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The Irony of the CityRoverAfter BMW dumped MG Rover in the year 2000, things were not good. The Rover Group had been relieved of its most valuable assets in Land Rover and MINI, being left with the new Rover 75 and the ageing 25 and 45 ranges. Land Rover had gone to Ford, to join former British Leyland stablemate Jaguar. Meanwhile the new owners of MG Rover, the Phoenix Consortium, paid a nominal sum of £10 to BMW, with £500 million going the other way to secure the short-term future of the company. Despite derision towards what BMW had done to Rover, and jubilation among the Longbridge faithful at new ownership, Rover needed new models fast. Very quickly, the Rover 75 Tourer was launched, then the facelift MG F, now known as the MG TF, and finally the new range of MG saloon cars, the ZR, ZS, and ZT, or better known as the three Rover models with some sporty bits attached. Although well received, these new MGs were not what Rover needed. Yes, they expanded the range and attracted new customers, but being based on existing cars they weren’t going to save MG Rover. It’s not as if they weren’t trying though. There were a couple of notable and interesting models in the works, such as the RDX 60, a Rover 45 replacement. The constant problem however, was cash. Enter Tata. The enormous Indian conglomerate had its own city car, the Tata Indica, and Rover lapped up the opportunity to introduce a new model. Rover had been absent from this end of the market since the end of Mini and Metro production, and despite the Indica being a five year old design, it was relaunched in Britain as the CityRover in 2003. The cars were built by Tata in Pune, India, then shipped over to Britain where Rover nailed on a Viking long ship badge, some new bumpers, stiffer suspension, and quicker steering. It’s safe to say this recipe wasn’t very successful. MG Rover refused to lend a CityRover to Top Gear magazine to test, leading to one of the most iconic moments in Top Gear history, with James May going undercover to test drive a CityRover at a Rover dealer. Not only did this debacle make the CityRover something of a laughing stock, but the car itself was never going to set the world alight with its cheap interior and underwhelming characteristics, even if it was very practical and rather quick. Rover didn’t have much of a say on how the car was engineered. They had originally wanted to make many more changes to the original Tata before the CityRover went on sale, but were denied. By early 2005, with sales figures disappointing everybody, Tata and Rover went about updating the CityRover to make it more desirable. By April, the new CityRovers were on the ships, headed towards Britain, and while they were sailing over, MG Rover went bust. The date was April 8th, 2005. The question lingered over what would happen to these cars. Most of them went back to Tata, but some slipped through the net and were sold by Motorpoint at a knockdown price of £3999 on the road. Amazingly, these Mk2 CityRovers sold quite well. Maybe that was due to the new trim, or maybe it was the price. MG Rover charged way over the odds for the old CityRover, and perhaps Motorpoint had found the equilibrium price. Whatever the outcome, MG Rover was dead and so was Tata’s entry into the European market. Or so we thought. Three years later Ford was looking to offload its premium brands of Jaguar and Land Rover, with Tata being the preferred bidder. By mid-2008, Tata was the proud new owner of these two great institutions, but in a twist of fate, they also ended up with the Rover name. When MG Rover went under, Ford exercised their right to buy the name from BMW, who had been licencing it out to MG Rover until they went under in 2005. Only five years after the launch of the CityRover and Tata’s first exposure in Britain, they controlled the lot. Fast forward twelve years, and Jaguar Land Rover is producing exciting, innovative models like the Jaguar I-Pace. A world away from the little city car that Tata donated to Rover back in 2003. It’s been heavily rumoured for a few years now that Land Rover may wish to create a rebadged Jaguar XJ, known by the press as the ‘Road Rover’. So maybe, in the next few years, Tata may be launching a Rover for themselves. If you’re at all interested, here’s my review of the CityRover: https://youtu.be/VpSQGlu6wF0 …and you can find me on YouTube here: https://YouTube.com/TwinCam