The range of MG TF sports cars offered by Chinese-owned NAC MG will be pruned to just a single engine-variant – a 135bhp 1.8-litre unit – making for a much-slimmed down range compared to that offered during the car’s popularity peak.
Under the now-defunct MG-Rover, the TF was offered with four engine variants — a 115bhp 1.6, 120bhp 1.8 matched to a CVT gearbox and a range-topping 158bhp 1.8 VVC with variable valve-timing.
The 1.8 was by-far the most important engine in sales terms, though, contributing about 70% of volume, followed by the hotter VVC model with around 20%.
Confirming the slimmer model range, a NAC MG spokesman told just-auto: “Our only variant will be the 1.8, 135bhp and we won’t be building the VVC model”.
The 1.8-litre K-series engine and its PG1 five-speed gearbox will be supplied from China where it is built on a production line shipped from MG Rover’s former Longbridge outside Birmingham in central England.
Also to be supplied from China is the instrument panel (IP), which will be moulded in the Far East.
Although body supplier Stadco is commissioning a new body-in-white operation at Longbridge, the imported componentry from China will mean that the ‘local content’ of the new TF will fall far below its high British-content under MG-Rover.
“We can’t give a specific figure for domestic versus overseas content yet,” said the spokesman, “although higher technical content such as the ECU [engine control unit] has been sourced here in the UK.”
Since the engine and gearbox typically represent 30% by value of a car, and the (IP) is also a high content part, the TF will struggle to reach 60% British content.
The first-generation BMW Mini had very low local content – 40% – thanks to a petrol engine supplied from Brazil, a diesel from Japan and many other parts sourced from Europe to keep costs down.
The Nanjing TF’s sales target will also be much smaller than the Rover-assembled car. Initial production estimates are for 3,000 cars annually, with 2000 for sale in the UK – between a fifth and a quarter of what its predecessor managed.
The MGF and, later, the updated TF consistently outsold the rival Mazda MX-5 in Britain, sales peaking in 2003 at 9,295 units.
MGF/TF production and UK sales
Year Prod UK sales
1995 2,300 800
1996 16,000 6,100
1997 13,400 7,600
1998 14,800 7,700
1999 10,400 6,000
2000 9,672 5,800
2001 10,500 7,700
2002* 14,000 7,900
2003 14,000 9,295
2004 11,000 7,600
2005 631 2,000**
**Sales include cars built in previous years