3 November 2003

MG Rover has unveiled its most powerful TF roadster yet: this unique hybrid-powered 200bhp 4wd version. The one-off is tagged ‘200 HPD’ (Hybrid Performance Development) and was unveiled at the Motorsport Industry Association’s Clean Racing Conference last week.

Based on a TF160, the HPD retains the 158bhp 1.8-litre VVC petrol engine driving the rear wheels, but adds a 39bhp high-output electric motor driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.

The combination of 197bhp and the traction of four-wheel drive has cut the 0-60mph dash from 6.9sec to less than 6.0; MG Rover tags this ‘responsible performance’, it being achieved with no increase in emissions or fuel consumption. Both should be reduced around town, where a ‘City’ mode makes the engine idle while the electric motor is used.

The HPD also offers ‘Hotshift’ gearchanges, in which the electric motor delivers continuous power through the front wheels during cog-swapping, like the VW/Audi DSG dual-clutch ’box.

Insiders claim the technology could be used in motor sport, with battery packs providing limited extra acceleration. ‘It’s about making motor sport more interesting and allowing technology to grow,’ said one source.

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The MG TF is Britain’s second best-selling roadster, and the HPD was developed in tandem with the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA).

Similar technology could be seen in future MG Rover production cars and, as Autocar reported last week, the firm has been awarded a share of £10m from the Department for Transport’s New Vehicle Technology Fund to develop ultra-low-carbon vehicles. ‘Now we have been successful in the ULCV bid we will be taking that technology forward for real-world applications,’ said a spokesman.

MG Rover will unveil its ULCV concept – a family car offering 75mpg, CO2 of less than 100g/km and 0-60mph in under 16sec – in ’06, but insiders confirm a production car is at least five years away.

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