The Tourer Concept Vehicle
In the months following the formation of MG Rover in May 2000, many changes were quickly put in place that affected the make-up of the product range. Rover’s range was split in two, and the immediate marketing focus was shifted away from the existing brand in an attempt to establish MG as a dynamic brand that younger people would find little difficulty relating to.
So throughout 2000 and 2001, MG received the majority of the limelight, while Rover continued on its merry way, looking a little neglected. However, that all changed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2002, when they unveiled their radical TCV (Tourer Concept Vehicle).
Penned by Peter Stevens‘ team at Longbridge, the TCV marked a new direction for Rover styling. Gone were the “retro” styling cues, and in was a sharp and contemporary look… the grille moved away from the Auntie shape as developed in later years on the 600 and 75 – and towards an entirely new interpretation of the theme.
The five-door model was designed with a verstile interior, which Rover were at great pains to demonstrate: the boot was opened at the “reveal” to show a washing machine, which was stood upright! I am not sure what they were trying to say about anticipated buyers, but it was a very potent way of demonstrating a well-shaped boot!
The official line was this car was form the basis of the Rover 45 replacement, and in the end it became very obvious that the look being chased for RDX60 was one derived from the TCV. Given the excellence of Rover 75’s chassis, which the RDX60 was be based upon, and the originality of the styling, there was real confidence within Rover that the RDX60 could have been a hit…
That was until the delays took hold.
TCV at Geneva
Rover TCV concept: By Sam Livingstone, Car Design News
THE TCV is the first concept car to bear the Rover badge since the CCV concept in 1986. It is a strong design statement that Rover is moving on from its current heritage laden design identity that the face lifted Rover 800 introduced exactly a decade ago.
First acquaintance with the car is dominated by the contemporary sheer surfaced and hard edged aesthetic, and the strong face incorporating a larger, cleaner interpretation of the classic Rover grille that originates from the 1949 P4 and 1958 P5. This grille is recessed into the hood but has depth that is easily read, and a prominent ‘T’ motif from a broad upper edge and similarly broad central vertical bar. It also is more of a trapezium (as opposed to rectangle) shape that tapers downward with more acutely angled sides than before.
The tapering is accentuated by nearby tall angular lights, and by the line and surface running parallel to the grille sides that traces all the way through hood, A-pillar, cant rail and C-pillar to the rear window. This integration of line and surface elements around the car give the car an ‘all of a piece’ strength and quality which are intrinsic Rover characteristics.
A falling feature line that runs the length of the car is the one exception to this, as it fails to link with any of the other lines and surfaces on the car. It look likely to have been added at a late stage to break the sheerness of the flanks that are more akin to the cold teutonic form language of an Audi A4 or Opel Signum, than the warm voluminous form that the P5, P6, SD1 and 75 Rovers exhibited.
Beyond the confident new aesthetic design of the TCV, is the conceptual design of a ‘lifestyle estate’ based crossover that shows Rover’s intent to capitalise on the increasingly image leading ‘lifestyle estate’ market in the future. It also demonstrates that Rover recognises the need to be among the early adopters in reacting to the effects that SUV and MPV vehicles have had on the market.
With the stance and wheel arch treatment similar to that of the Audi A6 All-Road, the TCV has adopted some SUV toughness. And with apparent interior versatility, and the capacity to load a washing machine upright into the rear, (they don’t like to be carried any other way) the TCV has adopted some typical MPV traits in a similar was to the Chrysler Pacifica and Mercedes-Benz GST concepts shown at Detroit.
Rover has changed ownership and design identity many times during even the youngest lives of its customers. Although it desperately needs to become a brand that a broader, younger minded audience can identify with, it also needs to be seen to connect with its heritage – to show some sort of consistency despite its capricious recent background. The TCV shows how this might be achieved but its translation into a production car (to replace the Rover 45) shall walk a fine line between modern relevance and historical reverence.