in the footwells and boot. Replacement rubber seals are a good investment.
 
· Badly aligned wheels often show up in heavy wear on the inside edge of the front tyres, easy to rectify but worth checking before you buy.
 
· The MG TF dropped the MG F’s Hydragas suspension system so there are no hydraulic leaks to worry about however old dampers can leak and brittle rubber mountings can make the ride very hard.
 
Model history
 
2002: MG TF goes on sale. Major suspension redesign, uprated engines and updated bodywork differentiate it from MG F. Sprint SE special edition released in July, 600 units built. Available on TF135 and TF 160 variants. TF 135 models received uprated brakes and ABS.
 
2003: Cool Blue SE special edition released in March, offering bespoke trim and three unique colour options. Available on TF 115 and TF 135. Sun Storm LE special edition released in October, included standard hard top, and was available on all engine options. 500 units produced.
 
2004: 80th Anniversary LE special edition released in January. Three unique colour options, 16” mag wheels and Anniversary logos distinguish these models from others in the range.
Spark SE special edition launched in July, offering usual SE trim on all engine sizes and some new paint options.
 
2005: Glass rear window introduced on all models Suspension changes carried out including thicker anti-roll bars and re-rated dampers to soften ride. Production ends in April as the Mg/Rover Group collapses. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.mgownersclub.co.uk - Owners club
• www.xpartautoservicecentre.com – Parts and servicing for MG’s
• www.mgf.ultimatemg.com – Excellent source for detailed info on MG TF ownership
•www.xpowerforums.com – MG TF information portal
 
Summary and prices
 
If you are looking for a bargain convertible then there are few better options out there than an MG TF, prices start at under £1000 for a tired high-miler while top spec cared for models are generally not much more than £2500. At these prices restoring or overhauling a banger will almost always cost more than getting a good one in the first place and as there are a lot to choose from you can afford to be picky. Arguably, the sweet spot in the range is the TF 135 which provides as much performance as you would need and is less likely to have been abused than the top models. Find a low mileage special edition car and who knows, it may even appreciate in value in the years to come. 
 
Words: John Tallodi
MG TF MG TF MG TF MG TF
Last updated: 14th Jul 2016
collapse this

search results

22 Results

search results

MG TF
995 33800 GBP
  • Mg Tf 2004 Automatic

    £1,150 £1,150

    1 year Mot, 76200 miles with full service history, metallic black with cream leather seats. New head gasket, cambelt and water pump September 2017. New rear screen and new battery June 2018. Alloy wheels, cd player, central locking, electric windows and mirrors, power steering, stainless exhaust, 2 key. Bodywork solid apart from some car park marks, and a bit of bubbly paint but pretty good condition for a 14 years old car. 07961236395

    • Mileage: 76200 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
    £1,150 £1,150
    FridayAd
  • MG TF 135

    £1,350 £1,350

    This is not your usual tatty rubbish...MGTF 135 in Xpower Grey 2003 1.8 with under 53200 miles MOT to May 19 Some service history, two keys with working key fobs. In very good condition, well cared for and looked after, excellent tyres, recent stainless steel under floor cooling pipes. New head gasket, water pump and cambelt in 2017.Roof in excellent condition (replaced in 2011) with a clear rear screen Comes complete with tonneau cover and wind deflector. Pioneer aftermarket radio/Cd playler with 4 speaker system. A good well cared for example, garaged and not used in winter so bodywork in great shape. Great fun to drive, same engine as the S1 Lotus Elise. Really worth a look .AA / RAC Inspections welcome

    • Mileage: 53200 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
    £1,350 £1,350
  • Mg Tf 1.6, 114 Bhp Model 2004 with 45k and 11 Months Mot

    £995 £995

    My Mg has been meticulously maintained and had many upgrades in its life,, including Multi Composite Cambelt Kit with water pump, Stretch bolts, Cambelt Kit. In addition Uped Shock absorbers with springs, Stainless underfloor Cooling pipes interior mods etc. I have had fitted New rear Tyres last Week & had a New Mot last month. My Mg was a Burden of love with its previous Lady owner for some 5 years, she had a car park altercation with minor cosmetic scars. her Insurance company declared it an unviable repair, .She brought it from the company and had it repaired, a year or so later a reversing ding then I purchased it down in Worthing, I have used it an covered some 3k the last 2 years,it still has 2 cosmetic marks and a rear hood plastic window that could be repaired to make perfect.but my car is has proven thoroughly reliable and a joy to drive. My circumstances have changed and I am not using it enough, so have decided to sell,, to hopefully an enthusiastic Mg Fan!!.. Please Call me for any further details. 07813 451385

    • Mileage: 45240 mi
    • Engine size: 1588
    For sale
    £995 £995
  • MG MG TF

    £3,490 £3,490

    Alarm, Immobiliser, Keyless Entry, Locking Wheel Nuts, Head Restraints, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, ABS, Metallic Paintwork, Front Fog Lamps, UK Supplied, UK Specification, Radio, CD Player, Electric Windows, 16'' Alloys, Service history WE ARE CURRETLY OFFERING A MINIMUM £750 IN PART EXCHANGE ! THIS IS A LOVELY EXAMPLE WITH REMOTE LOCKING , CD PLAYER , 16'' ALLOY WHEELS ,COLOUR CODED HOOD , DRIVERS AIR BAG ,ELECTRIC WINDOWS , POWER STEERING PLUS LOTS MORE ! PRIOR TO DELIVERY THIS VEHICLE WILL COME FULLY PREPARED WITH A SERVICE , SAFETY CHECK FULL VALET AND A COMPREHENSIVE PARTS AND LABOUR WARRANTY , PART EXCHANGE IS A PLEASURE AND FINANCE CAN BE ARRANGED SUBJECT TO STATUS.

    • Mileage: 80050 mi
    • Engine size: 1588
    For sale
    £3,490 £3,490
  • MG TF

    £3,995 £3,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. An exceptional MG TF 135 with just 23,823 miles, ready for fun in the sun! EQUIPMENT Reinforced body structure, door side intrusion beams, body-colour bumpers and trim, tinted glass, bright sill finishers, seat belt pretensioners, fuel tank cage, high tensile tubes in A pillars, impact absorbing front and rear structures, laminated windscreen, high level brake lamp, remote central superlocking, Thatcham Category 2 immobiliser, perimetric and volumetric alarm system, heated electric door mirrors, panel lamp rheostat, drivers airbag, tonneau cover. Dealer accessories; Chrome Safety Roll Hoops with turbulence deflector. EXTERIOR This stunning MG TF sports car is finished in Starlight Silver Metallic, (Code MBB). The beautiful paintwork boasts an incredible finish, entirely commensurate with the exceptionally low mileage covered by this cherished example. The underside is clean and free from applied underseal to allow easy inspection of the excellent condition, and the original panels are superb with factory spot welds to the wheel arches clearly visible. Only two miniscule dings to the nearside are noteworthy. All bumpers and trim sections are spotless with no scuffs whatsoever and the manufacturer badges and Union Jack wing plates remain unblemished. The durable woven acrylic fabric grey hood is effortless in operation and the plastic rear screen is totally clear and undamaged having been protected by the felt backed cover. One tiny nick to the outer hood layer is visible. Originality seekers will be pleased to see the supplying dealer number plates still fitted. A truly beautiful example, one for continued preservation and enjoyment. INTERIOR The comfortable yet snug ‘Ash’ cockpit offers real sports car appeal with open top motoring delights. The Sebring cloth fluted seat facings with plain black bolsters, (Code PVD), are in excellent order, and the matching door cards and black carpeting are very clean, adhering to such cosseted ownership and little use. Even the factory sticker within the offside door shut remains intact. The flawless dashboard houses fully functioning switchgear, and the silver faced dials and chunky leather trimmed steering wheel accentuate the sporting nature. The original snug MG tonneau is the genuine item for a super neat fit. A surprisingly large rear boot is pristine and the additional front compartment displays factory plates, stickers and even PDI markings! A true two-seater open-top sports car. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The original four cylinder 1796cc engine produces 136bhp at 6700rpm and 165Nm torque at 5000rpm enabling a top speed of 127mph and 0-60 in just 8.2 seconds. The mid-mounted engine and rear wheel drive configuration displays all the correct sports car credentials to ensure optimum driver delight! A cambelt, water pump and service have just been carried out in April 2018. The short throw sports ratio five speed gearbox completes the package with precise changes. Tremendous fun! WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The factory fitted 15” square spoke alloy wheels are in amazing condition with original MG badged centre caps. A very light scratch to one wheel only can be seen upon close inspection. The front and rear tyres of size 185/55 R15 and 205/50 R15 respectively show plenty of tread, and the spare wheel with original Goodyear GT3 tyre is secured in the front compartment along with the jack and brace stored in the leatherette bag. The braking system incorporates electronic anti-lock assistance and discs all round (ventilated front) to offer positive stopping power. HISTORY FILE Supplied new by MG Rover Main Dealer, Ames Rover of Bury St. Edmunds on the 1st September 2004, this outstanding MG TF has covered incredibly low 23,823 miles from new, in the hands of dedicated enthusiasts. The previous owner, having purchased the car in 2009 from a friend in his village, has enjoyed the car solely for weekend dry weather use with garage storage insisted. Throughout his ownership, fastidious upkeep has taken place with all MOT’s and annual servicing and maintenance invoices kept in the history file. A full extended service has just been carried out along with a cambelt and water pump change in April 2018 to offer complete confidence. The original handbook and service book is fully stamped and there are two original keys with remote fobs and tags. Enjoying a dedicated following, and with excellent parts supply network and easy maintenance, good examples are a sheer joy to own. This pristine MG TF offers the complete package of a preserved, well maintained and superb performing example, fast becoming hugely desirable and firmly a modern classic. MOT April 2019, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/Lo_MezRU2_I To see a full set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskwbyUdp 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 23823 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
    £3,995 £3,995
  • MG TF

    £5,995 £5,995

    6 MONTHS WARRANTY INCLUDED, Cambelt Changed, Low Mileage, LIMITED EDITION, Full Leather, Air Conditioning, Hard Top, NEW MOT ON PURCHASE, Alloy wheels, Full service history

    • Mileage: 44477 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
    £5,995 £5,995
  • MG TF 1,3 Roadster

    €31,100(£0) €31,100(£0)

    MG TF 1,3 Roadster Equipment: Bemærk bilen står i Odense Total restaureret Flot farve kombination Trådhjul rød læder skal ses ring for info prisen er ekskl reg afgift på ca. 8000 kr

    • Year: 1954
    For sale
    €31,100(£0) €31,100(£0)
  • MG TF 1,5 Roadster

    €33,800(£0) €33,800(£0)

    MG TF 1,5 Roadster Equipment: Ekstrem fin restaureret Køretøjet står som nyt ring for info Bemærk original 1500

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
    €33,800(£0) €33,800(£0)
  • MG TF 160 Trophy

    POA POA

    A very nice example of this late MG model, a proper sports car, built in limited numbers for this special edition model. 160 bhp. Well balanced, mid engine. 44,000 miles. Factory hard top in matching trophy yellow. Head gasket and water pump done. Great drivers car.

    For sale
    POA POA
  • MG TF 1500 Roadster 1954

    €31,500(£0) €31,500(£0)

    MG TF 1500 roadster 1954, matching numbers LHD The MG TF 1500 was produced for only 2 years, 3400 pieces were built. This is a 1954 MG in a beautiful dark green colour. The paint is older and has original patina. This MG has a beige Sonnenland softtop, as good as new and new black wire wheels with two-eared spinners. This MG has a black leather interior and a wooden steering wheel. The car has the original 1466CC, 64 HP engine and manual gearbox and is matching numbers. This original MG TF 1500 is ready for lots of driving fun. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1954
    For sale
    €31,500(£0) €31,500(£0)