With the news that Tata Motors Limited (owners of the thriving Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC) and PSA Peugeot Citroën (owners of Peugeot, Citroën and the newly spun-off DS Automobiles brand) are joining forces, for those of us who lament the sad events at Longbridge in 2005, there is only one question: whither Rover’s return?
Consider that Peugeot has a range of fairly successful hatchbacks – in particular, the 208 and 308 are said to be something of a return to the x05 and x06 eras. The 508 and Citroën C5 have been slow sellers, and PSA didn’t manage to convince GM to partner the Insignia replacement with a shared platform.
The DS range has been a surprise success, cashing in on the wake of MINI. One of the main criticisms of DS5 was that it had particularly harsh suspension – a charge that should never be levelled against (what was) a big Citroën. Their SUV line-up is made up of some crossovers derived from the hatchback range, but no real 4×4 at the top end of their ranges.
On the Tata side, there are Jaguar which makes brilliantly comfortable and sporting saloons (indeed, the nicely balanced handling-comfort properties of the Peugeot 406 were once compared to a Jaguar’s) and Land Rover which are dedicated 4×4 specialists, moving ever up market. Yet anything below premium is missing from the two marques’ line-up.
Thus, it becomes evident where they can scratch each other’s backs. Citroën-Peugeot-DS gain larger platforms, access to expertise in comfort and handling and 4×4 SUV technology. Tata gains a range of smaller FWD hatchback platforms. However, would it be right that Jaguar descend down below XE size? It did work for BMW (1-Series, the i3 electric car), Audi (A1, A3) and Mercedes-Benz (A-Class), but perhaps it would be better to resurrect our old friend Rover for such vehicles – DS-style vehicles, comfortable, stylish and modern.