Rover RDX60 : Gallery and timeline

RDX60 timeline

Images of the RDX60 project, and its evolution from 75-based mule to a range of saloon and hatchbacks for the Chinese market, presented to SAIC around Easter 2005…

What can be seen is that the styling was fixed fairly early on and then refined as further parties showed an interest in MG Rover. What looked fresh and exciting could well have ggrown stale by the delayed launch in 2006/2007 – hence the last minute re-style proposals.


August 2001

A mysterious image of a Rover hatchback appears in Autocar magazine. At the time of the original  picture reveal, the magazine also discloses that the new programme is based on a shortened Rover 75  platform and is known as the RD60. It later transpires that the image is a hoax, cooked up by MGR's  Public Relations department.

A mysterious image of a Rover hatchback appears in Autocar magazine. At the time of the original picture reveal, the magazine also discloses that the new programme is based on a shortened Rover 75 platform and is known as the RD60. It later transpires that the image is a hoax, cooked up by MGR's Public Relations department.

2001 Styling sketches

Peter Stevens’ team penned these designs – and as can be seen, the ambition was for a rugged, solid look for the RDX60.

Another styling sketch of the five-door hatch - and in this case, a low, lean and big-wheeled look  replaced the 'soft-roader' scheme. Real potential for style...

Another styling sketch of the five-door hatch - and in this case, a low, lean and big-wheeled look replaced the 'soft-roader' scheme. Real potential for style...

RDX60 People carrier: take a close look and you'll see six seats a-la Fiat Multipla....

RDX60 People carrier: take a close look and you'll see six seats a-la Fiat Multipla....

January 2002

TWR-era CATIA images of the RDX60 cars

Looking at these images, it becomes very apparent that later Photoshop images of the RDX60 cars never captured the rear SD1-type profile on the 3-door/5-door. This was a very well kept secret considering that these images represent the production intent of these cars. Many suppliers had already started to commence production tooling based on this data.

X60 Three-door hatchback

Three-door hatchabck in MG form would have looked very sporty indeed - and that dramatic roofline  would have allowed the car to fit in nicely with rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra Sports Hatch...

Three-door hatchabck in MG form would have looked very sporty indeed - and that dramatic roofline would have allowed the car to fit in nicely with rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra Sports Hatch...

RD61 Four-door saloon – components

Bootlid and rear door for the saloon version... conservative, but palatable to the Chinese.

Bootlid and rear door for the saloon version... conservative, but palatable to the Chinese.

March 2002: Tourer Concept Vehicle

Revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, the TCV seemed to impress the pundits…

Geneva 2002 saw the unveiling of the Rover TCV, a concept car that embodied much that was to be  found in the RDX60. Produced at the height of RDX60 activity, the TCV employed much of what was  hoped would find its way into the production Tourer, then slated for a 2005 launch. It wooed much of the  press, but its styling wasn't universally favoured. Much of that allegedly came down to Kevin Howe's  personal preference for the styling scheme over a number of more attractive proposals.

Geneva 2002 saw the unveiling of the Rover TCV, a concept car that embodied much that was to be found in the RDX60. Produced at the height of RDX60 activity, the TCV employed much of what was hoped would find its way into the production Tourer, then slated for a 2005 launch. It wooed much of the press, but its styling wasn't universally favoured. Much of that allegedly came down to Kevin Howe's personal preference for the styling scheme over a number of more attractive proposals.

August 2002

Wooing the Poles with the new British Midliners…

A change in direction: the earlier TWR sloping-roof scheme is dropped in favour of this TCV-like proposal.

During its chaotic first few years, MG Rover tried hard to obtain a second factory in Poland. The ex-Daewoo factory had fallen into disuse following that company’s bankruptcy, and MGR figured, it could make a cost-effective production facility for the new car, as well as the 75. John Towers told a government select committee in early 2004 that it intended to move into this area…

Earlier when the talks had been entered into, MG Rover executives showed the Polish delegation these full scale models of its upcoming range – the idea being that showing the Peter Stevens desiged range of cars would give the Poles a good idea of the company’s future plans. As it was, other bidders entered into the area, and the deal trailed off.

2003 saw the first sight of the MG version of the RD60. Dubbed the X60, the MG had a tougher stance than the Rover, and an attractive nose treatment, which successfully previewed the 2004 facelifts of the MG ZR, ZS and ZT...

2003 saw the first sight of the MG version of the RD60. Dubbed the X60, the MG had a tougher stance than the Rover, and an attractive nose treatment, which successfully previewed the 2004 facelifts of the MG ZR, ZS and ZT...

China in your hand: MG Rover had been courting China Brilliance for some time, and it was felt that a  saloon version of the RD60 would go down with its potential new paymasters. As it was, this  conventional scheme didn't set the world on fire, and following the project's freeze, the conservative look  was said to have been dropped.

China in your hand: MG Rover had been courting China Brilliance for some time, and it was felt that a saloon version of the RD60 would go down with its potential new paymasters. As it was, this conventional scheme didn't set the world on fire, and following the project's freeze, the conservative look was said to have been dropped.

It is possible that these full-size models were driving prototypes, because of the timescales involved, but as one insider relates, it would have not been ‘assembled using any production components: “Knowing that trim suppliers had not supplied finished or even semi-finished/prototype components for a physical build (D02 Build had been virtual – see above table), it would have been impossible for TWR to make a truly off-tool vehicle until the D1 Build phase. The best they could have acheived would have been driveable cars like the Rover 75 Coupe that looked like finished cars (e.g an existing platform/powertrain but with body panels made by rapid prototype techniques, interior/exterior trim components hand-machined/rapid-prototyped or adapted from the existing parts bin).’

November 2003

RDX60 mock-up shown to dealers

In order to keep the dealers on-side and to show them that the new car was progressing, MG Rover showed a selected few this model – which was driven into the Round House – as a preview of what was to come in the next couple of years…

This is clearly a slight evolution of the August 2002 rendering, shown to the Poles.    (picture: David Knowles)

This is clearly a slight evolution of the August 2002 rendering, shown to the Poles. (picture: David Knowles)

August 2004

Autocar RDX60 renderings

After a long period of silence, these dramatic drawings, published by Autocar, in August 2004 and based on intelligence from an inside source were revealed in the magazine in August 2004. The saloon concept had evolved greatly from the early scheme presented to the Poles in 2002, and the hatchback remained pretty much the same as the TWR design produced in Worthing, although it had a more upright rear end now…

The car above, pictured in Autocar magazine, is a very close representation of thet fully functioning  prototype (above), although the rear window arrangement was almost identical to the TCV's, the roofline  would have been more rakish and the rear door handles hidden...

The car above, pictured in Autocar magazine, is a very close representation of thet fully functioning prototype (above), although the rear window arrangement was almost identical to the TCV's, the roofline would have been more rakish and the rear door handles hidden...

October 2004

MG X60 proposal

Presented to SAIC executives as well as senior MGR staff, this MG X60 proposal looked very interesting. But it had not really evolved since the original MGR/TWR design dating from 2002. Set styling themes appeared to be the interesting rear window arrangement and heavy front end styling…

The model is see-through and is probably a glass fibre mock-up with fully designed interior.

February 2005

MGR’s stylists’ frustrations with RDX60 inactivity led to this ‘leaked’ image
being sent to the UK media.

It was supposed to be a wake-up call…


Easter 2005

A facelift was proposed in 2004,cand Peter Stevens’ team soon produced a number of interesting designs…

One of several new design proposals presented to SAIC in Easter 2005, and revealed by Autocar - the  styling had been updated to move with the times, but Chinese representatives were said to have been  unhappy with the existing styling proposals.

One of several new design proposals presented to SAIC in Easter 2005, and revealed by Autocar - the styling had been updated to move with the times, but Chinese representatives were said to have been unhappy with the existing styling proposals.

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

5 Comments on "Rover RDX60 : Gallery and timeline"

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  1. Mark Mastro Mark Mastro says:

    I always get annoyed when I see this page, such a shame.
    The 2001 Styling sketches in particular infuriate me, I can see Nissan Qashqai type cross-over in the first one (5-6 years before it happened!), the second looks like a beefy Seat Leon and the third a sleek and stylish MPV solution!
    Aaaargh!

  2. francis brett francis brett says:

    @1,i could not agree more.

  3. Hilton D says:

    yes… I quite like the green (blue?) RDX60 mock up and that red Autocar rendering. Would have been a desirable car in both Rover & MG versions.

  4. ben says:

    @1 you are definately right.

  5. Paul says:

    Hard to know what to make of this. From one picture to the next it seems to change into a completely different car! One things for sure though, with a 75 platform it would have been too big, heavy and expensive to be a Focus rival. Like just about every car BMC/BL/ARG/etc built from 1964 onwards (R8 excepted) it was oddly sized and didnt fit any of the acknowledged market segments. It would have bombed.

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