News - MG
Rover back to being British
MG Rover plans a raft of new models in the next three years
22 Nov 2000
By TIM BRITTEN
A REVITALISED and British to the bootstraps MG Rover will expand its range of cars on the international front over the coming years.
Since the buy-in by the Phoenix group earlier this year, the company is busy returning to its British roots - hopefully, taking the best of the lessons learned during the BMW period.
For Australia, this will mean a return of the Rover badge with the introduction of the 2.5-litre V6 engine 75 at the 2001 Melbourne motor show.
The two-tier model range is expected to be priced at the same levels as the BMW announcement at the same show this year. This will mean a base Club model around $51,000 and a top-spec Connoisseur version around $59,000.
MG Rover Australia managing director Ian Pagent said the company hoped to sell about 1000 Rover 75s a year in Australia through a small dealer group at the moment comprising 12 to 13 outlets. Mr Pagent indicated the task of bringing Rover into the Australian market would be something of a challenge and require "some investment".
The sales expectations may sound ambitious, but Mr. Pagent is convinced the cars have the goods to establish a place in the prestige market.
"The Rover 75 is visually a stunning car, very competitively priced. We are very confident that this goal can be achieved," he said.
The 75 Club will be available in both manual and automatic form, while the upmarket Connoisseur will come with five-speed automatic transmission only.
Both models will have leather upholstery, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control and an Alpine sound system with six-disc CD changer.
Club models will come with 15-inch alloy wheels while the Connoisseur will use larger 16-inch alloys.
Speaking during a lightning visit to Australia for the Sydney motor show, MG Rover product development director Rob Oldaker indicated the company was fired up to unleash a raft of new models wearing both Rover and MG badges over the next few years.
This will mean the application of MG badges to certain Rover cars - a practice Mr Oldaker says is in keeping with MG tradition.
The MGF - which has "a lot of life left yet" according to Mr. Oldaker - is expected to receive a power boost as well as running improvements next year, ahead of a heavily revised version that will appear in 2004.
A constantly variable "Steptronic" transmission MG is already in Australian showrooms.
Mr Oldaker said various British styling houses were working on the MG sports convertible under the guidance of new design director Peter Stevens, who comes to the company with an extensive motor racing background and has a keen interest in aerodynamics.
This will mesh well with plans to embellish the marque's race pedigree - a not insignificant part of which is the company's intention to contest the Le Mans 24-hour race in 2001.
Mr Pagent said MG would stick with the current Australian distribution arrangement, with six MG Garages operating out of major urban areas around the country.
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