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 X70/X71 STORY  FROM AUTOTRADER

Autotrader 6 Feb 2002

The new car is a good three years away, but several basics have already been decided.

It will be front-engined, the power unit mounted well behind the front axle to the benefit of weight distribution and roadholding, and it will be rear-wheel drive, the layout best able to produce driver entertainment.

The new MG, codenamed X70, will be powered by a choice of four cylinder K series engines, some with a supercharger, as well as the KV6 - unless new alliances with other car makers produce alternative options - and be available with a six-speed manual or a sequential gearshift option.

The body structure will be steel monocoque rather than aluminium - alloy was considered, but the improved characteristics of high strength steels are more cost-effective, and are easier to engineer for good crash performance.

Suspension will probably consist of double wishbones at the front, and a sophisticated multi-link double wishbone arrangement at the rear. Front mid-engined layouts are increasingly popular because they provide safer handling characteristics at very high speeds, while enabling the keen drive to steer with the throttle thanks to rear-wheel drive. It's all down to weight distribution. The rear weight bias of rear mid-engined cars can result in very tricky road behaviour at high speeds, occasionally leading to high-speed spins.

Front mid-engined cars have a forward weight bias that makes them less prone to spinning, while ensuring decent traction for the driven rear wheels as well as allowing the driver to adjust his line with the accelerator mid-bend.

It's a layout long featured in the BMW 3 series, as well as the Z3 and Z8 sports cars too. TVRs, Honda's S2000 and Nissan's 350Z also use the layout, as will Aston Martin's its forthcoming cheaper sports car.

In the nearer future, expect the next development with the MG TF to be the emergence of a 200 bhp supercharged version - a model long-predicted, but never seen, in the MGF range. In acceleration terms, it should take the TF towards supercar territory.

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