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MG MGF Technical - Cornering

I did not want to add this one to the tyres thread, but this morning I found my car went out of control when I was cornering. The back went out. The road conditions was not bad. The road was damp but not soaking wet. It was not freezing either. I was amased to find who easy it is for the back end of the car to lose grip. You are surposed to have superior grip in a mid engine car. What is happening? and why so easy? I have go round this corner in a 1.6 1997 escort with skinny 185/60 tyres in similar conditions and faster. Surely this is not possible. (my car setup is standard, except for lowering knuckles. But I have the height at 340. Tyres are OEM's)

Good news is that no one was coming the ohter way but I did end up on the other side of the road. No damage which is the good news.

Simple really - the F is actually fairly poor at cornering, it's mid engined and heavy. The two make for really easy mistakes.

In the dry the weight distribution, mid engine, and wide tyres can help the F corner, but in the wet it is too easy to start a slide.

And you don't slide a mid-engined car, it spins. A FWD car will easily outcorner an F in the wet (or damp).

So - drive carefully in the the hard cornering for the dry.



Agree with Casey's comments, my old RS Turbo would easily out corner my F in the wet. After my spin last year I now tiptoe in the wet.

Glad your OK.


This is exactly the behaviour I found and which drove me to try to find the best rear tyres I could to keep me on the road.

It is probably true that this experience has made me a little more cautious, but it has been very apparent that my current S02s just have SO much more grip in all conditions than the NCT3. In the last 12 months the rear has been surprisingly and reassuringly secure.

Incidentally, and to borrow some more from the 'tyres' thread, I coming to the conclusion that there is a lot to be said for maintaining some understeer so as to try to avoid going into the, potentially more serious, oversteer alternative.

Peter Ambrose
Peter Ambrose

A counter point to Casey's view:

An Escort actually weighs more than an F, and has skinnier tyres as Steve already points out. This means that per unit area of tyre contact patch, the majority of cars put more pressure down on the tarmac. Therefore they are less prone to aquaplaning.

205 or 215 section tyres are WIDE.
Tyre choice will make a big impact on wet weather performance.

Chassis dynamics is a complex issue that I do not pretend understand- but there is more to it than has been said so far. I am sure that the way that the F has been set up as standard has something to do with the wayward wet handling- and perhaps by altering the tracking specs a more satifactory compromise can be achieved. Certainly lighter cars [appear to?] perform better than the F in the wet... and this must have as much something to do with suspension geometry as weight distribution.

I spotted a good book title the other day on the subject of suspension set up and tuning... maybe I'll go and order it! ;o)

Robert Bell

Rob, I agree, I think, with your point on aquaplaning - but is that the whole story? My understanding of aquaplaning is that this happens when there is just more water than the tyre can plough through and it then loses contact with the road. Is this also the case even in damp and , subjectively, slippery conditions?

It sounds intuitive, if not necessarily correct, that you will benefit from wide tyres up to some point when there is just too much water for them - and that point will arrive earlier for wider tyres. If this is correct then the interesting question is how to tell when you have reached this point?

Peter Ambrose

>> I spotted a good book title the other day on the subject of suspension set up and tuning

Rob you forgot to mention the title ... coffee table looks a little bare these days :)

205/215 tyres may be wide compared to an Escort, but they are nothing compared to the 235's you'll find on a TVR.

The TVR will comfortably leave the F on a tight corner in the pouring rain because it not only has a very good ratio of F/R weight (so does the F) but it has the engine at the front (and I'm not talking about using the TVR's acceleration here). So although a car like the Griffith is prone to oversteer and you can easily put the back out in the wet, it is far more predictable and *far* easier to correct than in a car like the F.

The F is designed to understeer by default becasue it's a safer option in the case of something going wrong. But with little weight actually over the front wheels if the back slides away the car will very easily spin and the steering rack on the F is neither fast enough or responsive enough to catch an unexpected break away. Having had to correct the F nearly 8 times to catch one tank slap on a race track I certainly know that the steering just wasn't doing what it was told. The rear wheel drive just makes problems worse.

Although thin tyres on an Escort reduce the chance of aquaplanning, the main reason it will go around a corner quicker is that the car is being pulled, so the back is unlikely to slide due to wheelspin.

Whilst a mid-engined Ferrari is easy to slide and control, this is partly to do with suspension/chassis setup - but a lot more to do with a large wheelbase. The F is basically too small for a mid engine design.

Stick to pushing the F (or any car really) in the dry - it is a far superior dry performaer than in the wet.

Oh - and one other thing - the Limited Slip Diff on the Griff/Ferrari will help one hell of a lot if a wheel does lose traction......



yada yada yada ...

Rob knows a lot about fast and safe wet weather driving/racing in the F. (Harewood Hillclimb)
Listen to him.

Of course, you never know (back to the original post) there may have been diesel or something on the road.

I had that a couple of months ago (or i presumed) on my regular country route to work. A corner i normally take at around 60, i just happened to be catching up a slower veh. and went round at 45-50. The back end started out and had i been going faster, might have been nasty.

just an idea as i haven't experienced anything like that in the wet unless travelling much too fast.
was the same each day for a week, then fine again even in the wet.

also, it was one of those really shiny 'hasn't been resurfaced for 20 years' type roads.

Thanks Paul- I know rather more about spinning F's on wet tracks with sheep's poo spread over them unfortunately- although a number of 'big moments' were caught.<g> ;o)

To say that it is impossible to catch an F once the rear lets go isn't true.

In fact the F's wheel base is surprisingly long compared to track and total body length. This should and does mean that slides are catchable.

However, circumstances do arise when you are taken totally unawares- and here the speed at which the back can go makes things difficult. Very difficult actually.

Just as Julian says, greasy road surfaces, a bit of diesel, black ice etc would catch any of us out.

Peter, yes- I guess it is more of a question than pure aquaplaning. I would think that the driven rear wheels does play an imprtant role. The rear wheels are relatively unladen as you enter a corner under braking (most load on front offside [to corner's radius] wheel). As a result the rears put even less pressure on the road. With the additional torque from the engine, this will lead to loss of traction: the wheel with the least grip would be the rear inside [to corner radius] wheel. No limited slip differential compounds the mismatch- and the rear end steps out promptly.

Under these circumstances the safest cornering technique would be slow in (lose as much speed as possible before entering the corner), and fast out. Here the MGF has a huge advantage as the weight is rear biased over the driving wheels- traction out of corners is excellent.

Gaz, I shall look the title and author of the book up and let you know. I saw it listed in KCSi magazine so haven't had a chance to browse through its covers...


Robert Bell

The moral of the story is to take it easy driving the F unless the road is dry and the weather conditions good. Better to take longer and get there in one piece on not get there at all or very late with a wrecked F.
Paul Lathwell

Steve, as you have found ,fortuanatley without any damage, that the rear is prone break away when roads are damp and greasy, this F-nonmenon, IMO ,is due to tracking ,excessive suspension movement and a compromised suspension design. To improve it quite dramatically you can replace the suspension bushes to polyurethane ,which will eliminate unwanted movement and help retain "correct" geometry making the car more predictable/controllable, reset the wheel alignment to toe in at the front and toe out at the rear (or try parallel ). Look at the rear lower tie bar bushes and you will see a gap between the large bush and the steel washer, this gap tends to get wider the more mileage the car has done and allows more movement of the rear wheels contributing to the sudden loss of rear wheel grip and see-saw action when trying to recover.At the very least replace the rear tie bar bushes and check the shocks/ tyre pressures are correct, hope this helps Mike.

While I agree with Casey's early comment that the MGF is too heavy, it can be made to handle 'properly' with a standard setup. On standard tyres my F could oversteer or understeer on demand. Tyre pressures were a key issue here. Anything over the recommended 26/28 proved dangerous.
However, I'm unhappy with the F's predictability. At the limit it can be nasty. My Lancia Monte Carlo - also mid engined, *never* showed these nasty tendencies. Is this because it was lighter? had better suspension ? a better driving position ? At the limit, the Lancia was a delight; the limit should be avoided in the F, sadly.


Hi all,
Can olny agree with Mike and Steve about "F" handling, especially in the wet /and / or on the limit.

Have been fortunate to be able to drive most of Porsches during the years, from old 356 -short wheelbase 911 - 914 - 914/6 and all the way up to electronically stabilized 911´s. NEVER during these years on/off track I have been more scared than on first trackday with my "F" in -97 ! There was absolutly no way that unpredictable behavior could be foreseen. Also almost impossible to catch when rear end got over a certain angle due to slow steering.
OK, I can hear You - the "F" was never intended to be driven on the limit... But it has to be safe and predictable.. Since -97 an ongoing work with input from many on this BBS the car gets better and better. Started with exchange of those flimsy tie-bar bushings and now with PU almost all around as well as lowering and correct wheel settings I think it is as close as can be to a good mid-engine car. Choise of tyres and correct pressure is also very important but there is still one question that hasnt been answered yet ; Why is the "F" the single mid-engined car in this world with front toe out and rear toe in as works-standard ??? No chassie setup "bible" has ever gone for this setup - they even warn for it as the most dangerous to have at any circumstance !

Regards , Carl.

You won't be surprised to find that I agree with Mike's comments on geometry. The suspension bushes are indeed rather soft to allow passive rear wheel steer- a phenomenon particularly evident under braking: the rear wheel toe angle changes dramatically. In fact the subframe bushes are quite soft too- so the thrust axis of the rear wheels can change quite dramatically too.

Mike's bush kit is probably the best solution to reduce these unwanted changes- but may be a bit costly for some.

For the rear tie bar, a bush spacer kit is available for about twenty quid from B&G. This will reduce some of the geometry changes and allow you to use more neutral rear toe angles in relative safety.

I also totally agree with Steve regarding tyre pressures. Go for lower pressures in the wet, and higher pressures in the dry. Not that anyone would actually adjust tyre pressures every time they drive the car... would they?


Robert Bell

My comment on this question :

>To say that it is impossible to catch an F once the rear lets go isn't true.

I agree with Rob. I had a training on BMW 3 series last month to learn how to drive a RWD in the wet.
I asked then to try with the F and I did it. Compared to the sedan, the F is more difficult to stop spinning but you can do it. It spins more quickly than the BMW but I managed several times to stop the spin, even with rear worn tyres. Very amazing feeling ! At this moment, your F is no longer your "loved" car, it's just a steering wheel and pedals.

>Go for lower pressures in the wet, and higher pressures in the dry.

Maybe I'm wrong but I was told during the same training course that you should higher pressure on the wheels you want more grip, that is to say on the rear wheels in our case.

121 CCK 92

Black ice or diesel on the road will cause (usually) a single wheel to spin. Without a limited slip diff you are likely to lose the back end.

The problem is that although the F can be caught when the back end goes, a number of factors make it very difficult:
- PAS is unresponsive
- Steering rack is slow and inaccurate
- Weight distribution is against you

Best bet in the F is to get your foot off the accelerator smoothly, and don't put it anywhere near the brake.

Firmer suspension is unlikely to make much difference in the wet - though it should help a huge deal in the dry. In fact it could probably make cornering worse in the wet (without a LSD) as the wheels are more likely to skip over small indentations and spin.

And to avoid the problem in the first place, take a driving course and pay particular attention to how to take a corner.

I got an opportunity to drive a Formula One car last year, and they were as nervous as hell about it as it had 600bhp going through the back wheels - it could wheelspin in 5th gear at 100mph.....

They repeatedly emphasised good cornering technique - brake *before* the corner in a straight line, stop braking *before* the corner and get the car balanced (front / rear), keep the throttle *absolutely* constant throughout the corner and under no circumstances use the brake, apply the power *only* when you have reached the apex and apply it in a direct correlation to the unwinding of the steering lock - you should be at full power when the steering is straight again and not before.


Hi all,

I am driving a 99 1.8I and was very surprised by the handling under braking. I am not an expert at all, but it felt that when you brake (dry or wet)the car is 'wobbling'if you know what I mean. It feels like you constantly make small steering corrections. Is that what you mean with >- a phenomenon particularly evident under braking< Rob?

Do you need to go to a specialist to correct these suspension settings and parts or can de Rover dealer be off any help. I don't know of anybody else in Ireland that knows anything about the MG F.



>It feels like you constantly make small steering corrections.


Sounds like tramlining. Due to a bad road surface (and most are) cars with wide tyres have a tendency to try to follow grooves in the road that others have made - and you have to keep a firm hold of the steering.

If it's worse than that (i.e. the car is wandering around) then get down to your dealer to have the geometry checked (check your tyre pressures and wear first).


Guys, I don't know how you blokes drive your cars in the Northern Hemisphere, but I've not had any problems when cornering in the "F" either in the wet or dry.

To put some perspective on it, are we talking about "your normal right angled corner", or "slight bends" in the road or something in between? Are we also taking into consideration personal driving habits? Are folks pretending to be "Stirling Moss" (or Jack Brabham) and feel they can "throw the car around a bit" or are folks taking it pretty easy?

I just can't see how the back end of the car can slide out, other than sliding on oil or ice.



>I just can't see how the back end of the car can slide out

Easy, if there is more centrifugal force operating than your tyres have grip for you will slide. You obviously drive like a wuss :-)

As Steve said, the F is perfectly safe below the limit, at the limit it can get unpredictable and scary.


Phil, try going around a corner in the wet, then pretend a Z3 is about to overtake you and wallop the accelerator.
Betcha the back end kicks out.


So how does the Elise fare in all of this ?

The Elise is better in the dry, a lot worse in the wet - especially when braking (no ABS). The thing is so light the grip in the wet is terrible.

I've driven two Elises in the wet - the standard 1.8 and the VVC. Both handled superbly - light weight is an advantage when cornering in the wet (mass is a major factor in acceleration, even sideways ;-).

The tyres on the Elise are actually quite thin, so it cuts through water easily too.

I'm still not that impressed by the Elise generally though - nice go kart, but only the VVC really has enough power, and it needs more.


> I just can't see how the back end of the car can slide out, other than sliding on oil or ice.

Phil, just follow these instructions ....

Drive to a wet roundabout or any place where you can do a circle,
Turn around it in 1st gear with steering wheel at 90 degrees,
Accelerate up to 6000 revs,
Put quickly the 2nd gear and push very hard on the accelerator,
The result is here ... the back slides out automatically and if you don't turn the steering wheel to the opposite direction (I don't know the English word for "contrebraquer" (people from Belgium may help ....)) then you are going for a spin.

Very easy.

121 CCK 92

All said above leads to one single question:

Have anyone fitted Racelogics traction control to an "F"? And what difference in wet handling?


Casey wrote:

>>I got an opportunity to drive a Formula One car last year<<

Me me me me me me me, I want to do this. Was this at Mallory Park, or did you go abroad? I'd appreciate getting the full SP if you feel like emailing me.

I know this is getting off-topic - I'd take it offline if I knew Casey's email address...

Mike Bees

No! Keep it on board! I'm sure a group could be got together!

BTW, the Lotus board is at:

The subject of spinning seems to come up pretty regularly there. A German Elise driver once described the Elise in the wet as 'better than a roller coaster ride'.

>Me me me me me me me, I want to do this. Was this at
>Mallory Park, or did you go abroad? I'd appreciate
>getting the full SP if you feel like emailing me.


Luckily I got to go as a's bloody expensive (around a grand for the full day).

I went to Mallory Park - I'm told the South of France one uses very old cars.

Starting with laps in a GT car (in my case an Elise VVC), moving onto a Formula Ford car, then into a Formula Vauxhall, then finally the Tyrell.

Absolutely amazing experience - it's probably a bit expensive if you're paying though (I probably wouldn't do it - but then again you're only going to get one chance in a lifetime...)

The full report went on MotorMag:

Like I said - they were paranoid about what they described as 'a throttle that would accelerate the car if you breathed on it'. It was certainly sensitive, but I got very high marks on the day due to the fact that my Griffith is pretty much the same (though about half the power and 75% of the weight ;-). Use the starting cars to get a real feel for the track and how quick a race car is - because that F1 is scary.

We got to go out for demo laps after with a guy in a SuperSports with a 1.6 Escort engine - he was consistently lapping the F1 car driven by us pussies...I managed to keep up for about half a lap before he lost me :-) Fastest I have ever been around a racetrack (including the F1)...

The tutors and staff were superb - very good advice, very skilled, and very worried about their two F1 cars :-)



Dot, it has been a while since I last visited the Elise BBS (archecture very similar to the old (Mk1?) BBS we had here. Boy does it make you appreciate what Mike has achieved :o)

Anyway- yup, you are absolutely right about spinning threads on that BBS... here's just one for starters!

Basically, none of us should forget that our steeds are not FWD hot hatches but RWD rear/mid engined sportsters.

Rob Bell

When the AA took my car away, I asked the driver if he saw many MGFs with blown gaskets.
He said no - he'd mostly seen the car after it had spun and crashed. Same for the Elise.



Just to add, on the morning of the 12th, although in a completely different area, i noticed the same thing and not just driving the F. The road conditions were rather strange, Damp, but not wet. And the air temperature was about 7 degrees all day. Even so, most of the roads were greasy and treaturous.


Just as I thought, you blokes are bunch of hooligans (LOL) - not satisfied in taking a corner like most folks, oh no, stick it in 1st or second and then tromp it - where's the fun in that if the backend sticks out like the fat lady's bum? Now I know why there are so many HGF's.


I've only owned an F for a month and I am finding these comments fairly disconcerting.

Regarding the "limit" is this something that one will get a feel for by explorative driving over time or is it a catastrophic "s**t I've lost it" type of occurrence that can happen unexpectedly, unless driving as if you were carrying a load of nitroglycerin?


martin scott


Er ....well, in fact, both I think ;-)

First time I went into a spin, it was because I accelerated too hard when coming out a roundabout.
I mean I accelerated too hard compared to the wet road surface. On the dry it would have no effect, but in the wet ..... Be careful in wet conditions ... or learn how to get out of a spin ;-)

I think for snow or black ice, it's more something like "s**t I've lost it" ! And you can't do much against that (whereas you can in the rain)

Jérôme (no longer a driving explorer)

Best not to get into a spin on a public road- there is rarely enough room to collect before hitting something.

The AA man's comment is interesting (regarding the most commeon call out for F's and Elises being for spin/crash). Maybe this explains why our insurance premiums increase year on year. :o(

It just shows that Rover were right to give the car such cautious suspension geometry and narrow (relatively low performance) tyres. Better to understeer than spin off. And I wonder that if the car had a faster rack, more accidents would be caused by over steering compensation?

I for one would prefer a faster steering rack (understatement). I wonder if one might be made available?

Mike are you listening? ;o)

Rob Bell

>Maybe this explains why our insurance premiums
>increase year on year. :o(

It has ever since I had my F - the premium would have gone up 30%, partly for my accident (which was no fault), but mostly because the Insurer (ITT L&E) was getting so many rear and side damaged F's - they stopped insuring them a while back AFAIK

An F slide certainly is an 'oh sh*t - where did that go' experience, but in the dry it's far more predictable and a lot harder to touch the limit.

The F is a compromise - if it did have a faster rack and firmer suspension it would handle better at the limit but would catch 90% of F drivers (who never even approach the limit) and probably cause them real problems. The first time people get in a TVR they are usually gobsmached by how quick the rack is, and that's frequently when they are staring at a pavement or watching the rear end overtake them :-)



Thanks for your your responses.


>I've only owned an F for a month and I am finding these comments fairly >disconcerting.

Just take it as a warning that you need to respect the F in the wet and other slippery road conditions. Any car you buy will be a comprimise in one way or another, this is just one of the trade offs of owning an F IMO.

Home of the F'ers Gallery and MG Dealer Guide :)

Where are all the new submission? :)
Paul Lathwell

I think that there are a couple of fundamental issues here which have not yet been noted.

First the MGF design is a compromise which uses existing off the shelf parts (Metro) mounted to a new frame. Compromise usually leads to reduced levels of 'performance' in dynamic areas. This means that the sum of the 'on paper' attributes is somewhat greater than the achieved sum of the real car.

Next look at the frequently commented upon issues of suspension faults and variations, and we all know how much influence this has on the way in which an individual car handles and performs! All the comments have value, but trying to measure them against each other does not provide a valid comparison, since so much variation exists.

Everyone go out in the same car, on the same day, on the same track, with the same weather conditions, with the same fuel load and weight distribution and we now have a more valid comparison of views since the same car used provides a form of 'control'.


BTW I would also like a drive in an F1 car, and was asked about this at Autosports by a journo there. I had to say that practicalities outweigh desire. 1, I wouldn't fit, and 2, I would destroy the power to weight ratio!
Roger Parker

surely if Casey fitted in, then you could too ?!
David Smith

I have never spun my F, I came close a couple of times but found that with quick reaction things were easy to get back in line. Since I fitted decent tyres I found it hard to get the car to slide even in the wet when trying. Since I got the tracking revised (I think to the new recomendations, as Mike stated earlier) the car holds the road even better.

Why Rover let us all drive around with the wrong suspension setup for four years I'll never be able to understand, surly someone at Rover noticed it was wrong. That's one set of new tyres at least I would have saved.

I don't think a TVR can in any way be compared to an MGF, they are very different cars. The F is designed for a much wider market and does not even pretend to be a out and out racer.

Any rear wheel drive car should be driven with care in the wet, I spent a lot of time in a Capri going sideways years ago, it was always lots of fun.

When I started driving front wheel drive was not very common and I learned to drive in a RWD car and was used to the advantages and limitations. I find FWD cars always make me feel like I have no control. The car always feels like it was not going to make it.

The F can be tricky at times, but why else do you want a sports car, we want to be involved in the driving, having to use some skill to drive the car is all part of the fun. When you feel the back go one way or the other simply let off the throttle a bit and steer out of it.

I don't find the steering slow to respond, It's the best power steering I ever used, it has got me out of trouble a couple of times. The most scary thing about my F is no ABS :-)

Another novel next time I can't sleep

Tony Smith

As for official Rover tracking specs they are still

Front wheel toe out (per wheel) = 0 degrees 10 minutes +/- 6 minutes

Rear wheel toe in (per wheel) = 0 degrees 10 minutes +/- 6 minutes

As per technical Bulletin 0001 (4/9/96)

I recently spoke to my dealer (Ian at Syd Browns..who I trust) about revised tracking specs from Rover for the F including figures along the lines of what Mike mentioned. He rang Rover Engineering and confirmed that absolutely no revised specs had been issued by MG. The official spec are as Bulletin 0001 above (Rover told him to give me a copy, which he did).

So as far as i've been able to tell there is no official change in suspension set up.

Yep, just come from the other thread.
you are absolutely right. No other MG instruction exists 'official'.
But no german dealer i.e. follows the instructions. MS not and B&G not for example in your country.

Please read again very careful the two strategy sections and you'll get why now toe in or toe zero for the front wheels results in more protection against tyrewear. I mean the section about ride hight change while hardly braking...


Yep appreciate all that Dieter. I was just saying what the official line was from the cars actual manufacturer.

But the discussion was about 'wrong' settings' i guess its how you define wrong. Interested to know that German dealers are doing their own thing....i wonder if Rover knows. Some product liability implications?

This thread was discussed between 12/01/2000 and 18/01/2000

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