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Tales of the TataRover (and friend; now with Agila content)


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Fascinating write up and fascinating car in a way, I like the bit about no one knew what the Mk II improvements were as there was no literature!  Must have been pretty soul destroying working for a Rover dealer at the time (in fact I did have a friend who worked at a London dealership.)  I also have a hunch that they probably weren't quite as awful as all the journalists made out, they just suffered due to high expectations based on the too-high price.

 

Actually with those white velour seats, that interior would have been quite nice!

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So, what are they underneath? I heard the engine was Fiat and the dashboard has a Fiat look to it as well. Any ideas what it is based on? Probably many parts of the running gear will be from other models

 

Didn't they use a Peugeot engine?

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From what I remember, the engine does indeed have some Peugeot heritage, but was developed in India, removing a direct link. They really aren't bad cars to drive once you get over the interior plastics.

As I understand it, it's derived from the 2.0 Indenor they used over here for the Tata Safari - they reduced the bore to make a 1.4 diesel (which a lot of Indica taxis in India use) then used the new block as the basis for the 1.4 petrol.

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These were a bit of a novelty at the time, for the sub £4000 price you couldn’t go wrong. When they were pitching them at £9000 or whatever though they were having a laugh. A mate of mine worked for Rover when they came out, he said they were really nippy but the clutch on them had all the gripping qualities of a banana skin so they had to replace a shit load of them.

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Actually they are a decent chunk of car and MGR dropped a massive bollock just by making them too expensive.

You could apply this to any RG/MGR car from the R8 onwards.

 

Rover's biggest mistake was assuming that their offerings were premium after the goodwill from the (genuinely upscale) R8 evaporated.

 

My R3 diesel was insanely dear new - like more than a well specified Golf - for a car with a very rough (but potent) diesel engine and sub Sochaux build quality.

 

Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but it wasn't worth the premium. The R3 was yet another arrogant cock up by Rover; a decent but massively overpriced Fiesta sized car priced a class above what it was actually worth. At least the 25 was correctly segmented - albeit still priced by crack pipe.

 

The CityRover might have sold if it had been extremely cheap; NAC should have done that with the TF 500 but no, it priced the fucker above a well-specced NB MX-5 1.8.

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The R8 wasn’t cheap though, it was however infinitely nicer inside than a Escort or Astra.

I never said the R8 was cheap. It was worth the extra at the time.

However, Rover then got it into its head that everything it made was a cut above and therefore pricier; market residuals never agreed, and, to be honest, the engineering wasn't worth the extra, either.

 

I remember thinking the R8 was in another league when my dad tried to get a 416 as a company car and couldn't because there were waiting lists. The R8 was the only Rover I remember there being queues for at the local Lookers.

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That’s terrific and the last time I saw a city rover was a yellow one without a straight panel being driven by a little old lady in Bexhill-On-Sea last year.

 

The old girl was trying to park it and was using it as a battering ram on the cars parked in front and behind and I said do you know you’ve just hit both cars and the reply I got was “that’s what bumpers are for” then she started having a go at me.

Bexhill-on-Sea has world class charity shops. People come on coach trips to visit them. Also the Art Deco DeLaWarr Pavillion.

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I think the last CityRover I saw is the black base spec one my friend's mum bought him as a present for finishing his PhD. It turns out the answer to the question 'how long do I have to drive this to be polite before I chop it in for an Astra' is 18 months.

 

'tis the thought that counts.....  :mrgreen:

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So, what are they underneath? I heard the engine was Fiat and the dashboard has a Fiat look to it as well.

 

From what I remember, the engine does indeed have some Peugeot heritage

 

Surely, like ALL Rovers they're Hondas underneath innit M8. And the engines are from beemers.

 

© any number of e-bay ads

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As I understand it, it's derived from the 2.0 Indenor they used over here for the Tata Safari - they reduced the bore to make a 1.4 diesel (which a lot of Indica taxis in India use) then used the new block as the basis for the 1.4 petrol.

Kind of but no Indenor ever had an OHC head like the Tata 2.0 diesel, I made a thread about this a while back because I'm sad.

 

It's good to see one of these being saved, they seem to have a good survival rate for an unliked orphan car but I guess that can only be sustained for so long as they dip into disposable car territory.

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Very underpromoted when new. Pricing they should have had range - cheapo City right up to a Plash type trim and Vitesse sports (sidestripes and a set of alloys?). Lots of sniping about the Tata link at the time - usual knocking of BMC/BL/Rover etc.  Now Range Rovers are big Tata's lol. Why was it not called Metro - I always thought that a coolish name. But City-Rover almost sounded like the start of a new el cheapo brand. Land Rover, Range Rover and errrr City Rover. Was that deliberate - Rover could have become City Rover under Tata?

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Kind of but no Indenor ever had an OHC head like the Tata 2.0 diesel, I made a thread about this a while back because I'm sad.

 

It's good to see one of these being saved, they seem to have a good survival rate for an unliked orphan car but I guess that can only be sustained for so long as they dip into disposable car territory.

The survival points to a modicum of quality surely?  These were on show at a motorway service area in a dealer display at the time I saw. I thought they were tidy little things. Better sold they might have worked. Did Tata turn down Rover for a merger or was it all about asset stripping the company by the Rover 4?

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Thanks for the kind comments. Refreshing to have so many measured and reasonable remarks made about it, to be honest!

 

If you take it for what it is, and try not to get too hung up on expectations of what a Rover should be, you'll find it to not be totally hopeless. You can debate the ins and outs of what marque they should have sold it as, and how much it should have cost for ever more. The end product and all the baggage that it brings is what makes it so interesting I find. It sums up all that was wrong at MGRover in those last couple of years.

 

To step back from it a little; I find the styling to be rather smart. So many city cars are over styled or just plan ugly. The comment of it being a car for the 1990's is bang on. It is considered India's first home grown car, launched in 1998... looking very much like our 2003 CityRover. Tata must have been over the moon to find a Western car brand happy to buy their six year old city car with barely a nip and a tuck to the styling. This generation of Indica managed a remarkable twenty years in production, only winding up earlier this year.

 

Back in the day, the CityRover was class leader in only one area; performance, thanks to that rather meaty 1.4 engine. Despite its name it is really rather thirsty in the City! You need to get it on to the motorway for decent fuel consumption figures.

 

...and finishing on the oval-shaped Rover badge on the steering wheel. We've come full circle (oval?) with that one. Back when Rover were on the rise to the glory years of the early 1990s, the steering wheel badges on the Rover 800 Mk1 and Rover 200 Mk1 were shaped to accept the Honda 'H' badge! ;-)

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A lot of the mainstream motoring press' views are fuelled by pure snobbery.

 

My girlfriend has a Suzuki Alto, it's been a faithful and well equipped steer. It cost buttons from a main dealer with, 18k miles, one owner, full history and manufacturers warranty remaining. To her, it's transport and she wants the minimum of fuss. It probably cost less than half of the equivalent VW up.

 

The Top Gear review gave it 1/10. Absolute nonsense. It's the equal of my C1 and by association, the Toyota Aygo, no such panning for their Japanese darling.

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Was the adventurous pricing because of the cost of getting it onto the UK market? I seem to remember the UK price of  the Hindustan Ambassador being about three times the Indian price.

My guess you are right. Once you have purchased a completed car you have to add a biggish margin. Pity prouction was not at Longbridge - put an Austin badge on...call it the new 7even. Alas it was a decade too late for that.

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The Top Gear review gave it 1/10. Absolute nonsense. It's the equal of my C1 and by association, the Toyota Aygo, no such panning for their Japanese darling.

 

I would have one of these over a C2 in a heartbeat.

 

A 1.1 base model C2 is the worst car i have ever driven, devoid of any redeeming features.

 

A cityrover has a bit of pep to it, there's something strangely appealing about it these days.

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Great to see one of these being preserved. I quite agree, they are what they are and form a vital and final piece of the Rover history.

 

Now, this could be complete fabrication by whoever told the story to a good friend of mine. My friend worked at Arnold Clark for 10 years and he said a fair few came into his workshop, straight off the boat, with coolant in the bores and required a new HG. Anyway, the story he was told about how the CityRover came to be was that some gents from Tata took some Rover Directors (or whomever) out on the piss and whilst intoxicated, the Rover chaps were persuaded to agree to/sign a contract. Exactly what that contract contained wasn't explained and it could be some level 12 horseshit, however my mate thought it was an interesting story.

 

Looking forward to some updates and fingers crossed to the MOT. I too have just realised its been some time since I last saw one!

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  • Austin-Rover changed the title to Tales of the TataRover (and friend; now with Agila content)

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