Concepts and prototypes : Roewe 550

The Roewe is well known for being designed and engineered in the UK.

Here are some images of that development process…

September 2008 – Roewe promotional video

To promote the launch the Roewe 550, SAIC put out a promotional video to emphasize the Anglo-Chinese nature of its new baby. Starring SAIC Design Director Anthony Williams and SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre’s General Manager, David Lindley, there were a few interesting images on display.

Some work to do at the front...
Some work to do at the front...
Rejected styling proposal more modern, but lacking brand identity...
Rejected styling proposal more modern, but lacking brand identity...
Scale model of final styling scheme
Scale model of final styling scheme
The design centre in Leamington Spa... that image on the screen looks rather frivolous to us...The design centre in Leamington Spa... that image on the screen looks rather frivolous to us...
The design centre in Leamington Spa... that image on the screen looks rather frivolous to us...
Influences on the rejected frontal treatment (above)...
Influences on the rejected frontal treatment (above)...

April 2008 – Roewe 550 design story


Roewe 550
Design transition from paper to showroom has been reasonably uncluttered...

The SAIC Design Team was briefed to create a brand new four-door saloon to sit alongside the Roewe 750 in the Chinese market but also write a new chapter in the Roewe Brand’s development worldwide.

Being an all new design, this was a chance to produce a modern world class medium sized sedan, retaining the British-influenced dignity and elegance of the 750, while forging a new distinctive Chinese dynamic image and character for the first in a range of many new products from the SAIC’s Roewe premium brand. A close knit International design team, based in UK and Shanghai, was led in the UK by SAIC Design Director Anthony Williams, and SAIC Motor UK Technical Centre General Manager, David Lindley.

Exterior design development

Roewe 550

The final theme was selected for its calm yet dynamic style, with a characterful front-end identity design to enhance a strong link with the Roewe 750. The final aesthetic retains a premium feel in line with Roewe core brand values along with dynamic and confident imagery.

In particular the headlamp style was strongly influenced by Roewe 750, whilst offering a more progressive and youthful hi-tech detail with low-beam projector units as standard feature. In harmony with the dramatic front end pan view form, 550 offers a bold and imposing statement. The side view ‘cigar-shaped’ character, again, is derived from Roewe 750 with its obvious curved shoulder and belt-lines, designed to reflect the chrome detailing of 550 and present a dynamic and youthful character.

A confident stance is enhanced by the gently curved sill line. Subtly curved surface treatment and pronounced arches offers a balanced language. The depth of the bodyside reinforces the car’s engineering requirement to conform to the highest international safety targets.

Interior Design

Roewe 550

The design fuses the trend for premium ‘simple flowing forms’ with the Asia Pacific taste for ‘technology on show’ enhancing SAIC Motor’s position as the major force in Chinese car manufacturing. The design has been carefully developed to ensure colour options are harmonious to the theme.

The Roewe 550 is offered in two colourways; the warm option is offers familiarity to the Chinese customer with a bold horizontal colour-split and ‘matt’ wood finish whilst the all dark-grey option with ‘black’ gloss wood finish enhances the 550 dynamic and culturally balanced character possibly bringing a European feel to the more progressive customer.

Roewe 550
The UK part of the Design Team with the IP21 Design Model from left to right: Principal Designers Dan Bowen, Matt Dillon and Peter Andrews; Tony Williams (SAIC Design Director)

September 2007 – W261 gets closer to reality


Roewe 550
SAIC's UK design office putting the finishing touches to its W261 project. Don't be fooled - it's far more advanced than the clay model stage, and expect a launch later this year.

Although you’d never know it, SAIC does have a press office, and amid all of the negotiations with NAC-MG, it has released these images of its upcoming mid-liner, also known as project W261. The car, which has taken shape at the SAIC UK Technical Centre (née Ricardo2010), follows closely the W2 project and the CGI renderings issued by AutoExpress earlier this year.

More details of the car have also emerged, including confirmation that the entry-level model will be powered by a 1.6-litre engine, and that the K-Series power units used under the bonnet will be EuroIV compliant – something that Powertrain engineers in Longbridge had achieved before the company went into administration back in 2005. Like the original engine, much of the engine management system will be supplied by Siemens…

The intriguing prospect is whether there will be an MG5 version of this car, given that SAIC and NAC are about to tie-up, finally giving us a replacement for the highly underated ZS model?

Roewe 550

Thanks to: China Car Times, and ‘Windy’.

Keith Adams
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  1. I never understood why they came up with the Roewe brand name when they could or just used one of the dormant brands they bought with MG like Wolseley

  2. Didn’t they choose Roewe because it is pronounced Ro-vee? Similar to Rover. I once saw a Rover 75 in my town with a Roewe badge on the grille rather than the Longship. Don’t know how that came to be.

  3. I don’t know why they didn’t just come up with their own new brand anyway. Having “funny” Asian names never stopped the likes of Suzuki, Toyota, Samsung, Isuzu and Hyundai being massively successful internationally.

    Chinese giant Yutong has become a massive name internationally in buses, Huawei in phones etc

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