Look at the raw performance figures and you’re unlikely to be bowled over with pure excitement. Even though the TF weights a reasonably lithe 1185kg and has 134bhp and 122lb ft to propel it, we are not talking about a car that can accelerate its way into the record books.

Zero to 60mph takes 8.5sec – more than a second slower than we recorded for the lighter 140bhp VVC-engined MGF back in the day – while the 25.5sec 0-100mph time also seems so-so compared with the opposition. Flat out, we managed 124.8mph, nicely in line with the claimed 124mph, but still a little shy of the Mazda MX-5.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Pace is merely respectable on paper, but the TF is more lively than that

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, subjectively, the TF feels an awful lot more lively than its basic numbers would suggest. Throttle response from the 1.8-litre engine is mustard keen without ever feeling neurotic; you can drive the TF smoothly, in other words, without requiring the dexterity of a ballet dancer on the pedals.

The engine also has a hearty appetite for revs and sounds just as happy at 6500rpm as it does at 2000rpm. The difference is that it delivers a lot more sparkle at high revs than it does in the mid-range; thank the high power peak and relative shortage of torque for that.

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Accessing the TF’s performance is good fun and easy by-and-large, thanks to a light and pleasingly slick five-speed gearbox and a cluster of pedals that are unusually well weighted. Occasionally the test car wasn’t so keen to select reverse, though – not a good sign considering how young the gearbox was. We’ll give NAC the benefit of the doubt and presume that it isn’t a typical problem.

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