It is high time for Rover and Jaguar to show they can design for the future
ROVER DIDN’T so much shoot itself in the foot at the Birmingham Show this week, as blast off both legs with a sawn-off shotgun. The British maker is renowned for clutching defeat from the jaws of victory, but last Tuesday’s performance marked a spectacular new low for Britain’s most important car company. Five hours after unveiling the first new British Rover in more than 20 years, the company announced that it would close Longbridge unless the workers fell into line. Headlines that might have lauded a fine new British car, were replaced by stories about plant closures and redundancies.
Rover’s engineers and designers had been strutting about with great pride that morning. They must have felt deflated the following day. The new Rover 75 is a handsome, well engineered car that exudes olde worlde British charm. It is amazing that it has taken German owners to persuade Rover to make cars that look British again, even if it is a little too retro for many tastes. But if the designers had spent a bit less time rummaging around in the loft, and bit more time looking ahead, the 75 might have been even better.
The other big British star at Birmingham is the new Jaguar S-type. As with the Rover, it’s a retro design and name. It is high time for Jaguar to show that it can design for the future, rather than rehash its past. A quick look at the new Alfa 156 and Audi TT shows it can be done.