09 November 2012

BOTTLED IT!: Rover CityRover

As motoring muck ups go, the CityRover certainly goes down as one of them. It was a wasted opportunity. But what made it such a monumental flop?

MG ROVER were in need of new cars in their line up. The CityRover was Rover's new car pitched in the City Car segment. To compete with the likes of the Ford Ka, the Fiat Panda and the Kia Picanto.

MGR were short of cash and entered partnership with Indian car giant, Tata. So they bought in Tata Indicas at a low price to sell for a profit. Which were given a mild makeover and re-badged as a Rover.

The CityRover was a practical small car with five doors and amples of space for its size. It was only available with one engine, with a rather nippy 1.4 litre, 84PS Peugeot sourced unit that powered the range. The relatively big engine under for a car in its sector meant it was pretty surefooted and gave plenty of performance.

One of the very reasons the CityRover wasn't a success was its price when new. Rover also charged more money for a CityRover at around £7,000. Rivals were cheaper and offered more equipment for the same price or less. The patchy build quality didn't help either, and that convinced many buyers that it wasn't worth parting their money for one.

People who are in the market for a tiny little runaround like a CityRover want a car that's nippy, practical, unpretentious, easy to drive and park. Above all else, cheap, as many cars are bought by people with their own money. So they'll want to get their money's worth.

Buyers thought Rover was being greedy and arrogant. To add insult to injury, was that Rover got bad press for price and quality of the CityRover. That would have influenced a lot of buyers' decisions not to buy one, and they stayed away in droves.

The CityRover wasn't a bad car. If Rover piled the CityRover high and sold them cheap with some marketing and a press launch of the product. The outcome could have been so much different. By turning round profits, and it could have been the car that could have potentially saved MG Rover.

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