Roewe reveals reborn Rover 45

25 Apr, 2007 1:00am Sam Hardy

China's Ford Focus rival has been unveiled!

Set to reach UK shores in 2009, the compact family car was revealed by SAIC at the Shanghai Motor Show, and is the latest model to rise from the ashes of Rover.

Carrying SAIC's new Roewe badge - which we have already seen on a replacement for the Rover 75, known as the 750 - the company's latest model was displayed in the form of a concept car, called the W2.

The Focus rival - expected to be badged Roewe 450 when it appears on dealer forecourts - bears a close resemblance to the artist's impressions we showed you in Issue 949. Sticking to a four-door bodystyle with a chunky shape and a rising waistline, it has a distinctive look.

For the show model, SAIC's stylists have pulled out all the stops. They've added a new panoramic glass roof - which could become an option on the production version - metallic lilac paintwork and LED lights, all of which give the W2 real road presence.

The newcomer is the result of an Anglo-Chinese collaboration. Input has come from experts formerly employed by MG Rover working both for special engineering consultancy Ricardo 2010 in the UK and within SAIC in China, as well as from the manufacturer's own team in the Far East.

The W2 is the car that Rover would have launched to replace the ageing 45. It has been developed so quickly because SAIC has been able to carry on the work already started by the British company when it folded.

Under the skin, the model is based on a shortened version of the Rover 75 platform, and features a development of BMW's Z-axle system. Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels and with sus­pension tuned by ex-Rover and MG engineers, the W2 promises to provide a tempting blend of sporty handling and a comfortable ride.

Engine options will include a 1.8-litre turbo­charged petrol based on the Rover K Series powerplant. This delivers around 150bhp, while a 2.0-litre diesel - which complies with Euro IV emissions regulations - will provide a similar output. A hybrid drivetrain will also be offered, and all models are set to come with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

Inside, there's a two-tone dashboard made from tactile soft-touch materials. The quality of the finish is expected to rival that of mainstream European models, while the W2 gets some genuine design flair, such as the neat instrument binnacle, with its intricate dials. There's also a hi-tech touchscreen centre console for the audio, climate and sat-nav controls.

Although bosses are describing the newcomer as a concept, it's virtually showroom-ready. It's been des­igned to perform strongly in the latest Euro NCAP crash tests, including those for pedestrian protection. Production will begin at the end of this year, and it's scheduled to arrive in Europe in 2009, with prices starting from £14,500.

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