By 5 September 2011 92 Comments Read More →

Essay : MG Rover in 2011

Although MG Rover’s market share was contracting rapidly by the time of the company’s death in 2005, it’s fair to say that there was still a loyal band of buyers ready to part with their cash…

But with MG Rover now long gone, what are the British made cars that would fit the bill for today’s flag-waving buyers from today’s busy marketplace?


Then and now

Many Rover and MG customers will tell you that patriotism wasn’t the prime motivator in their purchasing choices. But it must have been one factor – alongside model specification and trim, overall styling, and dealer location and friendliness. But as the original MGs and Rovers are now well and truly into their middle-age, and many of those people who bought new examples are in the market for a replacement.

It’s interesting to see that there’s still a good number of British-made alternatives – as long as you don’t look at the obvious manufacturers. The small and medium sector is full of British-built tin although not all of it could be considered a replacement for anything in the old MG Rover car park. One only needs to see the brilliant Nissan Qashqai and Marmite Joke to see what we’re getting at.

The biggest loss here seems to be the death of the Jaguar X-TYPE, which for many ex-Rover 75 owners, seemed to be the ideal and obvious replacement. Now it’s gone, the waters are muddied somewhat… Jaguar really does need an X-TYPE replacement, and if the marque won’t stretch downmarket that far comfortably, may we suggest dusting off the Rover marque? Just a thought.

2005 – Rover 25/MG ZR | 2011 – MINI

In 2005, the Rover 25 was a bit on the tired side. But despite its 10 year old styling, the 25 and its more sporting ZR cousin still had a lot going for them. They were inexpensive, roomy, and cheap to buy. And in MG ZR guise at least, had oodles of kerbside appeal. In 2011, the British built alternatives are a little bit thin on the ground.

In fact, there aren’t any direct replacements – and with UK production of the MG3 still very much in discussion, we still don’t know if there will be. The MINI range is the nearest thing to a new MG ZR, and fails to tick the box on the matter of price and interior room. But makes up a little for being a bit on the cool side.

It’s a step up from the 25 and ZR, and yet in many ways the MINI is not the car to fill the older car’s boots. Let’s see how the MG3 pans out – although we suspect that might be more of a CityRover replacement.

2005 – Rover 45/MG ZS | 2011 – Vauxhall Astra

For the middle market, you’d think that the obvious choice would be the MG6, but as it’s larger and less overtly sporty than the ZS, we’ll leave that one out. Besides, it doesn’t look like any ZS owner has traded their car for a new 6 – but please tell us if you have. The Swindon-built Honda Civic also has distant links, but somehow the Starship Enterprise interior and Joe 90 styling don’t really push the same buttons as the sedate and pedestrian 45…

So, we’re going to plump for the Ellesmere Port-built Vauxhall Astra. It might not be the most exciting looking car, and doesn’t really appeal to aspirational buyers, but under the plain Jane suit lurks a rather good vehicle. Its dynamics are spot on, and the interior is roomy – and if you buy one, you can be happy in the knowledge that your Astra was built in the UK, and helping keep a nominally British company (with plenty of British heritage) stay in business.

Trading your 45 or ZS for an Astra will certainly feel like an upgrade, but would your Griffin-badged car feel special enough? Or cosset enough?

2005 – Rover 75/MG ZT | 2011 – Toyota Avensis

The introduction makes it clear – the Jaguar X-TYPE would have been a perfect replacement for a Rover 75, but as it’s so longer in production, and as the XF starts at £30,000, we’ll have to look further afield. And as for British-built mid-liners, that leads us to the Burnaston-built Toyota Avensis. It might not be the most obvious choice for a discerning private buyer, and there’s not much Britishness to be had, but the Avensis – like your Rover 75 is a great ground-coverer and boasts impeccable build quality.

It’s also well-built and has a roomy interior… but may lack that indefinable ‘something’ that marked out the Rover as something a little bit special – and for many, still does.

Conclusions

Hmm… Rovers and MGs really were a little bit individual. And if many of these cars are now looked down upon by the great unwashed, but they kept their owners and admirers happy. And for many, there’s still a big hole in their garage created in April 2005 with the death of MG Rover. To get something really satisfying that fills the hole, you might have to look abroad – a subject for another essay in the future.

If you’re an ex-MG Rover customer, where have you taken your custom since?

Posted in: Essays
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.

92 Comments on "Essay : MG Rover in 2011"

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  1. Maffc says:

    I buy Fiat nowadays, Currently own a Punto Evo 1.4 multi-air, very economical and looks nice, even if it’s performance is somewhat staid. A car for the current financial crisis 😉
    I’ve had a few fiats and i know they’re supposed to have a reliability issues but I’ve had no more or less bother with them than the Metro’s and Skoda’s I’ve also owned.

  2. Ken Strachan says:

    The Astra – sorry. I hired one, hated the interior and electric handbrake. It wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, and only did 36mpg on the motorway. So it was no more economical with a 16-valve engine than the ’98 Astra I used to own, with only 8 valves. How about a Nissan Note? Even with drilled aluminium pedals, it has something of a National Trust air about it…

  3. Bob says:

    Traded up to a mini clubman when my poor 25 lost its head for the 3rd time (using the new type gasket). True it cost a little more, and not quite as roomy, it was amazing what you could pack into a 25, but boy is it fun, and it really does 65 mpg on a long run.

  4. James says:

    I’d say that most customers now own Kia’s or Hyundai’s since MG Rover collapsed. Otherwise, the Fabia is the new 25 and the Octavia the 45. My ZT-T’s last owner traded it for a cee’d wagon. If you don’t like MGR being compared to the ‘downmarket’ brands, then I always considered the Saab 9-3 a close 75 rival.

  5. Peter Harris says:

    Replaced my MGZT 2.5 (which I adored) with a Jaguar S-Type 2.7 at the height of the credit crunch. 16 months old and I paid half the RRP – for an immaculate one owner 17000 mile car. That level of depreciation was very much like buying an MG or Rover !!

    The servicing is damn expensive but driving it still feels like an event, just like the MG did. It is just not necessary to drive bland cars…

  6. Stefan Veld says:

    Back in 2008 I bought my self a Rover Streetwise, trophy Yellow. When it was introduced I couldn’t afford one new( I don’t lend money from banks for any car..) so I had to wait a few years.
    You realy drive something special en the car gets lots af attention. It is now over 7 years old, and It’s been converted to LPG gas since I realy got sick of fuel prices in Holland en didn’t want to part with my Streetwise. The engine started to use some coolant after 110000 kms so after having driven over 15000 km with a monthly coolant top-up we’ve also fitted the MLS gasket kit to the engine( 1.4 16V) which cured the water consumption. It’s performed perfectly since for over 20000 kms on LPG gas.
    I hope to keep for some more years. 8 years is’nt really old, My maxi is 32 years and the mini 40 😀

  7. Adrian says:

    My uncle owned a succession of Rovers (a green 800 followed by a metallic bronze 600) and when the 600 finally gave up the ghost bought a Ford Focus Zetec. Not brilliant fuel economy by a roomy and practical interior.

  8. alexscott says:

    The rover 827 and the 75 were great cars in my oppinion. I still think and agree with above, that there is a gap in the market. if there were a 4-5 door rover or jaguar on the market which was only 4.7 metres long, was reasonably luxurious (and not over the top) handled well and went well and had Jaguars 2.2 turbo diesel engine, it would sell well. And another point worth making whichIm sure ive made before. we recently replaced our classic mini with something marginall more modern. My pick out of these would have been the 5 door rover 216 (1998) except that it had been sold. it had 5 diagonal seat belts, went reeally well, was nice and quite inside and was comfortable. we also drover a 2007 fiesta (cheap and too noisey inside) a BMw mini (only had 4 seatbelts) and the BMW 318 compact. we bought the 318 (yes I feel guitly but its not built any better than a Rover but the engine might be more reliable than the K sengine perhaps. but our pick at the time would have been the Rover 216 1998, 5 door, its a really nice car. I think perhaps rover were too occupied with Sales numbers when perhaps they shold have focused on qulaity and their market placing, but not sales numbers. alex

  9. David 3500 says:

    I still drive an MG ZR turbo-diesel that was registered in late 2006 and has covered just 16,000 miles. I still love it, have had experienced no reliabiity problems and it attracts plenty of genuine interest when attending classic car events.

    I still miss MG Rover Group, especially the Rover marque and models like the 75 and funky Streetwise. Admittedly none of the alternative cars you have mentioned actually appeal to me (although the shape of the Astra’s headlamps is not that dissimiliar to those on the facelifted ZR), so I will probably always stick with MG Rover Group vehicles for as long as I can find nice examples and parts availability.

    That said, if Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)would consider bringing back the Rover name on a range of high quality, stylish and aspirational models positioned from the medium market upwards, I would definitely consider buying a Rover.

    However, JLR can’t make the assumption of simply sticking the badge to what is ‘best for the company’ rather than what is ultimately ‘best for the Rover marque’ In other words, no CityRover or Metro replacement models please, even though the latter sold in healthy numbers. This is not a natural market sector in which to re-establish the kudos of the Rover name.

  10. Leslie says:

    Went from Rover 75 to Land Rover Freelander

  11. James Riley James says:

    I think people too easily forget that Rover’s halcyon days were the late 80’s/early 90’s which is when the brand was producing cars for family consumption with the Metro, R8 range and 600/800, but it was the mainstream vehicles that made Rover finally turn in a profit. I do not accept that argument that the “Rover” brand needs to be rightly treated to some kind of luxury status which is never really had since the 60’s. It could be much better utilised and exposed by using it as a more mainstream brand for JLR instead of allowing TATA to infiltrate the UK market which I think would cause more damage to JLR in the long run as a lot of people conveniently overlook the link.

  12. Graham says:

    Just to buck the trend, I’ve returned this week after a gap of five years to my 75 Tourer, bought new in 2001. It has covered well over 120,000 miles and still looks and drives pretty much like new. Looking out over the office car park which has 300 numbered spaces it’s the only MG Rover product there.

    At a quick glance, I’d say BMW (MINI and BMW per se) VW and GM are the possible “winners” in the unscientific car park sample. Very few Hyundais or Kias etc.

    I’ll replace (but keep) the 75 with either an Alfa or Citroen C5 when my eligibility for a company car kicks in next February.

  13. Richard says:

    Astra not exciting to look at? I would say its styling is its biggest plus point. It’s mechanically rather conservative cf. the Focus and the Golf, but the styling is pretty adventurous. The new 3 door is pretty gorgeous, although not British made.

  14. Mike Bushell says:

    I bought my ZT-T and 75 Contemporary SE because I liked the cars first and because they were British second. I wish I’d bought the ZT-T as an auto so I wouldn’t have had to buy the 75. However the clutch was so heavy and despite fiddling with by agents, I couldn’t stand the pain in my left ankle (20+ years of driving around the Black Country’s traffic jams!). When I bought the 75, the X-type was not available as a diesel auto.

    When the balloon went up and I got out of MG Rover I went for a Passat 2.0 TDI DSG estate. Gearbox was great as was the electronic handbrake (sorry if other people don’t like them) but to be honest looking back, it wasn’t that well made and had an appetite for oil. I decided I needed a smaller estate and avoided the Golf as the Mk6 version does not have the improvements seen on the hatch and the price was a premium for something made in Mexico so I bougth a Volvo V50 diesel powershift. Ironically it was bought from the premises of the MG Rover dealer I bought my ZT-T and 75 from.

    As far as British cars I would look at to meet my needs, I like the Astra estate (very well designed, but I’m not sure about the diesel auto) and the Nissan Qashqai. I hired the latter on holiday last year. Very comfortable, but gutless in 1.6 petrol form. Unfortunatley the diesel auto is only available in 4×4 and I don’t need the complexity and consumption. Very good car though.

  15. David 3500 says:

    James – if you treat Rover as having a more mainstream approach, you will struggle to work it whereby it can reinforce the aspirational status it so desperately needs, as well as undo the negative perceptions of its last ten years. I read a lot of comments from ‘enthusiasts’ wanting to see the Rover name return, although it always raises the same question – do they want it to return as simply a convenient British marque to help sell a range of mainstream products? Or do they want the name to return on products that are ultimately appropriate for the brand and help raise its perception and level of desirability?

    Most times it is the former, which suggest that they see Rover as simply a surrogate alternative brand to other mainstream brands that fell by the wayside in the 1980s such as Austin and Morris. Such an approach would also do little to address the negative shortcomings of the brand in its latter years.

    With no current designs to utilise or licensing agreements to be contrained by, the Rover marque has an ideal opportunity to produce the type of cars that people actually want to buy, thus re-establishing its luxury appeal that it gradually lost from the mid 1990s. Small superminis is not what Rover should be about.

  16. JonBoy says:

    i went from an MG ZS to a Jag, and now on to a TOTR Vauxhall Meriva Auto

  17. We have been long time admirers of the Rover 75 and MG ZT range, especially the tourers and have always tried to buy British Built were possible.

    This year after all driving Fords (myself a focus, mother a Fiesta, and Father a Mondeo) we accidentally moved over to Rover.

    It started with my Father wanting an automatic diesel estate. The only decent motor with some soul in his pricerange was a ZT-T. He got it and I loved it. I wanted one myself but was advised to keep the focus I had owned for 8 years since new. Then the diesel pump went west, and I decided that i too needed a Rover. I bought a 75 tourer diesel. A lovely car that hasn’t been without it’s problems but still manages to feel more special than the ford ever did.

    I completed the trio by purchasing a 2004 (last of the pre-facelift) 25 1.6 ixl 5 door in silver. It had only one owner and 13000 miles!!! A new car!

    My mum, my dad and I all love our Rovers, and the Neighbours have been so impressed that the one next door is buying an ’04 MGTF today!

    Great cars. Just a pity they are gone.

  18. yereverluvinunclebert says:

    A Bristol Fighter is the only car that will do it.

  19. Will M says:

    From ex-Rover owners I know, speculation and wild stereotyping, I suggest the following. A mix of British and non-British products.

    Rover 100/200/25 – Hyundai i10/i20, Kia Picanto, Nissan Note
    MG ZR – Skoda Fabia VRS
    Rover 400/45 – Nissan Qashqow
    MG ZS – Seat Leon FR / Vauxhall Astra VXR
    Rover 600/75/800 – BMW 316i
    MG ZT – Chrysler 300

  20. Richard says:

    Let’s start a campaign for JLR to bring back Rover. Although I think there is a proposed X-Type replacement hovering somewhere in the background I still think there’s a market for a proper Rover, not something dripping in chrome and burr walnut like the 75 but a car that takes traditional Rover values (good engineering, fast cars) and wraps them up in a contemporary design suitable for the 21st century. It could be aimed at Volvo and Audi.
    Of the ‘replacement’ cars mentioned above, a new Astra would be a big improvement for any 45 owner and the Avensis, whilst looking a little awkward, is a fine car and built to last too. Someone mentioned Kia too and having driven a couple in the last few months I can see why it’s the fastest growing brand in Europe. They may be considered a budget brand but clearly they haven’t been told that. Their cars are superbly built and good to drive. If people drove the cars rather than the badge, Kia would be a major player in the UK.

  21. marinast says:

    Interesting comparison with the X Type and the 75.
    While the X Type was a smaller car it must have stolen potential sales from MGR as build quality on the X Type was much better than on any post Project Drive 75.
    However all was not lost for MGR, the lack of an auto on the early X Type diesels would have swayed buyers to the 75, the 75 estate had a larger load area and the MG versions can handle just as good as the X Type. On the flip side the 3 litre X Type almost as quick as the V8 75 with better fuel consumption, four wheel drive and a range of tough engines to rival any American brute MGR used.

  22. Dennis says:

    Let’s just face facts we’re never going to see the Rover name on a new car ever again. Much like Austin, Morris, Riley, Daimler etc before it, it’s just not going to happen.

    Everyone reads too much into Ford taking their option to buy the Rover brand. The only reason they bought it was to stop anyone else building cars that might be associated with their Land-Rover brand. Part of the agreement between BMW who retained ownership of the Rover brand (they just licensed it to MGR, after the breakup of Rover Group) was that no one would be allowed to build 4wd vehicles with the Rover brand. This wouldn’t have stopped someone from building a 2wd Rover that looked like a 4wd. ie. a Cross over like the Qashqui or Honda CRV. We now see a Range Rover with 2wd, Ford (and subsequently Tata) wouldn’t want anyone making a direct competitor carrying a Rover, Field Rover, Terrain Rover, Dune Rover or any other kind of Rover Badge. Although i think perhaps Nasa might already have taken Lunar -Rover.

    It’s just the same as MI6 going around buying up exocet missiles in 1982, they didn’t need them and were never going to use them, it was just to stop the Agentinians from using them!

  23. Adam says:

    I donated my “52” plate Rover 25 to a motoring museum 2 years ago. Ok, not strictly vintage yet, but I reckon it will be a car people look back on for one reason or another. Besides, it had a certai sentimental value that made me hesitant just to trade it in & hope it wouldn’t find it’s way to some boy racer or anyone else that would abuse it. It was well looked after & the best car I can honestly say I’ve owned. It had character & very pleasing to drive. The replacement? I considered the Honda Civic, but out of my budget. I plumped for a Ford Focus. Partly for the reassurance it is unlikely Ford will go the same way!! It doesn’t give me the nice warm glow inside though…..

  24. daveyp says:

    Toyota Avensis !!! That’s one seriously mis-shappen vehicle

  25. Hilton Davis says:

    I owned 3 MG Rovers which I really liked and changed to a Ford Focus in 2008 because of the high depreciation on the last MG ZS. My main reason to buy Ford was the Ford Direct used warranty given. I’m surprised that a VW Golf is not suggested as a ZS alternative. I’ve always fancied a Golf but was put off by earlier “spartan” trim models. Things are better now on them though… perhaps next time?

  26. Mikey C says:

    Would the Nissan Juke be a good British made (and styled) 25/ZR replacement? Or if you wanted something more dull, the Honda Jazz (made in Swindon)

    The Toyota Auris has the right amount of dullness to appeal to 45 owners too…

  27. Richard Langdon says:

    After owning three Rovers (R8 214 SL, HHR 416, and 45 iXL, when the time came to change I purchased a Kia Cee’d. I thought long and hard, mainly I think about the image of the Kia badge over something more upmarket, but I wanted to stay with the dealer whom I had been with for many years, and had a very good relationship with, and they had taken a Kia franchise on the demise of Rover. I would like to say that I have no regrets whatsoever, it’s a very fine motor-car.

  28. Paul says:

    I’m struggling to see how Tata is hurting JLR James. The company has never been so strong. 2010 was a record year for profitability and that was before the 4 cylinder XF and the Evoque. Both cars that will massively boost volumes. Factor in the huge investment Tata is putting in, including a new Engine plant and a huge recruitment drive for Engineers and its hard to see where your coming from. Tata are acting as investors in JLR rather than owners and having no impact on the cars design or heritage.

  29. Darren says:

    Interesting because I still own my ZS and a new Astra !
    Both cars are petrol and have engines putting out 117 and 115 hp respectively- so should be comparable.

    The new Astra is not the all rounder suggested in this article. I would describe it as a car ‘good in parts’.
    It has excellent ride quality, decent handling, and is refined and quiet- but it is no Rover!
    The bad points far outweigh the good, the 1.6 petrol engine in my example is dull and lack luster never showing any enthusiasm for the job- but is reasonably economical returning 42.7MPG. The gear box is notchy, and has too higher gearing, the combination of a weak low-torque engine and awkward gearbox make the car boring and tiresome to drive on twisty B roads in undulating terrain.
    But it doesn’t stop there for the steering feels dead, the boot is too small and the massive front pillars create dangerous blind spots.

    In complete contrast- the dated ZS is a delight to drive, and I would say beats the Astra in all areas except, ride quality and road noise, and MPG.

    Incidentally my father recently replaced his Rover 400 with a Volvo C30, admittedly not British, but is proving to be an interesting replacement.
    I also know of a 75 owner who has gone down the Volvo route.
    Rover’s were a notch above the likes of Ford, Vauxhall, etc, so Volvo is an on-par alternative.

  30. Benny Ben Adams says:

    I’m sorry but I cannot accept the Mini as a 25/ZR replacement. I’ve owned a 25 and a ZR and at no time did I ever consider replacing either with a Mini.

    Mini Standard-3 door only and too small on the inside

    Mini Clubman-rear door on the wrong side for this country.

    Mini Countryman-Surely thats a 75 rival?!

    As for the Astra, the previous gen was very very good, not driven the new one yet but in places it does look like it could be Vauxhall’s HH-R.

    Nissan Note is a very credible car but like others have said there is no ‘warm glow’.

  31. Peter Harris says:

    What’s with you lot and all these boring cars? Let’s jazz it up a bit !!!!!

  32. John says:

    I sold a MG ZT 260 SE for a Vauxhall Vectra SRi 150 Diesel.

  33. Hilton Davis says:

    OK I’ve twigged – the Focus and Golf are not British built, so that’s why only the Astra is suggested as an alternative to the R45 & ZS!

  34. James Riley James says:

    @Paul – I didn’t say TATA was hurting JLR, far from it, I recognise as anyone should how great they have been as custodians of JLR recently and their investment and backing has clearly been the catalyst to continue Ford’s recent efforts in turning the company around. However, as a brand on a car, TATA, I believe would hurt JLR if it was sold in this country. TATA would be a new entrant (forget the 3 or 4 Safari’s they have sold in recent years) to the market and no doubt perceived as a cheap indian marque for many years (let’s not forget that the main criticism of the CityRover was not that it was a Rover but that it was a very poorly made TATA). I believe a side effect of TATA appearing in the public consciousness would be to highlight that JLR is no longer as British as it seems (enthusiasts may no all the in’s and out’s of it all, but the public at large, I suspect, do not) and it might just hurt it’s growing image of quality and prestige to be associated so publicly with a newcomer that shares it’s name with a that which appears on boxes of Tea Bags. I am sure in many years TATA could be the new KIA/Hyundai but that will take many years. My argument for using Rover for any UK/European TATA cars would be because they could cash in on what is undoubtedly left of the Rover image (still regarded quite well despite what people think and certainly more regarded as a car badge than TATA will be for many many years). I don’t believe a Rover car would harm JLR’s image, the JLR connection would only help strengthen Rover and would negate the need to move the Jaguar badge into more mainstream territories such as the small/medium segments. It’s a sad fact of life that however good to JLR TATA have been, they do not have any kind of image in the car market, the need to recognise that and plan their model/marque strategy accordingly for the good of the strong brands they have rather than be fuelled by ego.

  35. marinast says:

    While I can just about see a time where the Rover name might see a come back in markets outside the EU, Tata and JLR are much better off inventing a whole new brand for any small/cheap cars sold here and in Europe/USA.

  36. WarrenL says:

    I have always loved the 75 for itself. It seemed a little special from Day One. Would I replace a 75 with a Camry? The thought is sacrilegious, all practical considerations aside. Goodness knows, really. I like the look of the MG6 and I wish it well, but I couldn’t imagine it replacing a 75 in my garage. Not until it gets a V6, at least.

    I’ll go with the fantasy of JLR dusting off the Rover brand and applying it to a well-executed X-Type replacement that captures the Rover essence in a similar way to how the 75 managed it. That’ll do me. I’d be happy to have a JL-Rover sit alongside my beloved P6B.

  37. WarrenL says:

    Note to self: Europeans buy the Avensis, not the Camry.

  38. Adrian says:

    Those who need a ‘warm glow’ with their non Rover car should ensure that they buy a car with heated seats. (Sorry!)

  39. KenS Ken Strachan says:

    How about bringing back Wolseley?
    No-one will confuse it with a builder’s merchant!

  40. PDK says:

    If they brought back Wolseley they would have to create a whole new brand image for it, as I doubt many people would remember them. And they would just HAVE to bring back the illuminated badge! Although I suspect the ‘elf and safety brigade would soon kill that off…..

  41. Will M says:

    PDK

    “If they brought back Wolseley they would have to create a whole new brand image for it, as I doubt many people would remember them. And they would just HAVE to bring back the illuminated badge! Although I suspect the ‘elf and safety brigade would soon kill that off…..”

    Would that not be the Hornet and Safety brigade… 😉

    Maybe B*W can rename their horrible little 1 series / Mini saloons as Riley Elfs?

  42. Richard says:

    Should Rover ever be revived by JLR under TATA’s ownership, it should surely be as a premium marque aimed at Volvo in particular. Volvo have taken the good engineering, superb safety etc. that is the hallmark of their brand and developed excellent new cars that define what a modern Volvo is. This is precisely what Rover failed to do but JLR should do if they ever get round to relaunching the Viking ship.

  43. dolomitefan says:

    There’s no reason for JLR to bring back Rover. The name is tainted too much plus with everyone wanting to go upmarket then Rover would seem a bit common. Rover’s in the 60’s were upmarket come the noughties though they were generally overpriced and dated so hardly premium.

    My thoughts are that City/25/45/75/ZR/ZS/ZT owners would buy the following:

    City Rover – Mobility scooter
    25 – Skoda Fabia, Kia Picanto, VW Polo, Honda Jazz
    45 – Toyota Auris Pipe and Slipper edition, Nissan Cashcow
    75 – Volvo S60/V70, Toyota Avensis, VW Passat, Skoda Superb

    ZR – Seat Ibiza as it’s available with low power engines
    ZS – Ford Focus Zetec
    ZT – Audi A4, Volvo S60, BMW 3 series

    Manufacturers obsession with going premium is getting a little tiresome. A decent spec Ford Focus is now £20k (list) and now Vauxhall want to go upmarket and bring Chevrolet in underneath. I consider neither a Ford or a Vauxhall a premium brand even though they both make well made and reliable cars. Fact is the badge doesn’t cut it in the car park next to the boss’s Merc and the Sales Directors BMW.

  44. Hilton Davis says:

    I agree list prices are too high for mid spec cars like Astra’s & Focus’s. I wouldn’t buy a “new” Focus/Astra at that price, but a one year old example at £10K is a better bet. Of course every car depreciates rapidly – best just to enjoy driving it while you can and dont think about the inevitable depreciation.

  45. David Dawson says:

    If the Rover brand were to make a comeback it should definitely aim to be a premium brand.

    I can’t belive comments like ‘ most Rover owners will now be driving a Kia or Hyundai’ –
    25’s and 45’s were finding a premium status difficult in the latter years but the 75 and MGF/TF remained special to the end (and to this day!). In 1989 the R8 was most certainly premium and the Rover marque was obviously premium in the earlier years.

    It seems to me that many drivers of 25’s , 45’s and 75’s have stuck with their cars long after the time they would have changed cars had Rover still been trading. These people will want something a bit special, a bit different. They will not easily settle for an efficient but bland car of some sort. Any Rover revival wants to be aimed at such people.

  46. David 3500 says:

    David Dawson – I couldn’t agree with you more!

  47. Ralph Ralph says:

    I want a Solihull designed and built P6 and SD1 replacements! Until then I’ll keep my 75 Tourer CDT. Should it get tired, I’ll invest to cheer it up a little, or buy a few of its older brothers (800 Coupe, Fastback…). The only alternative I might consider is a Volvo V70, although the interior lacks the warmth of the 75.

  48. KeithB says:

    Rover probably could be revived, especially given TATA’s “midas touch” which it seems to have at the moment. Remember that Skoda was revived from being a basket case and VW used to rely on a model from the 1940’s for its fortunes.

    I think the Rover brand could make it in China as most of the “baggage” the West associates with the marque would be unknown or of little consequence. The Chinese (and Japanese to some extent) “love” the Ye Olde Englande aspect of the UK, the kind of “leather on willow, cream teas & warm beer” marketing that would suit Rover down to a tee.
    Don’t believe me? Take a look at these housing developments in China then:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-400644/The-great-Chinese-fake-away.html

    Imagine a modern day P5B parked on those streets!!

  49. Ian Perry says:

    Dare I say it, but according to Auto Express’ new car calendar, by 2013, we’ll have the MG3, 5, SUV, MG-TF replacement and the MG7 – so isn’t that replacement enough for MGR fans? I’ve no intention of getting anything other than another 75 (currently a 54 plate Tourer) and, for now am trying not to think of anything else other than winning an MG!

  50. Timbo says:

    “There’s no reason for JLR to bring back Rover. The name is tainted too much plus with everyone wanting to go upmarket then Rover would seem a bit common.”

    Sorry, but wot a load of b******s!! Tainted and truly awful “common” brands like Skoda and SEAT can be relaunched, why can’t Rover with the right car and marketing?

    Even Vauxhall had an awful reputation by the early 70’s, look where they are now, the only “British” branded mass manufacturer.

    Recall the days of the Dagenham Dustbin, you wouldn’t think that now if you walked into a Ford showroom.

    Who thought Chrysler would reappear (yet again!)? I’ve just returned from working in the Sates and there are some really quite nice looking Chrysler tin being launched, albeit with Fiat input.

    It’s this kind of defeatist narrow minded guff that just invites failure. Brands can be relaunched. It happens all the time.

    A “can do” attitude is what’s required, and Rover “can do” a come back, just look at the support here for starters! Tata’s investment helped Jaguar to do it did they not? Once the new Jaguar range has been completed successfully, it’ll be time to put that same energy, experience and investment into Rover please!

  51. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    Well said, Timbo.

    When people say the Rover name is tainted, all they can point to is the K Series engine. Not the designs, build quality or anything else – just the bloody bloody engine.
    What about the diesels? V6’s? No, always the K series…

    Same engine as the Lotus Elise & Freelander, but they don’t say those brands are tainted.

    As you say, it is no wonder this country is down in the dumps with the negative, defeatist attitudes that show themselves at any sort of suggestion of a revival

  52. Dennis says:

    Of course JLR ‘could’ relaunch it, but why would they bother? I don’t think they have any intention to, simply because there is nothing to invest in, just a name. They still have loads of scope left for building Jaguars even Daimlers. Mercedes produce a full range of cars with the MB brand, there is no reason why Jaguar can’t do the same, there is simply no reason to brand them Rovers. Go and grab a 20 year old in the high street and ask if they’d ever consider buying a Rover, you’ll just be told they’re old mans cars – I’d say that’s pretty tainted.
    Rover cars will never return, just like the many defunct automotive brands throughout the past century. live with it!

    Mars could relaunch the ‘Marathon’ Brand, but it’s just never going to happen.

    It’s not being defeatist, just a realist. As i said above JLR only bought the brand to protect the LR brand. That was the very reason Ford gave when they handed over the money.

  53. martin van de velde says:

    We still drive a rover 45 idti and a MG ZS 180 , both from 2005.
    and we dont want anything else before the MG6 is availeble here in holland.

  54. David Dawson says:

    Of course the Rover brand could be re-launched. All it would take is somebody high up in Tata having the desire and determination to do so. Or, another company wishing to establish a new brand and enter a different market segment could purchase the brand name and do similar.

    All this talk of the brand being tainted and effectively defunct is rubbish. Just look at what VW has achived with Skoda. When they purchased the brand all it had was the Estelle and the more mainstream but hardly highly regarded Falicia. Rover has far more heritage behind it and a recent history of truely special cars. Do, I need to say it – “75”!!

    I know retro is no longer fashionable. I am sure, however, there is room in the market for something a bit different ie a Rover brand sticking to a more traditional theme. There is a lot of loyal support out there – a lot of buyers who will be buying something else but would otherwise make a bee line for the Rover dealer – if there were one!

  55. JagBoy says:

    There is no way that Rover could be relaunched, no matter what we think or what we want, the history of Rover would instantly put people off, the initial sales of MG are NOT measuring up to the low initial yearly sales targets, you also have to remember, that Skoda and SEAT never stopped production, they evolved into what they are now.

    Rover would need a multi billion £ investment, just to reintroduce the brand would be too cost inefficient, and what would you produce, a high priced luxury saloon that competes with BMW and MERC, i know what i would buy now if that came to the market as an unknown product.

    Would it be premium medium cars, well, that never worked for |Rover after the R8, or low priced hatchbacks, maybe, but who would pay for a premium priced car with no history against a well specified and well built Hyundai or Kia.

    I agree Vauxhall will never be a premium brand, but it does not stop them from increasing quality and offering the cars at a great price, something that a Rovers return would not be able to sustain, as production numbers would not make it viable,

  56. Timbo says:

    “…….but why would they bother?”

    For a start, Jaguar don’t have a presence in the smaller lower priced range like VW/Audi, Toyota and Ford etc. The Jaguar brand would be unsuitable for this segment.

    Having said that BMW have a smaller model presence with the 1 series and sadly the MINI range. So does Mercedes Benz, even Audi is about to relaunch a smaller car. Having a limited range didn’t do Saab any good.

    If Tata want world domination, the Tata name won’t cut it in the brand conscious European market. In Europe the Rover brand is held in higher esteem than over here because of a few “Leyland bashers'” constant 3 decades old stereotypical prejudice, most of whom probably never drove a 75 anyway.

    It wasn’t the cars so much, or the brand, it was those at the top who let Rover down.

    Things move on. JLR paid something like £3 million for the name shortly after MGR’s demise, so it’s worth something, much more now as time has passed. View it as an investment, once matured nicely it will reappear on a mildly retro but graceful and desirable answer to the over rated, staid, dark and dull Golf and Passat guff that people on these shores desire so much.

    To say there’s “no way Rover could be relaunched” is just so defeatist, inaccurate, narrow minded tosh. How can anyone here say it will never happen unless they’re on the board of JLR and know some inside information? If a new Rover is’t for you, so what? Carry on buying your characterless bland Das Dull Auto tat. Doesn’t change the fact that anything can be accomplished with the right attitude, investment and imagination. History proves it it.

  57. JagBoy says:

    i stand by my statement, there is NO WAY ROVER WILL BE RELAUNCHED – JLR have no intention of spending billions on a defunct brand, when they have two of the best brands in the world, doing amazing business and with so many new cars being developed under those brands…

    The Rover name came with Land Rover at the time of the sale, and the reason was so that no one could use it to taint the Land/Range Rover brands…. this is well documented fact

  58. JagBoy says:

    And as an aside, every car i ever owned up to 2008 was an Austin, Mini, Rover or MG…. and i went to Jaguar afterwards. so kept British and will try my best to have at least one British built car in the household at all times.

  59. David 3500 says:

    JagBoy – Jaguar Land Rover has never officially said that they will never relaunch the Rover name – indeed this is something I have recently enquired about. With plans to launch forty new models over the next five years, this would potentially suggest that another brand may be used – whether it be Daimler or Rover – as there are clearly too many models for the current Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover brands, without diluting some of their ‘exclusivity’.

    Cast your mind back five years or so, and Jaguar was hardly a blue chip status brand. It is thanks to the final efforts of previous owner Ford and the ongoing commitment of Tata that there has been a turnaround in Jaguar’s fortunes and they are now achieving something they had not achieved since 1989 – profit. With these factors I would hardly put Jaguar on such a high pedestal over the Rover marque. Jaguar still has a lot to achieve over and above their recent success.

  60. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    “Rover would need a multi billion £ investment, just to reintroduce the brand would be too cost inefficient, and what would you produce, a high priced luxury saloon that competes with BMW and MERC, i know what i would buy now if that came to the market as an unknown product.”

    ……and therein lies the problem. Like other sheep, it wouldn’t matter if the Rover branded car beat the other two in every department, the flock would go along with the “German Is Best” mentality. It is all down to marketing, and BMW are the masters at that with MINI. They have got that car’s name inside everyone’s head and they are getting the public to pay through the nose for whatever model/derivative they put out. Mercedes are the same. I remember seeing a fairly unspectacular Merc estate in an Edinburgh used car showroom at £30,000 and thinking “what a waste of money”. But some people must be willing to pay that and something must be convincing them to part with their cash.

    If JLR thinks there is merit in putting a Rover badge on an appropriate model in their range, they will do it. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of the name, they will do it. Like MG, they may not sell them in big numbers in the UK but they will target their market appropriately.

    Some folk are so insular they still seem to think we’re the biggest car market in the world and it all revolves around the UK. Do you honestly think that MG Motor or JLR see the UK market as make-or-break for them? I don’t think SAIC will be losing much sleep over the lack of UK sales at the minute, they have a plan and will stick to it. They are making enough money elsewhere to let them do it. It will be exactly the same with JLR/TATA

  61. Hilton Davis says:

    I must have been really lucky with K series engines. Had no trouble with my Rover 414 or MG ZS 1.8 I did have to replace a leaking water pump & timing belt on my 45 1.6 but traded it for the ZS not long after. It will be interesting to see how the “N” series versions from MG last.

    Had MGRover still been with us I would have considered buying a third one. As for the new MG’s, I’ll let them get established with a decent dealer network first. Funny reading this article, that most of the so called “British built” cars have the names Toyota, Nissan, Honda. Doesn’t seem long ago that they spearheaded Japan’s onslaught of the UK market – OK, it was 40 years ago… Showing my age!

  62. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    Same here, Hilton. 7 K Series engined cars and only one gasket failure – self inflicted due to not checking the coolant levels often enough. Not a mistake that was made twice.

  63. David Dawson says:

    Back to the Skoda example. Ok, so Skoda was still manufacturing at the time VW took over but it was also the subject of many a joke. The average punter quicly forgot, however. In Europe as a whole, the name Skoda was turned from a small time player with minority appeal, to a well regarded, more mainstream brand with far greater sales.
    Although off the scene for six years, the name Rover is, in other respects, a stronger starting point than Skoda. Also, the ‘Land Rover’ – ‘Rover’ link would surely help greatly in a re-launch.
    In summary, if the will was there, a Rover re-launch could be achieved. (Flipping the coin, I still haven’t seen an MG6 on the road yet – worrying!)

  64. Will M says:

    @Paul T – I agree wholeheartedly. The sheep ‘German-is-best’ mentality that is stoked up by certain publications (including TG, AE and last night I got halfway through an episode of 5th gear before turning over realising it was basically an Audi-BMW-Merc advertorial).
    Their products are no more reliable than anyone elses (BMW head gaskets go, VW turbos go, there are a lot of rusty Mercs that aren’t that old!), the interiors are basic unless specced heavily with options and the suspension gets more and more uncomfortable with every generation.
    Merc doors don’t have the same bank vault clunk as a W123, Audis no longer have quirky features like telescopic struts, and BMWs are no longer exclusive.

    The Ultimate Marketing Machine.

    I could see JLR bringing Rover back for the same reason that Aston Martin are selling a Toyota. Manufacturers need smaller cars, they can’t rely on a range entirely made up of large saloons and SUVs.
    Rover would fit this niche, and for export markets such as the US could trade on the LR name.
    The likes of Peugeot are considering bringing back the Talbot name as a sub-brand, I wouldn’t rule anything out!

  65. Mike C says:

    I can’t help thinking, that a small sporty saloon would be better badged Triumph than Rover, but JLR don’t own that badge.

  66. David Dawson says:

    Mike C – Now there’s a thought. To people of my age (42!) and older who remember the name a new Triumph would appeal. However, the name Triumph will mean nothig to younger buyers. Is there any point in relaunching brands that are this old? If they mean little to much of the market why not just create a new brand name?
    Bearing the above in mind, Rover is a preferred brand to re-launch. It has only been off the new car market for six years. The number of used Rovers still on the road creates awareness of the brand over the whole market – older and younger people alike. Also, as I’ve said above ‘Land Rover’ creates an awareness of ‘Rover’.
    If Tata wanted to produce some smaller, quality cars with a unique feel wouldn’t Rover be ideal?

  67. KeithB says:

    David Dawson – don’t forget that a large number of car buyers are over 40 and with the disposable income to afford new cars. Brands like Triumph & Rover still carry positive connotations, my father is 73 and bought a ’52’ plate 75 for £1800! He loves it, the car he aspired to when bringing up three children and driving a variety of mainstream tin. Look at the resurgence of Triumph motorcycles bought by middle-aged men

  68. Will M says:

    In my late 20s, to me Triumph means the reliable Acclaim and innovation in small saloons, like the 16v Dolomite. I also have fond memories of my dads TR7.
    It would not put me off.
    The parent company of that particular brand might put me off though…

    If JLR brought out a Rover small saloon with a decent diesel engine, and comfortable (see Citroen / Peugeot) suspension, it would be worth considering.

  69. Richard says:

    “How about bringing back Wolseley?
    No-one will confuse it with a builder’s merchant!”

    If you read the company histories, they do actually stem from the same company!

    The first products were sheep-shears. It’s true!

    Always tried to drive British built cars. Replaced my 75 with an X-Type. If I comply with my wife’s wishes for an estate car, looks like I’m heading towards an Avensis :-O

  70. Malcolm E says:

    Unfortunately Rover is gone and that is just the way it is and I don’t think the marque will come back. However if JLR would bring out a true X-type replacement and later down the road how about an MG-F/TF size 2 seater.

  71. Will M says:

    A 2 seater Roadster? Do Tata own any sports car brands? No MG, no Austin-Healey.
    Roadsters likely to be branded as Jags.

  72. KeithB says:

    @Will M – Alvis saloon & roadster anyone? Uncorrupted by BL, classy English name, cost just as much to launch as Rover and could get away with “premium” pricing?

  73. David Dawson says:

    Keith B – True, a lot of car buyers are over 40.
    I too have quite recently bought a 75 and absolutely love the car. Mine is a 53 plate. It had done just under 50,000 miles when purchased 13 months ago and cost £2500.

  74. Tim TimH says:

    Yea I had to sell my Rover 75 saloon a few months ago. Had it a good few years. The shape and style are getting on now. So looked for something green and was able to carry me around in comfort, could handle the road well and felt good to drive. Bought a nice V6 Rover 75 tourer ConnSE.

    Point is the car new was top notch when it came to comfort, handling and ride so why look for something else. Its greener to keep existing cars running ;} I look at the new cars on the market and they don’t do anything for me. Even looked at the new but one jag but that only came up to t he Rover so was not worth suffering the deprecation.

    Will they bring back the Rover name? Don’t mind, as long as the new offering does not reduce the brand. I also have an MG and don’t mine the MG6 along side it as people know they are from two different era’s. Everyone knows the Rover MG is miles better any way. 😉

  75. cakewalker says:

    ‘most Rover owners will now be driving a Kia or Hyundai’ (from comment 45) – I think there’s some truth in that, but it’s to do with the dealers, not the cars. Kia and Hyundai have been strongly pushing into the UK over the period that MGR has dwindled and died. For the dealerships they’re ideal brands to get into selling – alternatives of selling some of the more established brands would have meant being pitted against some of the more established dealerships. I think it’s reasonable to say Hyundai is a step or two down the ladder from a 75, but they might be an easier sell to someone trading in a CityRover, 25 or 45. What you lose in interior ambience you gain in ‘perceived’ reliability (with the right sales patter). And I suspect lots of buyers are dealer-loyal as well as brand-loyal. Under the circumstances, for the many people who are only interested in new cars, the latter became impossible.

  76. Adam says:

    Re: the above comment from cakewalker.

    It’s true about Hyundai’s! We’re now driving about in a 2011 1.2 i20 – it’s replaced the ZR. An MG3 was/is a possible replacement but it’s taking too long to get here, if at all. There’s also a 2005 1.5 diesel Smart Forfour on our drive and to be honest, both cars are really good, especially the Smart.

  77. James Dawson says:

    Re my post on 5th September, I went to BCA Bedford yesterday and came away with a nice Saab 9-3 sportwagon. It goes nicely with the ZT-T already on my drive. And no, I wouldn’t dream of replacing the ZT with a KIA or Hyundai either but that’s the 75/ZT buyer to a tee, it was just a little bit special. A 25/45 buyer might not have the same view.

  78. JON says:

    YOUR RUNNING SCARED JAGBOY IN CASE ROVER RETURNS THE 75 WAS BETTER THAN THE X TYPE.SO MAKE A X TYPE REPLACEMENT A ROVER A EXCELLENT WAY TO START THE ROVER RETURN.

  79. Timbo says:

    Ha ha….well said Jon, and everyone else who would like to see the Rover’s Return!! Come on JLR, get on with it.

    Mind you I’ve got both a 75 estate and X Type estate on the drive, both good cars but with very different personalities. The Rover’s a better family car but the Jag’s better for chucking into corners when carrying the work gear up and down the country.

    Just got back from working in Germany: saw Rover’s including MG TF’s there but they seem to like Jags, saw quite a number. Me thinks they see B*W, Audi and VW guff as a bit ordinary, boring, perfunctory even- a lot of Merc taxis. It’s only here that they’re held in such high esteem- thanks Top German and Filth Gear for pandering to the stereotypes and marketing departments of the Eurowagens.

  80. Will M says:

    Having driven a Hyundai Getz, it is reminiscent of the Metro / 100, it is easy to see why some see it as a spiritual replacement.

    So, MGR could have entered into partnership with Hyundai, as per Honda?
    Both were Eastern manufactuers starting to turn out reliable cars, and wishing to create European-style vehicles.

    We have seen the ingenuity that Rover / MGR displayed in turning Hondas into Rovers and MGs (including all those body styles for the R8 and RWD V8 ZT for example) so the cars need not necessarily be those sold as Hyundais, but based on them.

    Sometime in the early 2000s this may have occured in an alternate timeline.

    So we would get a:
    – Citycar CityRover based on the Atoz
    – Small car 100/15 based on the Getz
    – Supermini 25 based on the Accent
    – Mid-Size 45 based on the Elantra
    – Medium-Size 65/75 based on the Sonata (imagine the 2001 roofline with a higher shoulderline and a Rover grille and it might just work)
    – Large 85/95 based on the (unsold in UK) Grandeur (or perhaps on the Dynasty / Centennial floorplan)
    – MG Coupe based on the Hyundai Coupe / Tiburon
    – Competitors in the MPV / SUV markets based on the Matrix, Trajet, Santa Fe, Tucson

  81. Richard says:

    It’s too easy to dismiss Hyundai and Kia, the latter of which is the fastest growing marque in Europe. The kind of comments one hears remind me of the things that were said about Japanese cars in the 70s and 80s and we all know what’s happened since then.

    Both Hyundai and Kia (whose design team was recruited from Audi) sold as value brands for a long time but now they are more mainstream and the quality of the cars is excellent. I drove Kia’s Mondeo competitor, the Optima, in the US a month ago. It looks good and it easily matches its rivals for build quality. The new Kia Rio looks very good too as does the Hyundai i40 Tourer, albeit in a Subaru sort of way. They are also backed up a very good dealer network and have the best warranties around, so I suspect their market share can only increase. Anybody trading in their old Rover for either a Hyundai or Kia will be happily surprised at the quality of the car.

    I agree that too many people mistakenly regard ‘German as best’. BMWs are just plain ugly and most Mercs (C Class excepted) look bloated. Jingoism aside, does anyone think a 5 series is more elegant than an XF? I was in a new E Class a couple of months ago and at no point did I feel I was riding in a so-called premium car. Yes it was well screwed together but the cabin looked very ordinary. VWs look dull to me and the new Passat is very bland indeed. If I was buying a VW Group product I’d choose from Audi, Skoda or Seat.

  82. KeithB says:

    Will M – Sorry to be pedantic but…… what did Honda contribute to the 75/MG ZT?

    “Both were Eastern manufactuers starting to turn out reliable cars,”

    ?? Honda, to the best of my knowledge, always produced reliable cars – they needed BL as a bridgehead into Europe, BL needed them for quality production methods. In the beginning it was a two way street, Honda for quality & production efficiency, BL for Western thinking & ingenuity.

  83. Will M says:

    Keith B – I reread the post and thought someone would pick up on that – Yes, 75 is not Honda.

    My point was that Rover group / MGR always had a knack for taking an existing product and reengineering it in interesting ways, so the example of the 75 they managed to fit a RWD drivetrain and a V8 engine, as well as a potential coupe prototype.
    Imagine what they could have done with some of the Hyundai platforms.

    Also, Honda are very reliable, I am more than happy with the bulletproof reliability of my Accord coupe.

    I guess I could’ve phrased it better, the point I was trying to make here was that before the BL engagement (Acclaim / 213), Honda were perhaps not taken seriously in the UK car market, in the same way as Hyundai / Kia were not until the last 5/10 years or so. (Could’ve been sooner if MGR had shown them the essence of a Western car – as you pointed out, they did successfully with Honda).

  84. KeithB says:

    Will M – Totally agree, as I said I was merely being a pedant 🙂

  85. David Dawson says:

    It’s late and I’m tired but I’ll try not to make any mistakes in this comment!!

    1. Yes, it was amazing what Rover, MGR could do with limited resources and a Honda base car.

    2. It was a two way street in the early years of the Honda/Rover relationship. However, once Honda had what they wanted (manufacturing capability in Europe, the ability to make a more Euro-friendly car) it became much more one way. Compare the R8 with the HHR – a 60:40, Honda:Rover joint venture compared to Rover ‘topping and tailing’ a pure Honda. I think Rover’s fortunes had started to decline in the latter days of Honda, before BMW took the helm.

  86. David 3500 says:

    @ David Dawson

    You are right in your comments about the Rover-Honda relationship. While the Rover 600 Series was undoubtedly a very good car, the influence of Rover’s designers in the project was actually very small. Look at the HHR 400 Series and Rover’s input became marginal. As a result, Rover Cars ended up with what was a very uninspiring design that offered little opportunity to improve in the short term based on this fact and the restrictions of the licensing agreement with Honda.

    The R8 really was the last success story to emerge from the collaborative relationship between the two companies.

    The reality is, as you say, Honda no longer needed Rover, although Rover still needed Honda because it could not afford to design all-new products on its own due to the needs of both Rover Cars and Land Rover. Rover Group also did not receive sufficient investment from its then owner, British Aerospace. Instead they had to make do with reheating older designs and being heavily restricted by licensing agreements.

    All very sad.

  87. Richard says:

    @David 3500

    I agree with you entirely about Rover Group not receiving sufficient investment from British Aerospace. When they bought Rover they talked endlessly about the synergy between the two companies and then did nothing. It was a great shame because it could have been a golden opportunity for Rover, properly financed, to bring a new range of models to market.

  88. David Dawson says:

    The frustration is intense!! There was so much opportunity and innovative thinking in design and engineering terms. All messed up by repeated mis-management.
    Thinking back to how I felt in the late eighties, early nineties when I could see a revival on the cards. Agh!!!!

    As I’ve said previously, I’m sure Rover could be re-launched as an extension of Land ROVER. There’s still a market for the Rover name out there of which I am just one example –

    Was listening to a girl at work today talking about her new, bought with finance, £12,000 Clio. Ok, it’s nice, but look at my, bought with cash, £2,500 Rover 75. There’s no comparison. Dull machine versus loveable car!!!!

  89. Isildore says:

    An Ian McCallum designed Rover with JLR quality and engineering? Oh yeah!

    I think McCallum is one of the industry’s best and up there with Gerry McGovern, Julian Thompson, Gordon Murray, Peter Schreyer & Peter Horbury (and the Italians – Guigaro, Bertone, Pininfarina).

    It would make more use of their proposed engine plant with Tata that their current models as its only doing 4 cylinder units…

    And I would certainly be in line to buy one!

  90. David Dawson says:

    Ok, so my argument, in comment 88 above, was to a large extent that of used versus new. However, I was trying to illustrate the point that ‘Rover’ still has a following. If managed in the correct fashion, a re-launch of the brand could see many drivers of old Rovers and people who have reluctantly bought somethingelse, flocking to their new Rover dealer.

  91. Simon R says:

    I bought a new Freelander in 99 just before BMW dumped Rover Group. It was a total load of crap, everything went wrong and cost a fortune, the dealers were a bunch of C*****.
    Then a used Rover 200 in 05 just as MGR went bust. Amazing car hardly anything went wrong and cost virtually nothing to maintain, plus mega cheap insurance. Gave that to my Nephew when I emigrated.
    In the US I have a Saab 93, relaibility a bit dodgy ($1200 to replace ac), guess what it looks like that company has gone bust!

  92. David Dawson says:

    Let’s go back to 1989 -1993. Rover was hardly in a sound financial position. But, things were on the up. After the bad old days of BL and the three M’s recovery plan not having worked too well it did look like we would have a smaller scale but successful quality manufacturer on our hands. For a brief time the whole range was relatively up to date and desirable. If you looked more closely, things were a bit shakey – 800 was starting to become long in the tooth with no replacement soon. Rover Metro, although surprisingly appealing had little long term future. The intended replacement for the mighty R8 was hardly progressive. However, for a brief moment the range had aspirational appeal. It was something a bit extra in the mass market. Surely there is still an opportunity for cars with this objective. Add a touch of traditional British appeal to further differentiate from the all too similar Hyundai’s and Kia’s. With the required desire and determination at a management level Rover could be re-launched. As I keep saying, the presence of Land ROVER will help.
    And MG? Still have not seen a 6 on the road. Pity the two brands are not owned by the same company. Then the 6, 3 and 5 could be Rovers and MG could stick to sporting rather than family cars.

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