Blog : JLR – Do you accept the Rover challenge?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Should JLR be looking at a car to brindge the gap between Jaguar and Land Rover?
Should JLR be looking at a car to bridge the gap between Jaguar and Land Rover?

A week, they say, is a long time in politics and, equally, seven years is an absolute age in the motor industry – that’s how long it’s been since we were able to buy a freshly-made new Rover from the local MGR dealer.

In the intervening years, something of a revolution happened at Jaguar Land Rover. Both companies’ ranges have been reinvented from the top-down, with both clearly showing that there’s substance behind the principle of ‘Cool Britannia’ (sorry about the tired cliché), and our cars can use their wood ‘n’ leather in a progressive and modernistic way. Additionally, in terms of body styling, the wonderful XF and Evoque prove we can still make great looking cars which are both obviously British, have heritage and look utterly modern.

We all know that JLR wants to build a sub-XF saloon/hatchback to compete in the 3-Series/A4/C-Class market and the current thinking is that it will wear a Jaguar badge. And why shouldn’t it? After all, the Mk1/Mk2 saloon was pitched right in the heart of that sector (before it was actually defined) and look how well that went on to do. We’ll perhaps brush over the X-TYPE, which was a fine car in its own right but lacked a certain sexiness that should be part and parcel of a Jaguar – and didn’t actually do anything the Rover 75/MG ZT couldn’t do.

So, whatever new ‘small’ car that JLR comes up with will no doubt be progressive, sexy and cool.

Well, that’s where Rover comes in. After the X-TYPE, there’s clearly some jitters over the prospect of a Jaguar that competes in that sector after a relatively short break. It could be a gamble for a maker that, by the end of next year, will be offering a top-down range (XF, XFW, XJ, XJL, XK, C-X16 and C-X75) that matches anything the Germans or Japanese can come up with. The old Pub landlord/Arthur Daley image should be completely washed away by then, thanks to the innovative product-led rebirth.

Instead of expanding Jaguar downwards, why not exploit Land and Range Rover’s current standing with a complementary two-wheel drive road car, cast in the mould of the Evoque? But perhaps a little lower and sportier, too? JLR certainly is in the position to build Rovers now – US customers call their Rangies and Evoques ‘Rovers’ anyway, so why not? Beyond that, there’s an established dealer network that would sell new Rovers and a sympa customer base. That’s the idea, anyway.

What about the new Rover, then? Think Evoque levels of cool, but lower and sleeker than the rival Germans – and standing apart visually. And although my personal bias is well known, the closest Rover ever came to that was the SD1. A shame it was launched in the midst of the firestorm that we now know as the 1970s and was built so badly that all of the goodwill that was built up following its triumphant 1976 launch, was lost forever by the end of 1978…

Imagine, instead, that the Rover SD1 had been built by a company that was both the darling of the media and highly rated by its customers, and was built to a quality more than acceptable by the standards of its day. The stylish hatchback blew the opposition out of the water, both in terms of styling and performance and, without the rest of the BL nonsense, it would have gone on to become one of the UK’s all-time greats. Instead, that is, of the flawed gem which we have today.

That scenario could well be where a new JLR-developed Rover could find itself in – how great would that be?

As for the naysayers who consider Rover a dead and tarnished marque, consider that the last Phoenix-managed car rolled out of Longbridge a long time ago and, like-it-or-not, it’s MG Motor UK that has inherited that emotional baggage now. A clean and fresh start under JLR for Rover could and – in my opinion – would work. There’s a growing groundswell of people out there looking for an alternative to the Germans, but one that by its very nature is as capable and cool as them.

And to me, a Gaydon-engineered, Solihull-built Rover, styled by someone of the calibre of Richard Woolley (who is still very much a big wheel at Jaguar Land Rover and is a great stylist who is far too underrated right now), is that car.

Come one JLR, make it happen! The time is most definitely right…

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up 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 Classics 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 unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

103 Comments

  1. The Rover name and trademark is owned by Tata Motors who of course own JLR. A passenger car from Gaydon Design and off the line at Castle Bromwich (or Halewood) would work just perfectly.

  2. Seeing the two together like that, the Evoque reminds me of a jacked up Sd1. Just look at the front of the two cars. Quire a few echoes.
    On another point Land Rover was born from Rover so only fitting that they should re-invent Rover. Be funny if it did happen and was built in the old SD1 factory (now Land Rover) where it was originally built.

  3. Tata/JLR own the Rover name.

    If the new small saloon/hatchback was a stepping stone for the XF and XJ, then logically it would be a Jaguar.

    If it was more of an even more road focused Evoque type car, the it would possibly make sense to use a variant on the Range Rover name, as the Range Rover brand says success and prestige, whereas Rover still brings up visions of Honda based hatchbacks.

  4. I’ve stated here before, that with the shift away from large saloons and hatches to SUVs, the true successor to the SD1 V8 is something like the RR Sport. V8 power, hatchback, sporty image, built in Solihull…

  5. Forget it. The reason the Rover name will never re-appear (in the UK at least) is the same reason Lancias are sold in the UK with a Chrysler badge. The greatest amount of heritage and excellence (of which Lancia has considerably more than Rover, and BMW and Audi for that matter) is no match for a tarnished reputation. The buying public is cynical and the Rover (and Lancia) name has no appeal whatsoever to new buyers who don’t remember the bad times, and negative appeal to the majority who do.

    To take another example (which was the subject of a recent trade story on these pages) – ask yourself why Daewoos are now called Chevrolet….

  6. Too soon. Rover to most people still means cheap wheels that will likely end in a cloud of steam, rightly or wrongly.

    It’s a damaged brand that JLR would have to be mental to consider using now.

  7. I don’t think that there is any intent to bring back any old marks from the BL days. I maybe wrong. It even bothers me that Daimler seems to have been quietly dropped. I’d love to see a super saloon with all the gadgets applied wearing a Daimler badge but you only have to look at Maybach and that Mercedes will discontinue that brand in a few years to understand why.

    JLR MUST make business-case decisions all the way now. It’s all very wonderful getting stary-eyed over “what-if”s and “they-should”s but first and foremost has to be a profitable business making reliable cars that people want.

    the company is, however, in better shape now than it’s arguably ever been and with that will come more diverse products. Just no X6 competitor please!

  8. Does everyone who says ‘no’ actually think that JLR would be stupid enough to NOT make sure that a new Rover would be well distanced from what went before???

    That’s what marketing is for, you know the thing that SAIC keep getting slagged off for and which, according to the experts, is the MAIN reason they are not selling many MGs??

    If JLR want to build and sell a car with a Rover badge on it, they will make sure it succeeds. As DeLA says in post 14 they will make business-case decisions and all the pitfalls would have been well thought through & tackled before they brought the car to market.

    To compare Rover to Daewoo is frankly stupid and pitiful.

  9. Can’t see the Rover name working in the UK anytime soon. Who owns the Alvis name? Rover bought hem in the 1960s, but do JLR have the rights to the name? Maybe that could work as a sub-Jag.

  10. It could work. My Rover 75 has been excellent with only one niggle – Wet ECU.

    One only has to look at what John Bloor has acheived with Triumph motorcycles. A new workforce and a state of the art factory well away from Meriden and Small Heath where Triumph and BSA ‘s were built, building modern reliable class leading products as well as drawing on past heritage for inspiration.
    I’d really like to buy a British built Rover again.

  11. Not a huge fan of SUVs, but the Evoque does look good in that colour.

    Always thought of the new XJ as a spiritual successor to the SD1 in terms of shape.

    Unfortunately most people I know think of Rovers as unreliable thanks to the K series coolant / head gasket defect (along with French cars, and my ZXs, Xantia and 406 had few problems compared to the suspension subframes, radiators and turbos of their VWs and BMWs…).

    I would count myself though as one of the ones seeking a nice non-German car in the next few years. Thats why I have mourned the passing of Saab and the S40.

  12. Couldn’t agree more Keith. Rover has now departed from the baggage that is Longbridge – and can be now part of one of the coolest car companies in the world.

    The best bits from Rover’s past can be used – style, robust built quality, and quite frankly, pedigree.

    Being sold alongside the Evoque would give any new ‘Rover’ the cache it’d need to succeed.

  13. This Rover “route” has taken a back seat on here in favour of the chinese”route” Nice to see thats been rectified.
    Have a Freelander 1 at home, chassis plates state, Rover Group.

  14. It’s an intriguing idea. As Jaguar has already admitted that any ‘small’ Jag will only compete with the upper end of the 3-series/A4 class, spinning a more affordable Rover version based on the same platform (but with obviously different styling) could bring decent economies of scale for JLR, as well as extra choice for the consumer. All achieved without dragging the Jaguar name too far downmarket.

    Do I think it will happen? Sadly not. But I’d love to be proved wrong.

  15. If they did do it, they wouldn’t care too much about what people in the UK thought about it. They’d do it if it made sense for US and China exports, and as Keith has pointed out, it seems it may well make sense in those markets.

  16. With the right product, the right quality, and the right company backing it, a damaged brand reputation can be turned around. Consider the case of Skoda.

  17. I would love to own a new Rover, as already noted on coments already made, as the brand name is held by Tata, remaking a mid range car at the old SD1 factory would be something so ponder, it be nice to see a new Rover along side with Evoque, Range Rover, Discovery Freelander etc, I think it be cool as as we all know was all part of the Rover Car Co. Regards Mark

  18. Why not build a Jaguar ‘3 series’ and a Rover with Evoque styling using largely the same components? Aim the Rover at people who want a Premium Quashqai type vehicle and the Jaguar at BMW’s 3 series

  19. If Rover has to re-appear, it could be a bit like Volvo. They haven’t got the same prestige as the Germans or Jag, but they look very good and perform about as well as the more expensive alternative.

    BTW Alvis is owned by BAE Systems, but not through Rover Group. United Scientific bought Alvis in ’75, and it in turn was bought by British Aerospace.

  20. Personally, I think that would be fantastic.
    The name Rover has been missing for far too long.
    JLR have done a tremendous job with both Jaguar & Range Rover brands, so why could’nt they do the same with Rover?
    Imagine it, a new & very modern Rover under the JLR brand, taking on BMW and beating them?
    How ironic.

  21. I posted much the same sort of thing on another forum but a fortnight-and-a-bit ago. Bringing Rover back makes sense to me. Here’s what I wrote on 28.2.2012:

    I agree with the original poster: I’d welcome Rover’s return. Successive management teams did their level-best to destroy the brand, but it did command some loyalty, and a not inconsiderable percentage of the UK market. OK, it was probably only about 3% at the end but, if you’re Tata that might be worth having. I’ve read that there is to be a new small, FWD Jaguar and I have my qualms about that. But if such a car has to go into production you wonder if a modern Rover could be spun off it.

    I’m just thinking here that Tata could learn from past mistakes, ditch the retro-styling that bedevilled the 75 and give us a modern, practical-sexy (think P6, SD1, or indeed, the Evoque) mid-range FWD car that re-establishes that strange blend of tradition and forward-thinking that was the hallmark of the best Rovers. You might argue that the brand is better left dead, but you can still make a case for it, I think, if you consider the potential for reducing JLR’s corporate emissions levels with such a car, and the fact that many of the world’s car markets were denied the drivel that so often wore the badge. The US, China, and India were spared the indignities of the SD3, Rover Metro (although that was a decent bit of bit back in the day), 600, CityRover and 75, and if you mention Rover to an American, Chinese, or Indian they’d more than likely associate it with desirable premium 4x4s. Of course, the 800 was sold as a Sterling in the US, but by now they’ll have forgotten about that…

    It’s said that you can never successfully resurrect a defunct brand, but Rover died but five years ago, any relaunch would almost certainly generate its own publicity in the UK at least (when MG was brought back from the dead with the F, the event was marked by an item on News At Ten), and if the car was as compelliing as the Evoque I’m certain that any past faux pas would be forgiven. In a country which is beginning to realise the importance of manufacturing once again bringing Rover would be priceless in PR terms. And if a new Rover shared its architecture with a baby Jag, the benefits to Jaguar, and to Tata through lower costs from greater economies of scale might be compelling.

  22. If Rover is to make a comeback, it should go back to what made the company successful, please no Rover badges on Metro sized cars again. Producing a large saloon/hatchback with an engine of at least two litres with enough opulent trim to announce the car is something more than a two litre Mondeo rival and with a refined powerplant and class leading performance and handling. Now that JLR are doing very well under Tata I’m sure the time is right to launch such a car. However, like Jaguar has very successfully done, the new Rover must shake the obsession with sixties retro and move on.

  23. I dunno… When I think Rover.. 75’s still spring to mind rather than JLR…

    Maybe this is the real reason BMW had a quick tidy up in the branding office… Keeping tabs on what they own so a swift deal could be drawn up on the Triumph badge..

  24. Tata need a smaller road car but branding it a Rover would be a mistake. The public will remember all those unreliable cars from the past especially those from the 90s and 00s that blew their head gaskets. The reputation of Rover is down there with the original Skoda and it would be a very brave company that resurrected it. Maybe the could try “Road Rover” or even just stick with Land Rover.

  25. I can see why your attracted to the idea, but it would make no sense at all for Jaguar Landrover. It would take a monumental marketing effort to re-establish the Rover brand in the minds of non-enthusiasts, who will be the people who would actually buy the car after all. Jaguar is well established and going in the right direction. There are huge gaps in its current range, including a C class/3 Series rival and the brand can easily be manipulated to cover this sector of the market. Its a no brainer.

  26. ‘Rover reborn… from the makers of Jaguar and Land Rover’ is a surprisingly powerful message.

    Remember those VW stickers they put in the back of Skodas? And Seats? That did the trick.

    I’m going to say that yes, I am a bit of an old romantic, but also know full well that there’s a lot of baggage with the name. But I suspect with a great marketing package and an even better car, Rover would carry off the quality image far better than many of us might suspect.

  27. I still love the Rover marque and I believe it still carries positive connotations outside of the UK. I fear it’s image has been too badly damaged to be revived in the UK though.

  28. In the UK it makes no sense at all, however in developing markets such as China, I can see JLR using Rover as a sub brand in conjunction with a local manufacturer. JLR could be the premium brand, the local manufacturer would be the entry brand, with Rover sitting between the 2.

    Its easy to forget the potential of developing markets like China and India, these markets alone are large enough to support whole brands. And JLR will want to maintain its premium status.

    So yes Rovers return makes sense..just not in the UK…YET!!

  29. I was discussing this a couple of nights ago on twitter. JLR need to lower they’re average CO2 figure to meet the EU target. A range of small cars, below Jaguar would help them meet it. Possibly hybrid or other low emission tech. Playing on Rover’s earlier tech achievements such as gas turbine etc.

  30. “‘Rover reborn… from the makers of Jaguar and Land Rover’ is a surprisingly powerful message.”

    No doubt,,Being in the US. If you think about it there is a
    Land Rover and Jaguar dealer network already in place and the
    above sentence it could work. Remember Lexus and Infinity. Upstarts out of thin air not sold in Toyota or Nissan dealers are doing quite well..

    Hopefully if they do produce them they will import them here.

  31. With the P6’s 50th launch anniversary around the corner as well as it being the first Car Of The Year I cannot think of a better time to relaunch the much loved brand. However, the car would have to be exceptional with first rate dealer support. It can be achieved, please Tata!

  32. Rover 75 “the poor mans jag” Now if jag have the punch to make there own poor mans jag using the rover badge.
    Also to be fair if JLR rolled out some rovers from the factories MG motor UK may has trouble because as a re-launched “tarnished” brand having backing from JLR and TATA carries allot more weight than a Chinese company that bought MGR left overs to become a good car makers , also new rovers wouldn’t have a k-series in disguise under the bonet (I like k-series but they have a bad name).

  33. I would think it would make sense for a Rovers Return, (another pun) to cover the smaller car segment, overlapping with Jaguar in the middle. I still think theres room for a smaller Jaguar in the middle (2.0 litre medium sized car say 4.7 to 4.8 metres long. My single biggest gripe with the XJ40 as that it was simply too long to be able to be parked in town espically with the towbar on it. the x300 is longer than the the XJ40 and the extra length doesnt do the X300 looks any favours. I think the xj40 is more in proportion. so yes I would like to see smaller Jag, and some modern Rovers covering the 25 size to say just short of ther 75 sized cars (the new75(65?) / and small Jag could quite sensibly be badge engineered variants with say differnt 1/4 panels bonnet and boot and interiors. Given JLRS track record for styling ive got no doubt they could come up with a fleet which are visually more appealing than the new MG range. but then IM getting used to the MG styling, maybe I feel sorry for them, but If im true to my self im not keen on the MG styling, but I relly like the XF. i wish I could have one.

  34. JLR needs vehicles with good mpg, to bring the average mpg across the entire vehicle ranges up, so it probably needs to sell vehicles of Tata Indica size. Tata might not work as a related family brand – think very cheap Nano cars and crude trucks – but rebadged Tatas, or reworked off Tata platforms, might work but not necessarily if branded Rover – Lanchester anyone?
    Bet JLR wish they had the Mini brand….

  35. Oh just to note , just three/four years ago JLR where very much struggling and laying off workers and such now have turned the brand around and are opening a new engine plant , creating many more jobs , thanks to a little TATA backing so how ever tarnished the rover name was made by the likes of BMW and Phionix, it is now just a name and badge ready to be put back to glory like JLR has transformed over the last few years, its natural progression for them really.

  36. A sport salon like the Rover SD1 would certainly be a great success and some good alternative for the classic BMW and Audi. But they have to do it now with upcoming markets as China and India. Quality issues are no longer a problem.
    Don’t forget one of the reasons BMW bought Rover was that they were impressed with the quality built of the Rover 600 and they saw it as real danger for their most successful model the 3-series. And the Rover 75 is still one of the most reliable cars you can find. For myself I will buy a Rover but no Jaguar or Range Rover. There are plenty of people for which a Jaguar and a Range Rover have a wrong image. Image works in two ways… And Land Rover / Range Rover is selling a lot more cars than Jaguar. Jaguar has to stay in it’s own class. They already made the mistake once (X-type). Let’s hope not a second time.

  37. @Mikey C I disagree perhaps its different in other parts of the world but I think A lot of people still see the RoverP5 as being the grand daddy of Rover and also the SD1 which raced at Bathhurst….(not very well though i seem to recall). the modern Rovers as you mention….they filled a niche… a small styly luxury car….but werent reliable it seems, but they handled well, were zippy, nice to look at (conservative) and quiet and confortable, 5 diagonal seatbelts.there is still room for a small luxury car in the market in my oppinion…but yes it needs to be a dependable luxury car. unforunately as it might be a smaller car it probably needs to be substantially shared with another platform to make it viable note aston marton are looking at a toyota to rebadge. alex

  38. Yes, a great product, well marketed, could be sold as a Rover, and an x-type replacement would be the right size and the right quality to fit the Rover name. Let’s call it Rover 2000. Jaguar is the right company to bring it back, but I wonder what’s in it for them. Surely it would be cheaper to market it as a Jaguar, and there’s no reason why Jaguar shouldn’t be in that market. A pity, I’d love to see it.

  39. Thing about if jag went into lower market area it is against what they are ment to be , so people would say it was a poor example of a jag , but using a different badge it could be a very good rover one of the best ever, which is nicer to here for the owner.
    Also show rooms sales man gets some one in wanting base model XF , jag use rover and the sales man can say well we can get you the base XF or you can take our new JLR made Rover 700 (random roverish number) at the top spec model for the same or similar price.

  40. I don’t share the pessimism about resurrecting a damaged brand. Anyone remember the joke (literally) that was Skoda? No one is laughing at them now.

    And did anyone here ever drive the original Fiat 500? I still have panic attacks thinking about it.

    I understand the point r11co (12) is making, and feel it is a shame that the Lancia name is still absent from the UK. I worked for Fiat/Lancia during the Beta rust saga, but I remember the Coupes, HPEs and Deltas with much affection – great cars to drive.

    In reality I don’t think people are that brand conscious. If it looks good, performs well and gets a good press reception it will sell, even if slowly at first.

  41. Good point Charlie even Jeremy Clarkson has good things to say about new VW Skoda these days.
    Thing is some manufactures have the money to cover up problems and there media doesn’t slag them off and try to ruin them.

  42. If the Rover marque was to be relaunched it would need to be on a really stunning car, it would need to create the first impression that the P6 made in 1963. The quality of engineering and build would need to be exceptional to get past the stigma that has unfortunately fallen on the Rover name. The other factor is that JLR will look very carefully at brand associations with consumers, Rover unfortunately has a bit of the ‘old duffer holding up the traffic image’ whilst BMW and Audi are a more aspirational – in fact they now occupy the market segment the Rover P6 helped create. Also still too many bangers with Rover badges on them on the roads, creates a bad image and makes the place look a mess. As for the US market Rover have never been overly successful in the past – reliability. Especially when they were branded as Sterling.
    Oh yes someone mentioned Skoda, I always wonder what Skoda would have come up with if they had had the funding that British Leyland had during the 1970s and 1980s?

  43. The comparison with Skoda is bogus. Sure – they were the butt of jokes, but not because they were unreliable rustbuckets that had the audacity to cost their owners the same retail price as good quality opposition only to be exposed as the rubbish they were. Skoda was honest, cheap but anachronistic (thanks to the politics of the day) transport. Reliable but behind the times – the quality of the basic product never waned.

    That’s why the Skoda brand was worth revitalising while many many others deserved to be forgotten.

  44. A new Rover, launched as a family car derivative of the new breed of Range Rover seems a perfectly plausible, potentially profitable idea.

  45. The 75 and the X-Type were both excellent cars. I’m just replacing my company car, having had a 75 then two X-Types. I tried a BMW 3 series. The ride was atrocious around town and the seats were flat and shapeless. I tried an Audi A4 – similar suspension, better seats. The Vauxhall Insignia was no better, at least on 18″ wheels. I’m getting a Toyota Avensis, because it was the first car I tried with anything like acceptable ride comfort. When’s someone going to tell all these magazine road testers that the emperor has no clothes?

  46. Anyone else fed up of seeing so many black and grey BMW’s and Audi’s around , A challenger to them is desperately needed motor ways are so boring seeing audi, bmw , audi, bmw, bmw, audi, audi, audi…..

  47. Sorry Enrico (55) but a damaged brand is a damaged brand for whatever reason. Skoda were the butt of jokes, and many people avoided them for that very reason alone, without a thought to the reality of the cars. I also knew several very happy owners of Lada cars in the past, but many more who wouldn’t buy one just because of the public (press) perception of Lada.

    The point is that such reputations only linger while the absence of a creditable replacement allows the ghost of products past to haunt the house. The quicker it can be exorcised by the introduction of a new product that looks right, performs well, is realistically priced and is well received by the press, the better.

    JLR certainly have the wherewithal to create such a model if they want to, and the use of the Rover name would make a lot of sense – including the fail-safe position that if the model bombed it wouldn’t cause collateral damage to the Jaguar brand. If it were successful, though, it would give them the facility to produce an even smaller ‘City’ car if they wished, without compromising the main brand.

    The question must be whether JLR have anything like that kind of market expansion in their corporate development plans. If they don’t, this whole debate is pure whatifery.

  48. I’d love to see rover come back, but if they put the badge on some overweight C**P like the Evoque, forget it. Perhaps they can reintroduce the SD1 with an AJV8 engine.

  49. Great post, Keith.

    I echo Charlie Keene’s post. A good product will be able to clean up the reputation of the Rover brand, just as the Octavia and Fabia did for the Skoda brand.

    However, the gap which JLR may need to plug is not the one between Jaguar and Land Rover but the one between Tata (core brand) and Jaguar. Right now there are next to no synergies between the two passenger car halves of Tata Group. A reborn Rover would not overlap with Jaguar, so its cars would mostly be compact and FWD. A few years down the line, Tata Motors could inherit the platforms and drivetrains introduced in the premium Rover vehicles (like Skoda with VW and Audi), giving its future products an edge over the competition from Hyundai and Maruti-Suzuki. It would thus be free from being too dependent on partnerships with other manufacturers.

    As for what market segments the reborn Rover could compete in, I think Ian Callum expressed interest in a Jaguar city car and Autocar had an “insider scoop” a few months ago about an FWD Jaguar rival to the impending Audi A3 and Mercedes CLC saloons. All JLR would need to do is brand these vehicles as Rovers instead of Jaguars.

  50. Some interesting points here. Now for mine as not only a life-long Rover lover (of the brand rather than the generically used reference to the remains of British Leyland) but someone who recognises the strengths and weeknesses of the brand.

    For starters, Jaguar Land Rover has made huge strides in recent years in terms of reducing its cost base through the greater sharing of components and producing a greater proportion of new models that buyers actually want to go out and buy. This will improve even further over the next five years when the number of new platform designs is reduced and shared across both companies and new engines are built in Wolverhampton.

    The use of the Rover name could of course further improve this further by utilising a version of a Jaguar Land Rover-designed platform and potentially competing in the Medium and Compact Executive market sectors. Of course any new Rover has to be ground breaking in the same way as the P6 2000 and SD1 was, which will not only appeal to existing owners/enthusiasts, but potentially new buyers too.

    Rover is a name that is still subjected to unwarranted bashing by so-called enthusiasts and critics in the United Kingdom because it was sadly the ‘posh name’ entrusted with giving kudos to the remains of British Leyland, which ultimately diluted some of the appeal of the name itself. And when there was bad news at Austin Rover Group/Rover Group and latterly MG Rover Group, the company was nearly always referred to by the media in a typically lazy, conveneient manner as simply “Rover”, which of course had an adverse impact on the desirability of the Rover Cars brand.

    However, in a number of exports markets such as Italy, Sweden and Spain, to name a few, the Rover name was well regarded for its aspirational image, sense of wellbeing and timeless, elegant designs. It was predominantly in the home market where it received a ‘beating’.

    In recent years Jaguar Cars Ltd has been ruthless in ditching some of the unecessary trinkets that left the Jaguar name stuck in a deep heritage rut for many years but, at the same time, was also rather motivated and inspired in how it intrepreted and used some of its heritage, with inspiring results. There is no reason why the same approach could not be applied to the Rover name, rather than any potential revival being motivated by just one particular era in Rover’s illustrious history (i.e. 1950s) and one particular model (i.e. P5).

    The Rover name also now has the added benefit of not being constrained by adorning existing models that are either ageing or restricted by licencing agreements. What you now have is simply the name and a wonderful, rich heritage to draw upon for appropriate inspiration for designing new models. Also, why not call the Rover operation the Rover Company Ltd, as Jaguar still trades as Jaguar Cars Ltd and Land Rover as Land Rover Ltd? This suggestion would neatly convey the objectives Rob H has set out in his comments (Point 54).

    One final point – any reintroduction of the Rover name should not be for the convenience of ‘plonking’ the Viking Longshop badge on any car, but adorning a new model that is fitting and appropriate for rejuvenating the aspirational appeal of the Rover name once again. In other words, no superminis or rebadged offerings derived from Tata designs, but potentially new R8-inspired Medium size offerings (in terms of quality, design versatility and aspirational appeal) and Compact Executive offerings (think quality, stylish and well packaged) offered in a number of bodystyles.

    Its a big task but given the marketing, brand management and design talent that exists within Jaguar Land Rover, and when also considering the efforts afforded to Skoda by Volkswagen and even to Daewoo/Chevrolet by General Motors, it is clearly not an impossible task.

  51. Okay so let’s imagine JLR bring back Rover there is a simple way to distance it from Jaguars products.

    Firstly it should be packed full of green technology, with a multi fuel turbine powering batteries and styling totally removed from any JLR product and any previous Rover. In short JLR should use the Rover name as a basis of rolling out technically edgy cars, return Rover to the technically pioneering years of the past and let this country’s best engineering talent loose on it, in short Rover could be Jaguars blue sky thinking sub division with successful technology filtering down onto JLR products long term.

  52. Any new Rover would have to ditch the retro thing and be Evoque-funky.

    But it’s not beyond the wit of man.

    Let’s not forget that until the XF, Jaguar had a fuddy-duddy image which is not to mention the brand’s less than stellar reputation for dependability.

    The XF changed all that pretty much overnight and we all know that the car is essentially a reclothed, developed S-type. Nothing wrong with that, of course, given that the car is so good, and it’s not as if Browns Lane (forgot I can’t say that any more) is alone in doing a bit of carry-over. It’s what the Germans do (how long has the EA827 been in production?)

    You do have to wonder how different things might have been if the 75 had been less cloyingly retro. Might the Phoenix Four’s best strategy have been to forget all about RD60 (adopt the Stilo!) and to have rebooted the 75 in a modern stylee?

    Done properly, I can see no reason for not reviving Rover What’s more, if a bunch of armchair pundits have considered it, I’m willing to bet my bottom that JLR has already looked into doing it.

  53. @ David 3500

    I think a Rover supermini is pretty much inevitable, but this time it shouldn’t be such a brand-destroyer. Nowadays, Audi has a supermini (A1) and rumours are swirling around a hypothetical BMW “0-Series”. Instead of a rehashed old mainstream Austin/Tata/Honda, a new Rover supermini would be a proper premium product. The market has moved on since the 1990s and early 2000s and the time is right for such a car.

    A few years later, Tata Motors could get access to the Rover supermini’s platform for a new Indica that could utterly thrash the Maruti Swift and Hyundai Accent.

    However, you’re right that rebuilding the image of the Rover brand should be a paramount concern. The supermini would have to wait until the compact and medium-sized vehicles were launched and established in the market.

    @ Marinast

    That’s a good idea for a halo product to grab the headlines, and also a good idea for a new image for the brand. A Rover rival to the Cadillac ELR would effectively “greenwash” not just the Rover brand but the entire JLR range as well. JLR is already developing an EREV supercar (C-X75) but a car like this would be even more prominent.

  54. I seem to recall at the time that the reason why Sterling became the Brand name for the XX-827, was that Rover is an American’s dog’s name …..

  55. There is a fantastic Rover out there that was never launched and fits in with Evoque perfectly. Remember the Rover TCV of 2002 – that car was more stylish than a Qashqui and fitted the same mould. Launch an updated version of that with some styling features from the Evoque and the honeycombe type grille of RR and Rover P6 products – add leather, a range of wood and technical interior finiahes, 2 or 4 wheel drive and a price of 20-30k – just below evoque, and a lwb 7 seater and you would have the reinvention of Rover sold through L-R dealers and built at Solihull. The waiting lists would grow and grow and I would replace my MG ZT!

  56. There’s one key ingredient missing from this argument – Rover is a failed brand. Jaguar and Land Rover were trading successfully at the time of the MGR closure, and, in Joe Punter’s minds, there was no longer a link back to BL days. In the same way that SAAB and Lancia will always be seen as failed and flawed car makers, so, unfortunately, it will be with Rover. If Tata wants a moniker with which to brand a new small car, it would be better off using Jaguar – after all, downsizing hasn’t done BMW or Mercedes any harm. But, the product must be right this time, not just a scaled down XF.

  57. There is a fair few points mentioned in all the above posts, In all honestly, the Rover name and the long-ship is a brand worth reusing. However, if the new car is say an x type size, a 2000 of today, advanced and green. Perhaps a Rover by Land/Range Rover slogan would work with an Evoque face. It could be worked with the Jaguar X type saloon / tourer based on the Evoque platform. Thus the Rover 2000 range could have four wheel drive. This model would be a welcome addition to JLR and to Tata. R O V E R badge on the bonnet, perhaps if and a big if, Tata were to develop smaller models the viking ship with a green sail in lieu of the red one would be suitable for the smaller models if needed. But, I do think a Rover smaller than a 2 litre is bad news. I had a ’97 420SLi and what a car it was. The T series engine was great and a very nice car too.
    I also believe if Tata do go down this route Rover name would be very safe. Thus Roewe would be a seen as a copycat name of the local Chinese market.
    Good luck Tata, you deserve this.

  58. People forget that Range and Land Rovers are well…Rovers. That only ‘half’ of Rover went bust in 2005 as Range/Land Rovers were still part of Ford and now owned by Tata. With their success in running JLR I’m totally convinced that Rover could be a very sucessful sub-brand as fwd cars under Indian management. With a Rover 75 replacement and an MPV based on it (who’d have an MPV Jaguar?) they could go down into Focus/small MPV territory, then Fiesta territory and maybe a CityRover based on the latest Indica built in India.

    Fanciful? Maybe. It’s a simple plan and with the future of Ellesmere Port in doubt would GM sell it to Tata?

  59. @Graham ‘Who’d buy a Jaguar MPV?’ Well, judging by the ‘success’ of the Mercedes R-Class, not many people. However, if done properly, a luxury MPV market could be quite lucrative, if a premium manufacturer manages to get rid of the ‘boring, working-class family dad’ image. A Rover MPV could work well, complementing the Land Rover name by making the SUV’s the natural step up from the luxury MPV’s, which could be a more progressive middle ground between Rover saloons and hatches and Land Rovers.

  60. A very good point by Graham above regarding “Rover” continuing on Land Rover vehicles. Another plus point for the reintroduction of Rover cars.

  61. One has to look at why MG Rover failed , If Land Rover and Mini had not been fire saled off They would of survived. As for a damaged brand , I dont think so , Skoda here in NZ is slowly recovering, having a worse reputation than any BL productn ever did !!

  62. Mini wasn’t disposed in a fire sale, Mike, BMW kept it and Cowley after it sold MGR to the P4. Longbridge designed the new MINI (more or less) but didn’t get the chance to build or sell it

  63. Paul T
    It would have been Gaydon (now part of JLR) who did the UK development on the MINI, but it was BMW who took many of the major decisions, such as the styling (done by their US studio) and the concept (i.e. an upmarket, larger car)

  64. The first R50 was built at Longbridge according to another thread on this site.

    Certainly Rover had more input than BMW, it was last minute decisions (like ditching Alex Moulton)that the Munich operation was rsponsible for. Rover certainly held all the data which was swiftly transferred to Bavaria when the sale was imminent. I remember when the new Mini was being talked about and the impression was that it was crtainly going to be a Rover-built car.

  65. If Rover were to reappear it could seriously dent MG and Rowewe’s chances in the UK – Would Roewe have to change the branding on thier cars?

  66. Just another (not too serious) aside. If JLR do reinvent Rover to develop into the sub luxury car market, what are the chances of them moving to bigger things, and resurrecting Guy commercial vehicles – a brand Jaguar also once owned. I’d love to see what their design studio could bring to truck cabs!

  67. Yes it would be great, for those of us who are enthusiasts of the brand, to see the relaunch of Rover. But a business case is hard to build.

    Jaguar does not need another brand to expand its range. BMW and Mercedes have proved that by including everything from small shopping hatchbacks, saloons, sports cars and a range of 4×4’s under the same banner.

    The launch, promotion and maintenance of a brand costs dearly. There would be little point business wise in adding more when you already have the marques and image required to cover the market

  68. Wishful thinking just the way I like it!
    JLR has a stunning design team that most other marques can only dream of . . . I am sure they could pull it of if the marketing guys agreed . . .

  69. Wasnt road rover mooted as a name for original range rover?Anyway i dont think if tata fetched back the rover name it would be bad?but lets face it there is over capacity in europe,fiat notably struggling-who buys bravo’s?RR are essentially niche vehicles,not everyone can afford them but thankfully are a sell out hit around the world,and at the moment they cant do no wrong-i love the RR sport advert in this months CAR magazine!

  70. Would love to see Rover back, I’ve said this many time. Give us some sleek coupe style hatchbacks for Focus size and Mondeo size cars. NO RETRO!!! Make them like a British equivilent that Volkswagen is to Audi. I had a Rover 220SDi (200/25 style) and loved it, put it in part exchange, for a Golf strangely, with 139000 miles on the clock, dealer could not believe it drove so well. If there was a beautifully styled, reliable, clean Rover, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  71. I think the Rover name could be used on a premium hatchback. Something like a slimmed down Evoque would do nicely . I can actually see a lot of the R8 in the Evoque’s design, can anyone else?

  72. Rather than seeing the Evoque as ‘like the R8 (or SD1 or any other slit-headlamp, fastback Rover)’, I see it as an example of why that kind of styling wasn’t applied to 4x4s. The big problem of the Evoque’s styling is that the slit-like windows and low roof are grossly at odds with the high waistline and huge wheels. On the whole, very ungainly – i only drive stylish cars like Maestros! The car that’s more like an SD1 is the XF with its long, low shape.

    May I suggest that JLR are good at engineering and marketing rather than styling?

  73. maestro man
    May I suggest that while you are perfectly entitled to your opinions, the fact that the Evoque is selling like hot cakes, depite its steep price, and that large numbers of people and the motoring press think it’s stunning looking, suggests that your opinions about its styling are in the minority!

    The low waistline tall window look is very much out of favour now, i don’t know if it’s fashion, packaging, weight or crash resistance that’s caused the change.

  74. i totalaly agree with glen aylett comments that if rover is to return it has to build quality cars again i had two metros and they ran well but where never good enough to carry the rover name i said this before graham day was to blame when he dropped the austin name and said he was taking rover up market when realy he was taking them down market.they need to get back to quality cars that complement the land rovers and jaguars also a lot of car names have gone but rover does not feel right not been around IT IS BADLY MISSED BRING IT BACK NOW!

  75. There’s an aura of restrained luxury to a Rover. Personally, I rather like the understated image that a Rover confers.

  76. it’s all wishfull thinking of course as tata have more or less confirmed the rover name will not return so why don’t they lease or sell the name to saic who could market roewe’s as rover’s in europe all it needs is a few phone calls from both companys.

  77. Land Rovers and Range Rovers are commonly referred to as Rovers in the USA already. No need to create a new independent Rover sub brand, just keep Land and Range as model designations within a newly created Rover Company, trade for a few years to get people used to the Rover name returning to it’s natural market position and then you have a brand that the public would happily accept a quality car from.

  78. Rover could be developed to become a sub-premiuum product similar to VW and Volvo. Look at the different categories and produce something that is classical (not retro) with key Rover traits (like BMW with Hofmeister kink).

    Compact car – evoque platform (3dr coupe, 5dr hatch, cabrio, Midi MPV – 5seat and 7seat)

    Mid-size – (saloon, estate, coupe, cabrio)

    Full-size – XF platform (saloon, estate, coupe, cabrio)

    MPV – based on disco platform

    Jaguar

    Compact – (saloon, shooting brake)
    Mid-size – F-type sports car
    Full-size – XF (saloon, shooting brake)
    Large – XK

    LR/RR
    Compact – Evoque
    Mid-size – Freelander
    Full-size – Discovery/ RR Sport
    Large – RR

    This would cover everything except city cars

  79. A completely pointless debate. JLR would need to be nuts to risk the investment needed to bring a new compact exec to the market and brand it Rover. This is a sector of the market dominated by slick, well marketed German brands. It will be difficult enough gaining entry with the car badged as a Jaguar, virtually impossible with a brand that died 7 years ago. There simply wouldnt be enough people with beards to keep the production lines going for a week, as MG have found out.

  80. I know that Rover bought Alvis in the sixties, was the name sold on again with the armoured cars or is it still available?
    that would be an evocative alternative even if not really sub jag in the least.

  81. @Paul:

    “There simply wouldnt be enough people with beards to keep the production lines going for a week, as MG have found out.”

    I am sorry but I find your comments about the people you perceive who have a genuine affection for the Rover marque to be offensive. For the record, I do not have a beard and am in my thirties who has considerable experience driving examples of those “slick, well marketed German brands.” I have a genuine affection for Rover cars for offering something that these other brands don’t – timeless, elegant styling, a sense of wellbeing and, above all, personality.

  82. Jaguar Land Rover will not bring out the Rover badge, it’s dead. Rover will cost way too much to bring back, the amount of advertising etc, when that could be spent on R&D on other models is nuts.

    Jaguar are having it’s best sales in its history at the moment, why not just let them bring out smaller models now that more and more people are confident in the brand.

    Now that Jaguar have a halo model (C-X75) customers can look up the range knowing that they have a car with a badge that is also on a €1mill car. Rover will not re-appear in at least in the near future. Jaguar have too many models being released soon, F-Type being one!

  83. Remember the last time there was a Tata/Rover? MG Rover’s Indian takeaway was the absolute nadir of the brand/marque.

    Rover is tarnished beyond repair. It hurts me to say so. It became a joke in its home market and, while some people here keep saying it had a good reputation in some markets, that reputation did not sell enough cars to make it survive. So how valuable really was/is the brand?

    Jaguar has to extend downwards. Just like Mercedes has. Just like BMW has. Just like Audi has.

    But it has to do it right.

    Although the Mondeo it was based on was a fine car in its own right, the company failed to give the X-Type enough “Jaguarness”. That lesson must have been learned now.

    While that “Jaguarness” is important, the XF has shown that they’re learning that Jags can begin to look different and modern.

    When “Rover” was extended downwards, it just meant a badge was put on cars originally destined to be Austins (Metro) or Triumphs (200). No care was taken with the core brand value of a marque that originally appealed to upper middle class sensibilities in its home market. When a brand has a confused reputation and sends out contradictory signals, trust begins to wane.

    Another lesson from which JLR/Tata should learn.

  84. The Rover brand was indeed loosing its equity for several long years for reasons too many to mention,launching the lexus brand cost Toyota £5 billion from tip to toe.I am afraid its a case of let sleeping dogs lie,too much capacity in europe as it is,PSA and Renault are in shit street so who knows whats going to happen in the long term,even FIAT without the 500 would be very worried indeed.

    @99 You are 100% correct.

  85. The Mini “brand” had been dead for years before BMW resurrected it. Regardless of which badge is stuck on the front of a small Jag, it will need to be agressively marketed. The is no doubt that there is lingering affection for many on the old BL brands. But they are also encumbered by some negative images. (as was the mini brand).

    Would the use of Rover or Rielly or Woolsely or Triumph sell more cars in that segment than just sticking a Jaguar badge on reworked Chrysler (see Delta)?

    Would the use of the Jag badge on small car be damaging? I certainly damaged Merc, but both BMW and Audi appear to have gotten away with it (in part because they were not quite in the same prestige segment any way). Certainly a mini-rolls royce or bently or Ferrari would all be damaging to their brand image.

    It could be done, it could have benifits. One for the marketing boys to spend a fortune looking at

  86. I wouldn’t have said that the MINI brand had too many poor memories.
    It had the 60s cool Britannia image, Paddy Hopkirk’s Monte Carlo rally win, despite many owners during the 70s and 80s dealing with rust and A series engines, it still had a cheeky/fun little car image.
    It was launched at the right time too, turn of the millenium and retro was starting to come back in fashion – VW launched the new Beetle, Chrysler the PT Cruiser, personal imports of the Nissan Figaro were popular.
    The fact that it had the backing of BMW didn’t harm sales either…

    I wouldn’t say that the A class damaged the Merc brand. Merc are a one-off brand that are able to badge small hatchbacks, trucks, buses, vans and still have a range topping saloon that World leaders could be seen stepping out of. Indeed the Rolls Royce rivalling Maybach was axed due to being an unknown name, the Mercedes badged S-class Pullman is being offered as an alternative to the Phantom.

    Aston Martin for the most part got away with selling a Toyota city car. They made it exclusive and ‘reassuringly expensive’. It doesn’t look like ‘Oh they’re desperate to own an Aston’ in the same manner of the A1 or 1 series, but more an ‘Oh the DB9 must be parked up at the mansion while they nip into town.’

    I would like to see Rover return, but I would like to see it rivalling the BMW ‘i’ series.

    Keep Jag for the luxury saloons/coupes/crossover, use Rover for the technical showcases – hybrids, electric cars etc. – have it as a British Tesla / Prius brand. Sell it as such in the US alongside gas guzzling LRs/RRs.
    Buyers might buy a Range Rover and a Rover hybrid alongside it, in the same way as US buyers buy a Lexus and a Prius.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*