Roewe officially unveil new upmarket saloon
1 April 2008

SAIC’s Roewe division was one of the undisputed stars of this year’s Beijing motor show with the unveiling of its eagerly anticipated 550 – the spiritual successor to the Rover 400. It was previewed as a concept car at last year’s Shanghai motor show and based on a modified version of the front-wheel-drive Rover 75 platform originally developed by BMW during the mid-1990s. The new saloon was developed by Chinese-based ex-Rover employees working in co-operation with British engineering consultancy Ricardo. The 550 will headline Roewe’s push into selected world markets early next decade. While there was no official word on possible UK sales of the 550, Roewe top brass confirmed to Autocar that plans are underway for a right-hand-drive version. Engines include updated versions of Rover’s old 1.6 and 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol units, alongside a newer, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel. SAIC recently denied claims that plans to produce the MG TF at Rover’s former Longbridge plant had been canned, saying pilot production of the ageing mid-engined roadster was due to begin next month.The company says it is also looking at Longbridge for the production of other models, including perhaps the 550, in the longer term. Meanwhile, SAIC confirmed that plans to set up an MG production facility in North America have been placed on hold.

Greg Kable

Go to the next Beijing motor show article.

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