TEST DRIVE REPORT: MG TF LE500

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Recently I had the opportunity to roll back the years and take a nostalgic route to this Test Drive Report.  Although this vehicle wore an ‘09’ registration it was still a ‘blast from the past’ so to speak.  The car in question is the re-incarnated version of the MG TF.  Many will remember MG as one of Britain’s best-loved sports car brands.  In fact the TF was the UK’s best-selling roadsters that appealed across both sexes and all ages.  It was a time when it was fun to drive cars of this type.  Now, we must be law abiding at all times!
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Since then, Chinese automotive company SIAC has acquired the MG brand, and while the look of the car has remained unchanged, much has improved throughout.  Thankfully, the unique personality of the MG TF LE500, as this version is called, still exists.  As part of the take-over deal the new MGs are produced where the previous generation were built – at Longbridge, Birmingham.  K & C Garages Ltd., Churchtown, Dublin has been appointed as the importer of the MG brand to Ireland.

The new MG TF LE500 has been benefited from a number of cosmetic and specification improvements.  Body styling has been revised.  For €32,995 it now comes with leather seats, 16” alloy wheels, new piano black interior finish and air-conditioning.  In addition, the windstop and removable body colour hardtop are also standard.  As its name applies, the LE500 is a limited edition run with only 500 units sold with each one having an individual number. 

Following a (wet) week in its company, the combination of the mid-engine configuration and real wheel drive brought back pleasant memories of how sports cars once performed.  But at a price.  While the throaty roar of the 1.8 litre’s 135 horses were appreciated and the all-round handling of the car superb, the road and engine noise inside made it impossible to have a hands-free conversation on the mobile phone.  Also as a two seater, it felt a bit claustrophobic.  Exterior mirrors are tiny too!  Forget about the Pioneer CD/radio fitted – it’s a nightmare to operate.  If only we had the weather and keep the top down!  Sadly, it rained throughout the week in my presence.

Acceleration was good and together with great feedback and turn-in made the most challenging bends enjoyable.  What’s more, the suspension system set-up offers a fairly comfortable ride without compromising on its sports performance.  Despite its small dimensions, rear-parking sensors were fitted, which was a surprise.  Yes, the new MG TF LE500 remains true to its heritage but for over €32,000 there are a lot of better and more modern cars out there.  But if you desire a retro-feel of an open top two-seater sports car, then go and have a look and test drive.
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Spec Check

Make/Model:                MG TF LE500
Engine:                         1.8 litre 16 valve 4 cylinder petrol
Power/torque:               135 PS @ 6750rpm/165 Nm @ 5000 rpm
Transmission:               5 speed manual
Fuel consumption:        Combined 35.8 mpg – 7.9 l//100

Bands:                           CO2: Band E, VRT:  Rate 28%, Road Tax: €600

jarlath sweeney