'Raw and Focused' MGs Are Unveiled

MG Rover will finalize the development strategy for its new lower-medium car by the middle of the year.

The British carmaker has identified four main options for the new model, which is due to appear in 2003-2004. It will replace both the Rover 25 hatchback and 45 sedan.

The options are:

1. Develop a brand new platform in cooperation with another carmaker.

2. Develop a brand new platform with the help of a supplier.

3. Shorten the Rover 75 platform using the resources of MG Rover.

4. Shorten the Rover 75 platform in collaboration with a supplier.

MG Rover officials have said they could use a supplier such as Magna International or Mayflower as a partner in the development of the new car.

MG Rover CEO Kevin Howe said his preferred option would be to shorten the Rover 75 platform and use it as the base for the new car.

"I'll be enticed by that route," said Howe.

But MG Rover will only choose that option if the costs are right, said Howe.

Shortening the Rover 75 platform would have the advantage of giving MG Rover more control over its new model. It would not have to depend on another carmaker's design.

Rob Oldaker, director of product development, said the company's main concern behind the idea of a shortened Rover 75 platform is the cost of materials.

Howe and Oldaker were interviewed here in the English midlands at the launch of MG Rover's new MG car lineup. The company introduced three new models at Longbridge, code named X10, X20 and X30. They are based respectively on the Rover 75, 45 and 25.

MG Rover will begin building the new MGs in the summer, and they will be launched in the autumn. There will be three basic variants of each car, known internally as Entry, Core and Ultimate.

The Ultimate version of the X10 will feature a 375hp V-8 engine. For this model, the Rover 75 platform will be radically reengineered for rear-wheel drive.

The new MGs will use technology derived from MG Rover's motor sport program. The MG brand will stand for affordable performance, while the Rover brand will stand for luxury.

Oldaker said the MG range will be "raw and focused driver's cars."

Roughly 25 percent of the 200,000 units to be built annually at Longbridge will be MGs. The rest will be Rovers.

MG Rover also unveiled the MGF Trophy, a high-end version of its two-seat open-top sports car. For the Trophy, the power output of the MGF's 1.8-liter VVC engine has been boosted from 143hp to 160hp. The new car has a claimed top speed of 225kph.

This article is courtesy of AutomotiveNewsEurope.