Rover 200 25 MG ZR History

22 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Rover 200 25 MG ZR History

The cars. Rover 200/25 and MG ZR

as a Metro replacement, on a shoestring and a whole host of carry-over the re-born Rover 200 should possessed all the appeal of a damp in the Lake District.

However, to clever packaging and classy it was really rather good shame, though, that it was overpriced at launch#8230;

Chrome prestige?

By 1995, Rover was a car company on the up and up. The stylish 600 had demonstrated Gordon Sked’s design could turn the rather Honda Accord into a elegant looking car. for some observers, however, the model, the 400 did not look nearly enough from is Honda to stop some commentators muttering ominous noises the fact that independence at was now in the past and that their now lay in re-chroming Honda products.

doomsayers did not count on the projects Rover had been feverishly on since the late Eighties, of the first had appeared in February the MGF. Secondly there was the to replace that most of cars, the Rover Metro.

even before the R6 Metro on the roads, Rover strategists that it was going to live a shorter life than its In their eyes, there was no way the car could not: no matter how it was, using its new K-Series and reinvigorated Hydragas suspension, the and therefore its internal packaging by 1990, some fifteen old. All rivals within the market were now significantly and the little Metro could not to compete in the class that it called its own.

Rover’s plan to replace the Metro was drawn up in late 1990 – and it on a plan to build a Honda, superficially modified as had been the with the Rover 600 before it. on from the SK1/SK2 naming the new Rover badged Honda be called the SK3, but the skids soon put under the plan, the full cost implications of the were realised by British

Rover needed a larger right at the upper end of the supermini – and an alternative plan would to be devised. Unlike the HHR Theta, at the time was being drawn up by Honda, it was always intended any car designed to replace the Metro be entirely British. Following on the ill-fated SK3, the company casting around for new ideas on how to the R6, and the conclusion was rapidly reached the cost of developing an entirely new was out of the question – BAe were controlling the of the company and because Rover still unable to generate the profits that their expected of them – so, adapting an platform was the only feasible

With this proviso – and the that Rover only one modern mid-sized platform, the R8 – the was quickly reached: the new car would to be based on the existing car. Of given the all round competence of the R8 its class, this was hardly as a drawback.

By May 1991, project R3 was approved to go development – and the Metro’s replacement began a rapid gestation. that the project was given a limitation of £200 million that of the £275 million of the back in 1980), Rover changed their plans for the small car.

This was a very interesting phenomenon was place on the market place, had literally taken the company by that was the unexpected sales of the R6 Rover Metro. Soon, figured that to maximise opportunities on the marketplace, the R3 should be slightly upmarket – away the Ford Fiestas of this and nearer to the Golf and Escort

Certainly, given the styling of the 600 and the fact that the new car was already as a stylish model in clay, it would be the ideal vehicle to the “premium” branding values of the giving people the option to buy a Rover instead of a more Ford or VW. So the new car was quickly moved its initial 1990 role of replacement to a car that would the Metro and also take from lower models in the R8 range.

The HHR would look the job of replacing the top of 200/400 models; but importantly, Rover could now see moving away from competition with their offering up a range of small to cars that offered different, whilst (in the interests of BAe and shareholders) commanding a higher premium. With this in marketing and development focus, the was renamed the R3.

Concept car looks always the plan for the R3 – the fact that the car depicted in this rendering by David Saddington a “Rover 100” badge the implied market niche for car. (Picture supplied by Davis)

During May and June David Saddington worked on his shape for the new car – in his mind, the R3 needed to not only to traditional Rover but also to the younger generation of buyers that above demanded style as well as in their car. As Saddington stated, acknowledging the elegance of the Rover 600, “We knew the 600 was a good looker so there was to work with. The challenge was its inherent British “Roverness” and the boundaries to encompass a younger

Certainly, Saddington and his team of stylists produced bold in double quick time – and the majority of the company’s design a Canley were involved in the of the MGF and HHR, the R3 style was very the product of a small and focussed The fact that the R3 was constrained by the that it was built on a slightly version of the R8 platform did not cause any for the team, because, apart being stuck with the car’s (low) scuttle and overhang, the platform was remarkably

The project was certainly beginning to some excitement within the because, essentially, the R3 was emerging as a British design, with no influence, whatsoever. After of an increasingly all-pervading Honda it was certainly a culture shock to and plan a car for themselves, without to consider the wishes of an increasingly technical partner.

So, it is with some irony, Saddington plumped for a swoopy, coupe style design, many design features of that most Japanese of the 600. It has to be said, that it was a call to make, because the around the trim proportions of the car, these cues very successfully.

Initial scale model shows how uncorrupted the R3 was by the development process. picture shows that as as June 1991, the shape and of the detailing was clearly defined. supplied by Kevin Davis)

By 1991, a quartet of quarter-scale models were produced barring a few minor details, the finished concept. As Saddington concluded about this fertile period in the car’s “It happened very quickly but the were all there.

We had good and rear tracks, lots of shape to visually shorten the overhang and balance the short rear, and a sporty, almost profile.” Clearly very with the R3 design, management the car for the next stage of its development and instructed the construction of a full-sized model of the best design. By 1991, this process was and Saddington used the clay sell the design to various parties, both internal production engineers) and external customers) to Rover. It was soon that the R3, although very more avant garde the existing R8, did not prove to be the headache perhaps it might have for the production engineers, even in the form presented – and once were satisfied, the model was to gauge the reaction of the buying

R3 as viewed from Saddington’s perspective: Low nose, squat and tail end were complemented by the formed glasshouse. The rear certainly looked overly in 1991, but by the time of the car’s in November 1995, the decision to with them was vindicated by the that just about other manufacturer was going the way. (Picture supplied by Davis)

Certainly, the reaction the clinic was positive – and it was all the encouragement Rover needed that were on track for a remarkable of the range as a whole, by the end of 1995. Now the exterior design had proven in clinics and with the engineers, needed to take stock of the

The trouble was that although the R3 was a remarkably complication-free gestation, the were also required to on many other projects – and has traditionally been the case Rover and its antecedents, they did not have the resources to work on any of parallel projects. In October the point at which the first clay model was produced, the were also working on the cars: MGF, Rover 400 and saloon model which was to Rover), Rover 600 (nearing variations of the R8, including the Tomcat and Tracer cabriolet – and Pathfinder, would eventually evolve the Land Rover Freelander. had to give, and although the exterior of the R3 was frozen and signed-off for production in May the company made the decision to put the development on hold for six months, the advancement of the other designed in

In the six month hiatus in the development between May and November 1992, knuckled down to their ongoing projects, but the company was that the R3 was far from …, if it may have appeared that way at the Saddington ensured that minutiae of the project was recorded for its re-start. Of course, the official touted by Saddington was that the had advanced quickly and that the did had no adverse effects on the R3 team at but of course, there was a degree of at the time, especially given it appeared that the were to give way to the very Japanese

One of the first full-size R3 clay shows that the frontal was still subject to some development. The final solution shows an evolution from the hand side depiction on the model. As can be seen in the later there was still a distinct of chrome at the front. (Picture by Kevin Davis)

As in the case of the which also was subjected to a in its development programme, the six month in development meant that new appeared (namely the Peugeot in particular) which forced to up their game and make a of late-programme changes, which would not have happened had the R3 an uninterrupted development.

Initial for the R3 were to use the existing R8 dashboard over unchanged. This again, was taken because of factors, but when the company to add a passenger airbag as an option, it was that it would not fit in the existing without significant modification. The of designing a new dashboard was no greater – so, a new moulding was adopted

Rear was also to be carried over from the R8, but given the excellence of the new 306, Rover decided the adoption of a new H-frame torsion was essential to remain competitive on the

If it seems puzzling that should be designing the R3 to be competitive the larger Peugeot 306, it was designed as a supermini-class competitor, it is Rover were now intent on the car into the next market – and it accordingly.

Where did that the company in the lower parts of the Rover decided late in the day to the R6 in production for as long as it made sense for them to do so – now that it was well… the market was shifting again, the R3 would find in the larger end of the supermini market, the R6 it in what the marketers were now the “sub-B class”.

The marketing department at Rover now going into overdrive and 1993 they formulated 1995 plan. The R3 would be used to replace the lower in the old Rover 200 range, but the pricing be pushed further upmarket, from the mass end of the market. One adjustment made towards the end of the R3 to reflect this push was instigated by BMW: the liberal use of for the grille.

There were two for this: the styling treatment was redolent of Munich’s own, but the chrome was considered to add a little class to the youthful new design.


1994, the R3 was to be named the Rover 100 (as the R6 had overseas), but with the emphatic upmarket came a new name – 200 – the fact that the R3 was now viewed as a Golf class competitor. were two reasons for this – Rover were very in the design and engineering quality of the R3 and that it would easily against the Volkswagen Golf and 306, despite its less generous accommodation. Market had shown that younger Rover were aiming at not so concerned with rear room, as much as boot – and so it was thus: the R3 was given a commodious in to a large rear seat.

increased prices meant profits and Rover were all generating profits during the “We’re not looking for volume with the new 200, so we’re not chasing the opposition”, said at the car’s launch on the 29th 1995.

Rover were confident of the success that the new 200 achieve – and it definitely showed in the of the new car: not only above the rivals the car was conceived to fight, but higher than its Golf rivals, too. John reflected the company’s newfound by stating that the pricing of the car was right, and that if the company’s UK share dropped as a result, it please him, as it would capacity to increase sales in markets, whilst maintaining UK

Rover’s reputation with had improved since the late on the back of the success of the previous 200 and a improved dealer network – he to build on this by ensuring that a perceived move resulted. Towers put it in these “If you ask a Ford driver what drive, by and large they say, ‘I drive a Ford’. will say they drive an Fiesta, Scorpio or whatever.

Ask a driver the same question and he or she simply say, ‘I drive a The marque is more important the model. This is where I Rover to be: right now we’re on the where our customers will ‘I drive a Rover 214’.”

The article: At launch the 200 was the first mass market Rover in a decade: unlike the previous one – the Montego – there was little to the styling of the new car for. This was the top of the range 200Vi, although you never know by looking at it.

When launched, the 200 was available in 1.4 and K-Series engined versions, of which received minor in order to extract a little power. The 1.4-litre version was from an already impressive to 102bhp, which compared favourably with the 90bhp of the Ford Escort and Peugeot In engineering terms, the Rover 200 had these rivals more matched.

In addition to the “cooking” there was also a 2.0-litre powered diesel version rapid, if a little unrefined) and the top of the Vi model.

The Vi was Rover’s take on the GTi but unlike the rest of the opposition, it visually unmodified compared the rest of the range, apart a subtle lowering of the suspension and wheels and tyres. At the heart of the new car lay the VVC of the 1.8-litre K-Series engine in the newly launched MGF. The allowed for the infinite adjustment of the valve timing, which low-end torque as well as top end

Imagine it as a lower budget, but effective version of Honda’s system – resulting in a more adequate 143bhp power Ironically, the specific output of the was a somewhat less impressive at 79bhp/litre, than the standard 214 at However, the Rover 200Vi up for its power deficit compared its GTi rivals, by being appreciably than all of them.

New dashboard was a welcome addition to the R3 programme: the of this can be seen in this – the 200 possessed a bang up-to-date which would have not possible using the existing R8

Autocar magazine tested the against rivals from and Alfa Romeo and came impressed, the performance, thanks to its weight, being particularly “In reality, it’s the Rover proves easily the swiftest to an unlikely secret weapon – its Throw in the Vi’s close-ratio and its low overall gearing and it becomes an that it is going to sprint the The road test also the Rover a winner almost reservation, which was a new phenomenon for the as they did not have a particularly record in the hot hatchback market. “So the 200 Not because it is any more fun than the or more user friendly the Ford, but because it more blends all aspects important to a hot hatch in a classy shape is beautifully made. All it lacks, as is space.”

Rover’s 200 BRM, in 1998 attempted to add some appeal to the more than 200Vi model: external were dominated by the bright air intake at the front of the car, redolent of the ‘Sixties BRM Le Mans cars. It is debatable whether the that this car was aimed at remember such things. changes comprised of lowered a close ratio gearbox and (torque sensing) differential.

The interior was enlivened by swathes of red and chrome detailing. Sales limited to a run of 750 examples, although has it that the BRM models were to be badged as MGs – to form the basis of a of sporting Rovers, until BMW put a to the plan. (Picture supplied by Davis)

Interestingly, the company’s was for the performance version of the 200 to be called the like the MGF, but when the badges were made up, the with “200 WC” was too close for

Certainly, the new 200 impressed the testers and the made by Autocar magazine up this impressive, but flawed “The new 200 has enough ability and than enough charm to not to fall victim to ill-advised It offers a genuinely attractive and more able alternative for bored with the predictable Escort/Vauxhall Astra mainstream and at a that seems high on initial acquaintance.

And in the face of new rivals such as the Renault and FIAT Brava, the Rover is set to and compete well. Of its opponents, the Peugeot 306 with its impeccable clever packaging and great is an unapproachably better car. so, the Rover still manages to ask questions of the 306’s powertrain and quality than I’d imagine would care to answer.

I however, about the limited space. It shouldn’t undermine an otherwise fine product but it might. Wonderful this may be; fair it ain’t.”

Rover that sales of the 200 began but as John Towers rather predicted, its price did prove to be a to sales; most buyers to understand the message that tried to deliver with the As far as buyers were concerned, the 200 was an class competitor and a cramped to boot.

Plus, the benefits of the 200’s advanced K-Series with its high specific were largely lost to the man in the engine size mattered – and a car was always going to be a better bet a 1.4, even if it were powerful. Rover soon on to this way of thinking – and badged all cars by their “series” instead of the more precise way they had done in the past “Rover 214Si” became “Rover 200”). It probably that the system also Rover that bit further BMW.

As reported by the SMMT, the of the Rover 200 remained a level its early life #8211; and can be no denying the fact that the purchase price of the car was hampering as well as fleet sales. The problem for Rover was that its class, the Rover 200 was not the only branded hatchback: the Volkswagen maintained an unassailable lead in department.

Rover 200: UK

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