Words and photography: Alexander Boucke
As long as I can remember – and a bit longer still – my family and I have always and exclusively driven British-built cars. These were, at first, Austin and Morris but, after the ‘Roverisation’ in the days of Graham Day, they were slowly replaced with Rovers (which some die-hard Rover nuts would have said to be more Austin than Rover anyway).
In a way this has become a trademark of our family, helped by the fact that all of these cars have always been rare here in Germany and easy to recognise. As our general experience has been a good one over nearly five decades and endless miles, I’d be happy to continue with this.
That’s not a problem at the moment as our current daily drivers are certainly fit for some more use and fulfil all our needs: the Maestro as a cheap to run, compact and yet roomy town car and the Rover Tourer as economical and comfy family car.
Over time the 416 Tourer has proved to be a particular good choice – it is just large enough to swallow our family of four with all our stuff for a long holiday trip, but small enough to be easy to use in town, while the K-Series is very frugal with fuel on a run, yet quick if needed. As the miles pile on, currently closing in on 175,000, it also proves to be a very robust and durable car.
AROnline has recently been full of good news about the British motor industry going from strength-to-strength. You’d think, then, it should be possible to find an imaginary replacement for the Tourer. My requirements are simple: it needs to be roomy, economical, have a compact footprint – and, of course, a recognisable British badge. Jaguar, Land Rover and MINI are all successful siblings of the once mighty BLMC empire but dismissing their current ranges can be done quickly – the cars are either too small inside, too large outside or have features we neither need nor want (4×4).
So what else is out there? Honda, Nissan and Toyota may be British-built, but are not badged as such and are ultimately seen as Japanese. Vauxhall? Good question – it is undeniably an old British brand with a long tradition. However, apart from not being able to buy one here, everyone would see it as a German-made Opel with different badges stuck on (some would also see a hint of questionable taste, as Vauxhall badges have been used on certain Corsas together with after-market add-ons).
What about adding used cars which are actually newer than the Rover Tourer to the list? Well, the Jaguar X-Type and Rover 75 Tourer suddenly appear on the radar. These are certainly fine cars, fulfilling quite a few of our requirements. Sadly, both have a rather appalling lack of roominess and, while offering hardly (if at all) any more usable interior or luggage space, they are actually too large on the outside to be really practical in town.
Hang on, how about MG? Currently, MG does not sell any cars outside the UK, so it is not even an option on our imaginary list. That said, the MG6 hatchback certainly could suit us in terms of size and impressed us with ride and handling on a test drive and the MG3 looks like it could be a modern-day Maestro replacement. But is it all in the badge?
Would I be happy to drive a Chinese-made car because of the all-important badge? Serious production in Longbridge certainly would strengthen the appeal no end!
A serious case of badge snobbery? Or should I just go out and buy another Citroën C4 Picasso? They are the perfect size and shape – I just need to stick a Rover badge onto the front…