Well, now I can answer my own question because after driving the MG during a week of lovely early autumn sun, the weather took a turn and my opinion has not changed. Rain or shine, the car has been a delight.
Often a preconception with a car like the TF is that it is a sports car, therefore it will be thirsty. Wrong. I did a sun- drenched 400-plus mile return motorway trip from Stamford to Blackpool and I was staggered to discover that the car managed 46mpg on the trip. And I had got a glowing late summer tan and a great drive.
I have three friends that owned MGfs as company cars, and a number of faults were apparent. Seals around the windows were not the most watertight and the gearbox on one had become vague to the point of amnesia. They were as rattly as a bag of spanners as well.
With our new MGTF approaching 10,000 miles, there are no indications it will go the same way. The gearbox feels wonderfully engineered and snaps into each gear and there is not a rattle or a squeak to be heard.
MG Rover claimed at the launch the new car was 20% stiffer and the improvement really is marked.
The only effect of ageing so far appears to be that the engine has become a little rougher at tickover. This problem has been with the car since it arrived at Fleet Towers but a colleague noticed the noise has become much louder with a few more miles under its belt – something which will be examined at the car's next service.
But a prospective owner of an MGTF should not sign on the dotted line before being aware of certain ticks and quirks they will have to learn to live with over three or four years: the lack of interior space, the constant wind noise, stiff ride, misted-up rear window when it is damp, some wobbly dials and the hard work needed to keep the thing going smoothly in urban crawl.
But to be honest, if a driver is not prepared to accept the TF's shortcomings from the start, then they are never going to truly love it and learn to live with it – they should leave it alone and take a safe hatchback or saloon option instead. But if they are young, free, single and enjoy driving, this is a car with a smattering of practicality and skip-loads of fun.
Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer) £61.80 per month