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MGF TF 160
Here's an MG that's nearly as fast from 0-60mph as a Lotus Elise, sniffs at the heels of a Subaru Impreza WRX and will wipe the floor with a 2.2-litre *** Z3. The new TF 160 spearheads the revitalised MG TF range, and proves what a finely honed driver's car the stylish roadster has morphed into. The same team that turned Rover's humdrum family cars into desirable sports saloons has been let loose to toughen up the MGF.
Powered by a 1.8-litre in-line four, the TF 160 offers 158bhp. The car can really be driven hard up to the 7,100rpm red line, and sprints from 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds and on to a 137mph top speed.

Sitting 10mm lower than the standard model, the car we tested was fitted with a £150 sports suspension pack, which means stiffer springs and different damper rates. The set-up gives much more driver involvement, but the MG doesn't suffer from the bone-jarring side effects of its raw cut rivals such as the Lotus Elise. The steering's crisp, the gearbox allows you to fully use the rev range and the brakes prove strong. In short, the MG TF is a very capable driver's car.

With a starting price of £19,995 for a standard TF 160, the roadster undercuts the likes of the Elise and 2.2-litre *** Z3, despite offering more luxury than the former and a more exciting drive than the latter. There is still room for improvement, however. The staid interior differs little from that of the standard car, the steering wheel is non-reach-adjustable and the awkward stereo system will irritate drivers. Should you specify air-conditioning, you'll also have to live with a brick-sized intrusion into the passenger footwell.

Setting aside niggles such as these, though, the TF 160 is a far better car all round - and that's something MG, and any owner, should be very proud of.

The top-of-the-range TF is not only a hoot to drive but, taking into account its performance, is also competitively priced - and it should ensure the MG remains Britain's most popular roadster.

At a glance

* MG TF 160 is on sale in UK now, priced £19,995

* Flagship model powered by a 158bhp (160PS) 1.8-litre engine

* Several grades of Sports Pack available from £150 to £1,850

* Interior trim can be specified to a buyer's individual taste
 
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