MG Rover could sell a reworked version of Proton’s Gen2 hatchback by 2006, Autocar can reveal. Sized between the current Rover 25 and 45, the part-Lotus- engineered hatchback would replace the 45, and supplement the more upmarket new medium car planned for launch at the end of 2005.
MG Rover chief executive Kevin Howe, interviewed by Autocar at last week’s British Motor Show, said the company’s exploratory talks with the Malaysian maker meant ‘a plethora of opportunities have been narrowed down to a couple of vehicle projects.’
One of the possible car-swaps Rover is chasing is the just-launched Proton Gen2 five-door hatch, a Focus-class car, while the other would involve a project that is still under development, probably a supermini.
The decision ‘has to be brought to a conclusion within the next few months,’ Howe told us. He also revealed that the company has broadened the scope of the new medium-car project, codenamed RDX60, to include the development of a replacement for the six-year-old Rover 75.
If MG Rover and Proton decide to proceed, it could mean that the ageing MGR range will be revitalised, with a Focus-class car competing towards the lower end of that segment, or a supermini that would slot in above the Indica-derived CityRover to replace the Rover 25.
Though the Gen2 broadly competes in the same segment as the new medium car, it will supplement the RDX60, which is bigger and more substantially engineered than the Proton.
Longbridge is considering fresh front-end styling, including sheet-metal changes, and a revised rear end. The treatment is likely to draw on the design themes evident in the Rover TCV concept car (right). Our exclusive artist’s impression shows how sleek a ‘Roverised’ version of the Proton Gen2 could look.