This is the new Roewe 550 saloon, the car that would have become the sorely-needed replacement for the Rover 45, if only its British maker had survived to see it. The Roewe 550 saloon was created from the intellectual property bought from MG Rover by SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) just before the UK maker collapsed in spring 2005. After the collapse, SAIC and Ricardo created a new company - Ricardo 2010 - to bring the designs to the market. These pictures of the Roewe 550 surfaced on Chinese specialist blogging 'site China Car Times on Tuesday. The car is based on the updated Rover 75 chassis that was under development at engineering consultancy Ricardo as part of a planned partnership between SAIC and MGR. Front and rear styling aside, sources say that is pretty much how the RDX60 medium Rover saloon would have looked.
The Rover that never was in detail
One of the chassis' distinguishing features was that it came in two wheelbases (this 4.6m-long 550 is the shorter, the already-revealed 750 the longer) and has a much higher rear deck than the Rover original. It also gets the same new Ricardo-developed interior as the 750. Sources in China say the Roewe 550 will be powered by a 1.8-litre, turbocharged, K-series engine. And there's still a chance this car and its bigger sister, the 750, will go on sale in the UK and Europe. Reports from China suggest that a merger between Nanjing, which bought the old MGR tooling and engine factory from Longbridge, and SAIC, the owner of Rover's intellectual property, is well progressed. Chinese authorities regard the possession of an established western car brand as a pre-requisite of export sales success, and they're thought to be keen that SAIC and NAC co-operate in production of the ex-MG Rover products. Although SAIC has a more up-to-date version of the Rover 75, Nanjing has the tooling to produce the K-series petrol engine and G-series diesel engine. Nanjing also has the advantage of owning the MG brand.