Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Concepts : MG TF200 HPD

TF goes hybrid!

The public’s perception of the hybrid car is one of a boring, low speed economy car – a car that one would only buy if there were no other option. Cars such as the impressive Honda Insight and Toyota Prius have tended to re-inforce that perception, which is a shame, because hybrid cars, are undoubtedly the future. All it will take it for someone to market the concept correctly and produce a car that goes fast, looks good and delivers real fun. That’s where the skinny-tyred Prius and Insight lost out; they were economy cars…

Of course, people were saying exactly the same thing about diesel powered cars as recently as ten years ago. They were economical, for sure, but they were also slow, noisy and smelly – and the only reason one would buy such a thing were if low fuelling costs were paramount. By 2003, that had all changed; diesels look set to account for 33 per cent of the UK market, and not only are they economical, but they are also quick in a torquey kind of way, but companies like BMW and Peugeot have removed any last semblence dullness with their high performance coupe diesels.

The upturn in diesel popularity demonstrates perfectly that a “economy” format can be made sexy enough for people to buy in droves. The company car tax breaks offered to diesel buyers probably did their bit to help, too.

When one considers that the petrol/electric hybrid actually has fewer down sides than the diesel powered car, the popularity of the concept should be assured in the future. MG Rover have taken the petrol/electric hybrid a step closer to mass acceptance by launching their TF 200HPD, which uses its supplementary electric motor to deliver extra performance, at no real cost to economy.

MG Rover chose MIRA’s (Motor Industry Research Association) “Clean racing conference” as the venue for the 200HPD’s launch; a perfect venue, given that MIRA’s engineers worked closely with MGR in order to produce the car. As can be seen from the accompanying under bonnet photograph, the electric motor was housed at the front of the MG TF, normally where one might be expected to pack their toothbrush on a weekend’s jaunt. This motor produces 40PS, which is fed to the front wheels – giving the HPD 200 the combined output of 200PS that its name implies. It also means that 25 per cent of the car’s power is fed through the front wheels, meaning that the HPD 200 is a four wheel drive machine, without the disadvantages of propshafts, extra differentials and the weight that these items add to an overall package.

Lightly revised front end styling belies the myriad of changes under the skin...

Lightly revised front end styling belies the myriad of changes under the skin…

According to development director, Rob Oldaker, “MG Rover Group anticipates the potential of using hybrid technology to boost performance responsibly and to offer a range of additional functional benefits that include all wheel drive and city mode capability.” Let’s not also forget the potential motorsport applications. Back in 1998, McLaren proved that a re-generative system worked in F1 cars; energy produced by the braking system was stored in a small battery. This could be translated into extra power when the driver needed it by simply pressing a button – effectively, something for nothing. MG Rover’s press release for the HPD indicated that the company was thinking along the same grounds: “One potential motorsport application envisaged could use the battery pack to provide a finite number of boosted acceleration cycles, allowing evenly matched drivers to overtake and stimulate spectator appeal”.

MG Rover and MIRA were both keen to stress that the HPD 200 was more than a motor show flight of fancy; and that hybrid cars are currently under development; in October 2003, the two companies – along with Powertrain Ltd – were awarded a contract to develop these concepts into production viable passenger cars by the Government’s Energy Saving Trust.

Technical highlights

  • K Series 160Ps, 1.8-litre VVC petrol engine driving rear wheels
  • 40Ps high-output electric motor driving front wheels, through CVT drivetrain
  • (LMC200 D127 Motor)
  • Engine driven generator
  • Hawker SBS8 battery pack delivers 72v at 400 amps
  • BRUSA BRMD 506 motor controller
  • Mathworks XPC vehicle management
  • Aerodynamic Cd 0.32, zero front & rear lift
  • 50 / 50 weight distribution

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