SO we’ve been treated to a more upto date RD/X60 concept, thanks to scoops in The Sun, Autocar and AutoExpress.
What can we say – this design is certainly a departure from the existing TCV-like concepts, which have been doing the rounds since 2002 – and without doubt, it’s contemporary in a way the TCV no longer is. But is it what the company needs? In a word, yes. This car is absolutely vital to MG Rover’s future in Europe, and it is only right that a progressive hatchback design has ‘leaked’ out of Longbridge, because it is exactly the kind of car you and I will want to be buying when it goes on sale in early 2007.
Looking at the picture we have (and the updated Photoshop version in tomorrow’s AutoExpress magazine), it seems to strike exactly the right note, eschewing all semblance of ‘retro’, which has served to hold the 75 back, or give it a timeless appeal, depending on your point of view. It is probably a little early to reflect on the styling of the car, which is hardly representative on what is obviously a clay model, but there are promsing signs of modernity. We know it won’t be a clonker, because Peter Stevens simply won’t allow that to happen. Let’s hope visibility isn’t as poor as those gun-slit windows and fat pillars hint at.
Engineering-wise it should be on the money, assuming it retains some of the 75’s know-how in the chassis department and uses the upcoming K2-Series engines (please, please, please make sure it doesn’t have an appetite for head gaskets the current on has) petrol engines and common-rail L2-Series diesel engines.
We know it won’t be a munter, because Peter
Stevens simply won’t allow that to happen.
2007 is a long time to wait, but production engineering and final testing cannot be rushed – if it is, we’d be looking at a repeat of so many BMC>Rover launches in the past, where early adopters end up doing final testing for the company. Mind you, everyone within MG Rover is acutely aware of past mistakes, and it is highly unlikely we’ll see this car before it is completely ready.
AutoExpress’ excellent (and pro-Rover) staffer, Craig Cheetham, has hinted at internal sources talking about a lead-into-production time of 12 months. That would see the Rover R4 and MG ZS (or whatever they are going to be called) enter production in the early months of 2006. Interesting, because Craig wouldn’t write that if he wasn’t sure of his facts – but we have to ask the question:
Can MG Rover get the tooling into Longbridge, run comprehensive testing, homologate and every other pre-production process in 12 short months?
Even if the RD/X60 were completely finished and ready to roll in every department, that would be a tall order. And if you look at MG Rover’s research and development spends over the past couple of years (e.g., £15m 2002-2003), major development has yet to take place. OK, TWR undertook a lot in the early days, and MG Rover could well be outsourcing some work to Pininfarina, a 12-month lead time simply doesn’t add up.
In reality, two years would be about right if everyone responsible sweats blood and works 18-hour days… which, of course, they will, once SAIC has signed all the paperwork.
Good luck to MGR and let’s hope we see the RD/X60 emerge into the limelight late next year – just make sure it’s 100 per cent right when it goes on sale…
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.