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
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.
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.