The headline said, very simply, “MGF-ing marvellous”. It was one of the great car magazine cover lines of the era and, although it didn’t appear on the front of Autocar but instead on the front of one of our rivals, I’ll never forget the way it looked on the shelves.

It captured all that was good and cheerful and right about the brand-new MGF. When I drove the MGF over the North Yorkshire moors for the road test, I realised that the world of sports cars had become different from that day on.

Nearly 14 years later, I found myself sitting behind the badly positioned steering wheel of another new MG sports car, made on the same production line as the original but this time under Chinese ownership. And guess what? I felt the same sense of occasion, the same range of thrills as I did way back then.

Read the full road test of the MG TF here

The amazing discovery is that, even today, it still feels fresh and relevant and unusual in its personality.

To be honest I’d expected the Chinese-made MG TF to feel like a car from another era, a shed from yesteryear that deserves no place on our roads in 2009.