Tested : CityRover Mk2

The CityRover Mk2 is probably the world’s only new car have never been launched, nor have any new dealers sell it.

The original might have had its detractors, and for some typified all that was wrong with the Phoenix Four era of management, but it was a damned fine car, badly priced. The CityRover Mk2 was conceived to put right those wrongs, and ROGER BLAXALL drives one to decide whether MG Rover succeeded…


CityRover Mk2 at Motorpoint reviewed

CityRover lives! CityRover dies… CityRover lives again!

CityRover lives! CityRover dies… CityRover lives again!

WHATEVER happens next in this ongoing CityRover saga, sales of the Mk2 models at car supermarkets nationwide are doing very nicely, thank you.

Motorpoint, for instance, has sold around 700 models in the last few weeks – and for the car which was the straw that broke the camel’s back (indeed the last straw for many MG Rover dealers and buyers) – it’s a brief, if ironic, revival almost a year after MG Rover went under.

It’s not hard to see why. To paraphrase a famous Ford advertising strapline, ‘Ford has the knack of producing the right car at the right time’, CityRover was the wrong car at the wrong time at the wrong price – a fatal combination in anyone’s book.

Word was that MG R bought in the car at £1600 each – a potential profit of over £3000 per car was just too tempting to resist, but now Motorpoint’s marketing people believe they have found the cars’ natural price, hence the reason it’s selling so well.

Slowly, but surely though, the latest mark two model’s building a minority following with motorists who look beyond the badge for the cheapest new car they can afford. And from £3999 OTR, the latest City Rover Solos and Selects fit the bill.

Tweaks to the interior have made the CityRover Mk2 a more pleasant place to spend time.Tweaks to the interior have made the CityRover Mk2 a more pleasant place to spend time.

Tweaks to the interior have made the CityRover Mk2 a more pleasant place to spend time.

Thanks to Motorpoint’s enterprising PR lady Lucy Dornan, we visited the Burnley branch to try a ‘new’ – build date June 2005 – CityRover Mk2, which was due to be launched in the UK last May.

MG Rover had pencilled in 18 May for the car’s press debut. That was before black Thursday in early April – by then the first batch of cars had arrived at Portbury docks and were left standing there as MG Rover imploded. Despite that, some 300 of the Mk2 models crept into the UK – later shipments en route were returned to Pune, on the orders of worried Tata management. To cut a long story short, it’s these cars that have now resurfaced with Motorpoint, for instance, buying 900 models from Tata.

You can now have a top of the range Select, with Motorpoint’s three year bullet-proof warranty, for £5500 – and that’s with air con and alloys. Fifteen months ago, MG Rover dealers would have charged the best part of £8000! There’s a moral there, isn’t there?

The only catch – a warranty is £299 and a radio/CD costs £99… but the Mk2 boasts twin airbags, better instruments and other cosmetic touches including newly designed wheel trims.

The ‘new cars’ are selling to customers who had a Metro or Rover 100 and want a simple, uncomplicated car to replace it. ‘Simple’ and ‘uncomplicated’ just about sums up the CityRover and as salesman Roger Cooper showed me round the car in Motorpoint fashion (i.e. no hard sell), he tried to be as complimentary as possible about the newcomer which is a good grand and a half less than a Ka, to put prices into perspective.

A brief, fifteen minute drive showed what good value for money the Mk2 car is – the latest model retains the high seating position, hard ride and body roll but offers lots of space, excellent paint finish and should easily last five years or so when it’ll be worth around 2s 6d.

Both Roger and sales manager Jon Grace are committed MG R fans by the way – Roger has a Riley 1.5 he’s hoping to sell soon after buying a mint K plate Sierra Cosworth off eBay and Jon once ran a rare white, un-decalled Maestro turbo which in hindsight he wishes he’d kept. They’re sorry to see the end of MG Rover, but Motorpoint can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and there have been plenty of well priced MGs and Rovers to sell.

For more information about Motorpoint, visit the website.

New design wheeltrims...

New design wheeltrims...

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

7 Comments on "Tested : CityRover Mk2"

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  1. Phil Simpson says:

    Build date June 2005? That’s two months after MG Rover folded. Who completed the final assembly of these cars? Motorpoint service bays?

  2. francis brett franis brett says:

    I think a skeleton staff was retained at MGR while PWC sifted through the meagre pickings.

  3. James Riley james says:

    Had to laugh at the “dammed fine car” statement. I’m sure many owners have since used those words in a different order…. more probably in response to the wife forcing them to get rid… “fine, dammmed car!” What a total hash they made of this golden opportunity:
    1) They should NEVER have used the Rover badge, but called it Austin
    2) They should have sold it for £4500 and marketed it heavily as an out and out budget box

  4. bajan dave says:

    Classic case of cheapening a brand – I wonder how the Aston Martin Cygnet is faring?

  5. Jean says:

    The CityRover mk2 is a brilliant little runaround with loads of head and leg room, a decent interior (even if it isnt built brilliantly) and on the top of the range ‘Style’ a fabulous cream cloth seat trim! If MG Rover had have sold these at £4000 to start with the CityRover might of had a better name and sold much better

  6. Steve says:

    Horrible, cheap and nasty, only really any good if bought new and cheap, broken and worthless second hand. Parts are rare and expensive, build is terrible, reliability is bad…

  7. Mike says:

    I’m always amazed by the number of people who knock or make reference to reliability with no experience of these cars. It’s now December 2014 and our 2006 mk2 has 125000km on it and has been faultless bar a clutch cable. No rust, nothing’s fallen off, never leg us down and the basic interior is hard wearing and exactly what our young family needs. We live in Ireland and it’s one of only 2 city rovers I have seen here.

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