MG Rover - Production stopped! - Phoenicks
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MG Rover - Production stopped! - smokie
To save everyone having to wait for the page to load, it says...

MG Rover suspended production at its Longbridge factory last week, following a slump in UK sales. Controversy following revelations of a £13m directors' pension fund are said to have caused sales to fall by almost 50 per cent in Britain during November, forcing MG Rover to halt the Longbridge lines for three days. Production of around 2000 Rover and MGs will be lost.

'All manufacturers do this sort of thing,' said a spokesman. 'Our policy is to carry relatively few cars in stock and to build to order where possible. Over-supply doesn't help us, our customers, or residual values.' Prior to this downturn, its sales had been holding up well in Western Europe, according to JATO Dynamics.

Though Rover sales have slumped 10 per cent, the stronger popularity of the sporty MG brand has compensated. In the UK, MGR's main market, sales are up nearly four per cent to 85,567 in the first 10 months of the year.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Dizzy {P}
I think the thing to note is the "slump in UK sales". As the man says, MG-Rover build most cars to order these days, and this end of the year is always quiet for new car sales. Likewise there won't be much call for pre-registered 'demonstrators' just now either.

I'd far sooner see the production lines stopped for three days than go back to the old times of fields full of new cars awaiting buyers.

Of course, the 'pension fund revelations' may also be a cause of the drop in car sales but, given the sensationalist truth-twisting that is so prevalent in journalism, I'm assuming 'innocent until proven guilty'.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Phoenicks
The question is would you not buy a car because of the directors alone? No. It would have to be something to do with the product foremost and first.

I think a mix of the directors behaviour and product standard would contribute to the lack of conviction and confidence in the product, but i doubt its the director reason alone.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
"I think a mix of the directors behaviour and product standard would contribute to the lack of conviction and confidence in the product, but i doubt its the director reason alone."

Then why according to the SMMT figures, MGR sales are up in the UK and Europe year on year when many car companies have experienced falling sales?

Incidentally, in that recent Driver Power survey, practically every MGR car was rated higher by its owners than VWs. Not to mention some excellent results in the Top Gear survey especially for the ZT.

I'd call that conviction and confidence in the product by the very people that own the cars. It's strange how so many people have a view not borne out by the facts especially those that don't actually own one of their products.

As far as the directors trust fund, these guys did not have any pension provision under the agreement when they bought the company, they currently have £3m each in this plan which in terms of director pension funds is comparatively a small amount for someone so senior.

Strange that after all the 'controversy' and 'scandal', no Government investigation (threatened) will take place. More interesting is the newspaper breaking the 'scandal' (that shall remain nameless) has one of its very senior executives under investigation for alledged illegal financial activity.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Lastly, MGR stop production lines quite often to destock, they don't like to hold large amounts of finished inventory. It looks very bad on balance sheets having experienced BMW doing this excessively when it was under their ownership.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Garethj
It's strange how so many people have a view not borne out by the facts especially those that don't actually own one of their products.


That's their battle though, they have to convince the people who would otherwise buy a different make of car to sell more and make money.

Tough battle, I hope they win it before they run out of money.

Gareth
MG Rover - Production stopped! - madf
I don't own a Rover car.. last I drove was an 800:-(((((


Would I buy one?
Stories of poor spares availability for NEW cars?



Directors appear to be ensuring their priorities are correct:-(


madf
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Phoenicks
A bit defensive 3500s dont you think?!!!

My repsonse was to the report on Autocar (if you actually read it) that it was due to the directors behaviour that stopped people buying the cars that is the 'apparent' reason there is a current production stoppage, whereas i thought it would be due to a mix of product and directors, not just the directors.

They have obviously stopped production for a reason, and most car manufacturers that stop productions is because the have unsold stock - not really a sign of someone having sales success is it?!
MG Rover - Production stopped! - king arthur
Don't believe everything you read - this figure of a 50% slump comes from mischievous reporting by one of the tabloids. The FT put the figure at 5%, far more believable. However, some dealers have apparently reported no such slump. We shall see in a couple of days courtesy of the SMMT.

It has been suggested that the real reason for the stoppage is to clear out stocks ready for the forthcoming face-lifted models.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - madf
30% fall according to FT
madf
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
Yes it would seem so for October's figures that these half-a***d stories have had some effect. Still, with new models and some positive news for a change, it could be reversed.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Flat in Fifth
Interesting that on an interview this evening on BBCR4 a director of a multi franchise car sales group was asked about this very subject.

Some intersting comments of his were that he thought the directors ought to go public and weren't helping the situation by keeping publicly silent even if internal communication was positive.

He admitted sales were down but was unable to verify the exact % because they didn't have a Rover dealership this time last year.

Significantly he stated though that the reduction in sales of MGRover cars was absolutely nothing compared to that being experienced by Citroën.

??!!??

MG Rover - Production stopped! - jc33
"Incidentally, in that recent Driver Power survey, practically every MGR car was rated higher by its owners than VWs. Not to mention some excellent results in the Top Gear survey especially for the ZT.

I'd call that conviction and confidence in the product by the very people that own the cars. It's strange how so many people have a view not borne out by the facts especially those that don't actually own one of their products."

How surprising [with a small degree of sarcasm] that the people who have bought one are expressing conviction and confidence in the brand. Why else would they have bought one? Surely it's the people who are yet to buy one that Rover needs to convince.

Remind me when the current shape Rover 200 (now 25) came out again? P reg was it? Or earlier. Dated is not the word.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - THe Growler
Looking, listening, reading about these things (and no one has ever heard of a Rover, let alone seen a picture of one where I live) would anybody seriously entertaining buying one?

Really -- I mean that as a serious question.

MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
"Remind me when the current shape Rover 200 (now 25) came out again? P reg was it? Or earlier. Dated is not the word"

Or the Pug 106.

Or the VW Polo (albeit reskinned).

Or the Corsa (reskinned as well).

Are they dated too?
MG Rover - Production stopped! - No Do$h
Or the Pug 106.
Or the VW Polo (albeit reskinned).
Or the Corsa (reskinned as well).
Are they dated too?


Yup, but at least the effort was made to remodel them and give them a fresh appearance. I hardly think the change from 200 to 25 can count as anything other than a bit of a wipe-over. You would be hard-pushed to spot the difference if a 25 and 200 were parked next to each other.

Then there the 400/45. Came out on the \"M\" Plate. I ran a 400 for a couple of years and whilst it offered value for money as a cheap purchase, the parts bills were horrifying.

BMW did their utmost to sabotage Rover when the left. The current incumbents are making an effort but they need to get the new models into production and fast if they are to survive. Stop-gaps like the City Rover are not going to do it for them.

I predict that by the end of this decade, MG Rover will be no more. It\'s sad and I don\'t wish it on them, but the market has spoken and I don\'t think the company has the grunt to overcome that.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Phoenicks
Please 3500S dont take this as an arguement, nor am i trying to stir things up, but i really, really would like to know what there is that is so defensible about Rover and their cars?

Their cars are mediocre at best. They seem to have been badly run for decades. Their latest offering (V8 excluded) the City Rover is, well to be quite frank, a complete dog with very little redeeming features. The cars are dating fast and depreciate like a new PC. I sense that you have an unswerving loyalty to them but dont ever admit that their cars are poor, nor say anything negative about them therefore evading a balanced point of view.

I'm just interested in what drives your rose tinted POV.

MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
Phoenicks,

You can't exclude the V8 and then say the cars are mediocre. How do know they are mediocre, mediocre to you?

Perhaps for four years they deserved their bad press probably around 1977 to 1981 they had a very hard time getting the militancy out and the working practices right. Rover themselves were never a large company, they made 4x4s and luxury saloons, after Jaguar was span off, it was perhaps the least tarnished name from the whole BL debacle and they inherited the whole sorry mess.

The company as a whole has been shoved from pillar to post, owned by British Aerospace (who did very little to invest in it) and then to BMW (who invested a great deal but were not big enough to sort it out). Many people where I come from remember the Honda-era very fondly as the company did very well and was learning a great deal.

It's easy to forget but Rover made several cars in the 1980s and 90s that were in the Top 10 best sellers. It was those cars that attract BMW to buy them.

The two biggest fallacies about Rover cars is they depreciate fast and they are unreliable. They depreciate no slower than comparable cars and they are no less unreliable than comparable cars. There are exceptions, some Rover cars (like the 75) depreciate much less than the competition, some depreciate more (like the old 800). In the case of some luxury cars, there are many fallacies, Mercedes and BMW never depreciate and Rover should be more like them. Well, these cars depreciate just as much, have their own faults but they also have models that are the exception.

Why the unswerving loyalty? Well, I come from the area where they are made, family friends worked at either Canley, Longbridge or Gaydon. One of my dads friends worked on T4. They aren't slovenly ignorant Brummies that the press likes to portray Rover workers, they are honest hard working people that like to make cars. They get frustrated when they can't get the right tools or an accountant reduces the quality of a component. They have a lot to be proud of like the racing pedigree of the K-series engine or designing a whole new saloon car and then winning 30+ awards for it. Problem is, they might as well be banging their heads against a wall, the press has its stereotype and they are sticking to it. Interestingly, you'll find more journalists based in the Midlands standing up for Rover than you would in London.

The problem with the perception of people and Rover cars is a) there perception is stuck in the 1970s b) they haven't actually thought to challenge that view.

It's strange but I like this real life analogy. VW install over 3 million faulty coil packs into their cars over many model lines affecting upwards of 750,000 cars all over the world. A serious fault and quality issue. MGR/Powertrain are accused of a quality issue with it's 1.8L K-series.

In all honesty, which one created the most media attention? Which one caused the most furore?

Now you see why some of us feel that the company is unfairly treated and some people who actually own the cars feel they are unworthy of the perhaps unfair press they get.

Finally, dated cars.

Aston Martin DB7 - great car - Jag XJS chassis.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Tony N
Interestingly, you'll find more journalists based in the
Midlands standing up for Rover than you would in London.


I think this is an extremely good point, and probably says a lot about the UK in general...
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Marc
Why won't MGR repair the blown head gaskets fitted to their K series engines?

Ford however will fix all those fitted to the Freelanders they inherited - good on them.

MGR aren't exactly rewarding their loyal customer base are they
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Marc
Rover didn't make the cars that were the best sellers. Honda did - the Ballade. Rover just rebadged them.

Unless you're talking about the Maestro and Montego. Neither of which was a massive sales success I gather.

The last success they had which was all their own work was the Metro of 1980. This soldiered on as the "Rover 100" until around 1997 didn't it?

BMW didn't buy Austin Rover for its cars. They wanted an economy of scale - presumably so they themselves wouldn't get swallowed up. It all went wrong. Austin Rover should have teamed up with Honda. Honda knew what it would have been getting itself into. Austin Rover didn't want to know. That's gratitude for you.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - king arthur
Please 3500S dont take this as an arguement, nor am i
trying to stir things up, but i really, really would like
to know what there is that is so defensible about Rover
and their cars?
Their cars are mediocre at best.


The 75 and ZT are not mediocre. The ZT260 has the kind of people who previously would not have considered an MG or Rover, hankering after it. The TF is Britain's best selling roadster. The ZS180 is most certainly not mediocre (it may look dated but you forget that when you're behind the wheel).

Things looked bleak in the later years of BMW's ownership, but with the new management in place there is something there worth defending. The difficulty is to forget what Longbridge once was, and try to imagine what it could be, with the right ingredients. Who can honestly say they would not be sad to see the end of the MG brand, if not the Rover one?
MG Rover - Production stopped! - madf
" Who can honestly say they would not be sad to see the end of the MG brand, if not the Rover one?"

Frankly I could not care less..

I owned Rovers when they were better quality than much of the opposition (16/90) and MGs once were the cheap sports cars..

Nowadays just an also ran.. all imo of course...
madf
MG Rover - Production stopped! - peterb
They're not *bad* cars, but they're nothing special. I test drove a 75 and I would have been fairly happy with one, except that competing offerings from Audi, Volvo, Lexus and BMW are so much more compelling. It wasn't that well built, either.

Mrsb fancied an MG-ZR but concerns over parts availability, the future viability of the business and poor build quality put me off.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Phoenicks
Their cars are mediocre - motoring journalists and the public agree - please tell me the last time a Rover won a Group Test by any major motoring magazine?

Regards Values, the 75 and the 3 series are a different class. Tell me why an 18k mile X Reg Rover 75 1.8 can be picked up (from a independent dealer) for about £8,500 but an 18k mile BMW 318 would cost at least £13k (again from an independent). There is a £3k difference in list price, so that is quite some gap.

With regards to the City Rover you defend it to the hilt but the car is, well, rubbish. I dont think i need to add the reasons why.

Also they dont exactly rank high in quality surveys (JF Power etc.)

I dont want it to fail though, just make better cars. Another british car manufacturer out the window isnt good.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - jc33
3500S, despite your admirable loyalty to the brand and the workforce of MGR, and whatever the underlying reasons for the current situation they're in, the facts are that (Tata aside as it's so new and it is yet to be proven how good or bad it is.) 2 out of 3 of the MGR range are approaching 10 years old. Ok, so they've had face-lifts but they are essentially the same cars.

I used to drive a lot of Rovers (around 1997) and will admit that the 200 was great to drive and the 400 was good too. But that doesn't mean they can get away with never bringing out a new model.

I also believe the 75 is a good car although I've never driven one, but the top-end model costs over £27K. I can't see many people in that market choosing a 75 over a BM or a Merc, or even a VW to be honest.

One last thing - the changes they made to make the standard models into the ZR, ZS and ZT frankly they should be ashamed of. The MG 'Z' range looks like it's straight out of Southend sea-front (home to the Max-Power brigade). Especially the 75/ZT. This is a refined looking, 'middle-aged' car. I cannot think of a vehicle less suitable to having a spoiler bolted to its boot lid or a skirt and big alloys glued on. To me this car says mid life crisis. Rant over.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Tony N
One last thing - the changes they made to make the
standard models into the ZR, ZS and ZT frankly they should
be ashamed of. The MG 'Z' range looks like it's straight
out of Southend sea-front (home to the Max-Power brigade). Especially the
75/ZT. This is a refined looking, 'middle-aged' car. I cannot think
of a vehicle less suitable to having a spoiler bolted to
its boot lid or a skirt and big alloys glued on.
To me this car says mid life crisis. Rant over.


Judging by the increasing ratio of sales of MGs to Rovers it seems alot of people would disagree...
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Stuartli
The fact that MG Rover was going onto short term working was well publicised a few weeks ago, including the fact that the workforce was not happy with the situation.

Rover's designs are too outdated now - the 214 and 216 first saw the light of day in 1989 - although the 75, at least the ones I have been in, seem miles ahead of the old 800 Series, especially for interior ambience and splendid ride.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Welliesorter
the 214 and 216
first saw the light of day in 1989...


That would have been the old model, similar to the Honda Concerto. The current 25 is an original Rover design and not quite that old. I seem to remember seeing a documentary about Rover a few years ago. Apparently Rover people had a particular fondness for the present 25 because it had been developed before the BMW takeover but with little or no input from Honda.

Remember those annoyingly smug Englishman in New York ads when it first appeared?
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Stuartli
True; in actual fact Rover built the Honda Concerto on the same Longbridge production lines as the 200 Series.

I saw them being built on one visit (use to be a motoring correspondent) along with the Mini.

But the basic Rover small car shape has changed very little over the years and has been fighting a losing battle with other manufacturers' regularly updated models.

Shame as the Rover brand use to stand for traditional British values and luxurious interiors.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
I think many posters have demonstrated what I've been trying to say.

It's down to perception.

Firstly, Phoenicks, BMW never wanted a 3-series to compete with a 75 or vice-versa. Firstly, a 75 is precisely inbetween a 3-series and a 5-series in size. A 3-series has a sportier ride and also RWD, the 75 is a cruiser (incidentally voted second for ride quality behind a Jag XJ in the Driver Power survey) and FWD.

You can't compare them. Sure compare them against other FWD cars like say a Laguna or Passat, both competitor cars in that segment and the owners have consistently rated the 75 as the better car.

Secondly, the engines, yes there was a problem with HGF with the early 1.8K's pre 2000 incidentally during BMW ownership and Powertrain introduced a number of measures to secure the reliability of the engine. As a result it is the still the premier engine of choice for a number of other manufacturers most noticably the Lotus Elise, Exige and 111S. There are race versions that have proved time and again their reliability. If an engine experiences HGF outside of warranty then you show me one manufacturer that would fix it on goodwill? Interestingly Ford said they would with the Discovery and that's only to deflect on the worseing quality of Land Rover's cars since BMW/Ford took charge. That is undeniable, the Disco is a badly made car yet they still sell. Image over substance perhaps?

Thirdly, the body-kitted 'Z' cars. They aren't just body kitted, they have revised suspension geometry, engine modifications, they have the steering reponse sharpened, they have larger engines, the ZS 180 has a 2.5L V6 shoehorned in. In the case of the ZT260 it has a completely re-engineered floorpan and more automotive names than you can shake a spanner at.

I agree, the 45 needs replacing but look at the decisions made by BMW to replace the newish 600 and the oldish 800 with the 75. Everyone knew the 45/Domani car should be replaced first but BMW were loathed to pay the royalties to Honda for the 600.

There was also a lot of work done on the 45 replacement which BMW refused to let Phoenix have during the handover. This was work that was paid for on the Rover balance sheet, performed all at Rover but they denied it to them. Sour Grapes? Or maybe they wanted the FWD technology for the 1-series, you decide.

All the so-called 'experts' only perhaps one person (Dr. Garel Rhys) said they could survive, the rest of the London based 'intellesgia' said they wouldn't last a year. Well, four years later and they are still there, it's true the next two years will be vital for their survival. They surprising everyone with the quality of their cars (which has substantially risen since BMW left), their survey results are remarkable (MGR was the most improved manufacturer in Driver Power and well ahead of VW) and they are looking to finally break even financially, oh, and to shamelessly wave the flag, they are a 100% British owned firm.

Lastly, with perception, I've championed Rover cars for a number of years (I drive a 3500S more out of childhood memories) and I've got it in the neck for years since I've had that when I was 25 and owning two 600s and a 75 in the meantime and I'm only 32.

I've encountered a lot of badge snobbery and rather than engage in personal vanity over substance, I'd drive a Rover every time. They are honest cars, made by decent people who believe in values that are just not fashionable. I'd rather raise a motoring middle finger by not being cool than go with the herd. For me, a Rover is an individual's car driven by people unafraid to be different.

Strange because a 3500S is now consider a cool car. As for a 75, well, that wins new friends all the time.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
And to Marc,

Austin Rover had no choice in the deal, it was British Aerospace that wanted out, they could not afford the re-investment. British Aerospace did not give Honda any notice of its intention. Also BMW wanted that company so badly, it increased its offer twice over 48 hours, Honda felt offended they were never given first refusal. Personally, I'd rather see a Rover as a posh Honda than a poor-man's BMW. It fits more with Rover brand, Rover was never that so upmarket.

Bearing in mind what BMW got their hands on... MG, Rover, Triumph, Riley, Mini. They bought the entire rights to use practically any name from British automotive history and the ability to make 750,000 cars, 4x4 technology, FWD technology, small car technology. Not bad for £700 million.

What they found when they bought the company was a litany of under-investment over 20 years. They didn't make the situation any better by introducing the 'BMW' method of manufacture which does not lend itself to more modern methods as it really is something stuck in the stone age. They also picked the wrong cars to redevelop, spend too much time interfering on one product and not enough on another. Munich engineers did not get on with the Rover ones and the BMW board were constantly in-fighting with each other costing all the warring factions their jobs. Not to mention the Quandt family's horror at red ink everywhere. To say it was a mess is a huge understatement, how BMW managed to remain independent was a minor miracle and how MGR managed to stay in business was a major miracle.

It seems now any bit of 'minor' news is a calamity waiting to happen.

Did you know for example that Ford's massive debt was rated as little more than junk last week. Now that's news, Ford are in such serious trouble that if one major creditor calls time, Ford will have to file for Chapter 11 and also it will struggle to meet its pension provision if it was wound up. Yet no one has reported that.

Yet four directors in a small car company go into business with a bank to run a profitable company that will earn them a pension is described as a shady deal.

Like I say, perception and also, you have to question who is reporting the news.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
And really finally,

The ZR is the country's biggest selling hot hatch. As for the ZT, well, read the Telegraph, it is a seriously highly rated bit of kit.

The badge snobs can buy a BMW or a Merc, the MG Rover tent is a broad one and I don't mind the Southend mafia driving ZR's whilst I drive my 75. We clearly appreciate their qualities that are lost on everyone else.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - Stuartli
Honda did want to take on Rover but was not willing to become the main owner, preferring it to remain a major UK company, and hold only just under 50 per cent of the shares.

BMW wanted it because it had previously worked with Land Rover very harmoniously; LR had lined up the then new BMW 2.5-litre diesel to go into its Discovery, but work had to be done to boost torque levels for offroad vehicles and the two companies' engineers collaborated on the project.

As a result BMW saw the potential if it could get its hands on LR's 4x4 drive expertise. but was not really interested in taking on the whole Rover Group.

In the end, however, it finished up with the Rover Group for a sum of £720m - a figure that it would happily have paid for Land Rover alone.

Being straddled with Rover around BMW's corporate neck did not go down well with the German's shareholders, who resented the escalating financial cost, and it was no surprise when BMW worked its way out of the situation in what proved a very satisfactory outcome for the company.

MG Rover - Production stopped! - Welliesorter
>>... a 3500S is now consider a cool car.

Wasn't that shape Rover used in the 1997 film Gattaca because it was considered looked futuristic? Not bad considering it was designed in the sixties.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - 3500S
Yes, they were the cop cars NADA P6 3500s painted black. Most of the settings were Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and featured DS Decapotable's, Facel Vega's, P6's and even a Studebaker.

Niccol is interviewed in the Special Edition DVD and he said that he deliberately wanted the set to look timeless and chose real post-modernist buildings rather than large sets because they are still the best examples of what the future might look like.

Bit like in the same way the Matrix used those big Cadillac Coupe De Ville's.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - pd
The problem with most of Rover?s range is the age of the designs and the lack of any meaningful way to replace them. The 75 was/is a decent car and has actually sold reasonably well, as has the ZT based on it. Even that, however, needs replacement by 2006/7 ? has development started on a new model? I very much doubt it.

The 25 is a facelift of a reskin of the 1989 Rover 200 / Honda Concerto. The 45 is a light facelift of a mediocre 1995 car based on an early 90?s Japanese market car (Honda Domani if I recall correctly).

None of the cars are ?bad? in the old fashioned sense. All are as well built as anything else and all stop, start, go round corners and do general car like things. The problem is that all cars do this and a car purchase is as much a fashion choice these days. There is absolutely no compelling reason to buy a 25 or 45 over any of their more modern competitors. Sadly, I can see the 75 ending up like the 800 even if MGR survive ? in 2012 it?ll still be churned out in ever decreasing numbers and sales just like the 25/45 are now.

The 400 failed in the market place in 1995 (Rover Group as was invested in tooling for production of up to 200,000 units a year at Longbridge and they never got close) because it was competent but dull and not outstanding. Its competitors have been replaced TWICE since then. The 1996 200 was not an all new car ? it was a reskin. It wasn?t even planned originally to have a new dashboard ? it was only because it was as expensive to re-engineer the old 200/Concerto dash to take a passenger airbag as design a whole new one that it got a new design.

MGR are in a viscous circle of ever ageing designs leading to year on year sales drops, leading to less income, leading to even less money to finance new models. Pretty much the maximum cycle life is now 7 years, plus possible re-use of a platform so say, 14 years per platform.

I?d like to see MGR prosper but to do so they somehow have to get out of the cycle of decline they?ve been in for years with lack of investment. I just can?t see where the money is going to come from.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - peterb
"The 400 failed in the market place in 1995...."

Thanks in large part to a misguided premium pricing policy which pitched it up against much larger cars like the soon-to-be-released Mondeo instead of more natural competitors in size terms like the 306 and Corolla.

Sadly, they're making the same mistake with the City Rover.

I agree with 3500 that they are good at sorting and improving existing cars (eg the MG Z models). But that isn't enough for long-term survival.
MG Rover - Production stopped! - No Do$h
I was Business Manager for a Rover Dealership when the 400 was launched. We were told to expect a premium product (and in 4 door guise - launched the following year - it looked the part). What we were expecting was a direct replacement for the old civic/ballade 200/400 in size and price. What we got was old 200/400 in size and a price to pitch against the Mondeo. Then, a year later, they launched a Metro replacement (remember that cars were and still are increasing in size within each class so Metro is a fair comparison) and pitched the price against the Escort.

We were a tad peturbed at this.

History goes on to prove that the initial pricing was a total joke. A classic example would be the 96 416SLi Auto I picked up in 99 for under £4k that had set someone back over £17.5k just three years earlier. Back in late '96 I had moved on from Rover to Commercial Union and the 200 and 400 appeared on my company car list.

I chose a Civic.

The current pricing is much more honest, but how many customers were lost because of the initial bullish approach?

 

Value my car