Fleet News

Unveiling marks start of a new Rover era

NEW MG saloons mark the beginning of a new era for MG Rover. Although some might remember the 1980s when MG versions of the Metro, Maestro and Montego emerged after the death of the MG Midget, MG Rover is keen to emphasise the differences in its new strategy.

John Parkinson, director of sales and marketing, admitted that the 1980s cars were now viewed as 'a bit naff'. The new models are still referred to by their codenames - X10 (based on the Rover 75), X20 (based on the 45) and X30 (based on the 25) - and there will be three levels of specification and engine choices for each variant, currently referred to as 'entry', 'core' and 'ultimate'.

Prices should range from less than £10,000 for the entry level X30 to more than £30,000 for the ultimate X10. Engine choices were subject to last minute changes, which even took some senior MG Rover personnel by surprise. The core model of the X10 range was due to be announced as a 190bhp version of the 2.5-litre V6 engine, but this was changed just before last Tuesday's unveiling to a 260bhp V8. The company is keeping tight-lipped about the source of the V8 engines at the moment, but hope to announce more details in a few weeks. A spokesman said: 'They will not be Bavarian V8s.'

MG Rover seems keen to re-establish its sporting heritage following six years of BMW stewardship when the German owner had a sporting image of its own to promote. The MG saloon range will make up a quarter of the company's production, which currently stands at 200,000 units a year, and will go on sale in the UK and across Europe by September.

Project X10 - Based on the current Rover 75, but with stiffer suspension, large diameter wheels, larger brakes and sharper steering. Engine choices range from 158bhp and 193bhp versions of the KV6 engine for the entry model with a 260bhp V8 engine for the core model, and a rear-wheel drive 375bhp V8 for the ultimate model.

Project X20 - Based on the current Rover 45, the X20 will be available as a four-door saloon or five-door hatchback, and has similar chassis changes to the X10. A version will be entered in the British Touring Car Championship and will form the basis of the ultimate road-going model. Other engines include a choice of 1.6 and 1.8 K-series engines and a 2.0 turbodiesel unit.

Project X30 - Shares its platform with the Rover 25 and has the same sporty upgrades as the other new MG models. It will be the 'hot hatch' of the range and will be available with 1.4 and 1.8-litre K-series engines or a 2.0 turbodiesel. The ultimate version will be based on MG's competitor in the World Rally Championship's 1,600cc class. The entry model will go on sale at less than £10,000 on-the-road.

MGF Roadster - Given a new lease of life with a new entry level 1.6i and a high-performance model called the Trophy 160 Special. The 1.6i uses a 110bhp engine and has a lower specification than the previous entry level car. However, it still includes power-steering, electric windows and alloy wheels as standard, and costs £15,500 on- the-road. The Trophy has a deep front spoiler, competition suspension and racing brakes, along with a 158bhp version of the 1.8 litre K Series engine. It will accelerate from 0-60mph in less than seven seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. It costs £20,995 on-the-road.

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