MG Rover’s first city car since the 1997 demise of the Rover 100/Metro hits the showrooms this month with prices starting at £6495.
The Indian-built CityRover features four trim levels, all powered by an 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine offering sprightly performance with 0-60mph dash in 11.9sec and a 100mph top speed.
Standard equipment on all models includes driver airbag, three-year/60,000-mile warranty and six-year anti-perforation cover. All but the base Solo model feature power steering, 60:40 split folding rear seats, remote central locking and CD player.
For £7895 there is the sporty Sprite or more luxurious air-conditioned Select, while the range-topping £8895 Style adds anti-lock brakes and passenger airbag. Just two solid paint schemes are offered, so most will have to opt for £295 optional metallic finish.
Closest rival to the Solo is Daihatsu’s talented £6495 Charade 1.0 EL five-door, which loses out to the CityRover’s 220-litre boot and is shaded in performance, but adds power steering, passenger airbag and improved economy. MG Rover quotes combined consumption of 37.9mpg to the Charade’s impressive 55.4.
Meanwhile, MG Rover has filed its full results at Companies House, revealing more secrets about the company’s financial health. It spent £78m on research and development last year, which covered preliminary work on the RD/X60 45 replacement, the CityRover, MG SV supercar and Streetwise. In the previous year it spent just £46m.
Indeed, last year’s R&D spend amounts to 4.5 per cent of turnover, higher than the industry average of three per cent. ‘In terms of design, engineering and feasibility, the real spend on the medium car will come when nominating suppliers and investing in tooling,’ warned a spokeswoman.
The accounts show a cash reserve of £315m, part of which is likely to be allocated to the 45 replacement, which is expected in mid 2005.