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Blunder Buses: Rover CityRover

1 month ago

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Writer:

Richard Bremner | Journalist

Date:

17 May 2024

If you can remember the 2003 CityRover – a not entirely rewarding activity, I grant you – your inner automotive nerd might like to know there were a few unexpectedly positive things about this Anglo-Indian project. One was the ingenious name, which cleverly provided a Cuprinol description of the car’s mission, while simultaneously distancing it from the rest of the Rover range, whose model line-up was decisively more upmarket, despite its age.

Another was a proposed pricing strategy that might have lured a surprising number of customers to MG Rover’s increasingly quiet showrooms. And a third was a previously unrevealed plan for MG Rover and Tata to jointly develop a new MG Midget sports car from this supermini. That, hoped MG Rover design director Peter Stevens and Tata engineering boss Dr Venkat Sumantran, would come later.

For the CityRover, the immediate and key part of the plan was to take the Tata Indica, India’s first domestically developed car, rebrand it with some light improvements and sell this five-door supermini for a price that promised to make it the cheapest new car on sale in Britain. The plan would not give MG Rover an absolutely brand-new model, the Indica having been on sale since 1998, but it would provide a contemporary car new to its showrooms.

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