New Models - Rover 75

Rover 75 Expanded: There will be several additions to the Rover 75 range.

Expanded: There will be several additions to the Rover 75 range.

Entry level models bring users-choosers in sight of British prestige sedan and wagon range

MG ROVER Australia will recast its 75 prestige range to accommodate a new sub-$50,000 entry level sedan.

Called the Classic, the five-speed manual version of the sedan will be priced at $49,950 when it is launched in August, while the five-speed auto will be $51,950.

There will also be a Tourer version in both manual and auto forms, incurring a $3000 premium.

A touch of irony is that the price reduction lines the 75 Classic up directly against the 318i, the volume selling model of Rover's former owner BMW.

To make room for the Classic, MGRA will drop the previous entry level car, the $53,450 manual transmission Club.

It also plans to re-launch the top-spec Connouisser SE and add $1950 to the price, taking it from $69,990 to $71,950, the new price justified by the change to 17-inch alloy wheels.

But that's not the range-topper, as a few examples of the Connouisseur SE Tourer will also be imported, adding $4500 to the sedan's price.

All this Rover 75 activity comes in addition to this month's launch of the MG ZT range of much-modded 75 sedans and wagons.

Add in the July launch of the MG TF replacement for the MGF and MGRA says it is shooting for around 1500 sales in 2002, compared to 1004 in 2001.

MGRA marketing and communications manager David Watson said the Classic was launched to open the 75 up to the user-chooser market.

"At the moment we can't supply a Rover 75 with an automatic transmission and metallic paint under the luxury car tax threshold," he said.

"And a lot of user-choosers who are allowed to use a company car very often have a price level that cuts off there."

The Classic replaces leather with cloth trim and the six-stack CD player with a single-slot unit, but otherwise it is indistinguishable from the Club.

"It is not a strip car," said Mr Watson. "It's still got the wood dash, the alloy wheels, the 2.5-litre V6 engine and five-speed auto option.

"The last thing we want to do after establishing the 75 as an affordable but very good luxury car is to try and gut it."

Nevertheless, Mr Watson expects the Classic to make little sales impact in 2002 because MGRA wants to launch it carefully. He estimates a full year will net about 200 sales.

"One of the problems is we won't get Classic till August and there will be a delay while we launch it and get the idea across - I think it is going to take a little time to establish the idea of a sub-$50,000 Rover 75."

Mr Watson is also wary of the introduction Volvo gave its new base model S60 2.4, which went on sale in April at the same price.

"We don't want to go out and push it as a strip car and I think Volvo is in danger of doing that now," he said.

"Every time I read a press release about the Volvo S60 they are always talking about the things they have taken out, and I don't want to do that."

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