Rover CityRover - the worst cars ever
The end of MG Rover was comprehensively hastened by the launch of the CityRover, a small car with few redeeming qualities
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While the Allegro and Marina were symptomatic of the British car industry of the Seventies, in some ways the CityRover became a poster child for the demise of MG Rover in the Noughties. The supermini could have helped to turn the firm around, but in reality it was too little, too late for the company.
Like the Alfa Romeo Arna, the CityRover was produced out of necessity by a company with limited resources to build a new car from scratch. In this instance, MG Rover needed a new supermini to slot in below the Rover 25, and in essence be a spiritual successor to the Austin/Rover Metro. With no obvious options from Europe, MG Rover looked to the East, and the Indian-built Tata Indica looked to fit the bill.
Agreements were drawn up, and in 2003 Tata's production line in Pune began assembling CityRovers. The only differences between the CityRover and Indica was the Rover grille and badges, while different suspension settings were added under the skin. Power came from a single engine, an 85bhp 1.4-litre petrol from Peugeot, which limited the car's appeal, although of bigger concern to buyers was the car's starting price at just under £7,000.
Even though the Rover badge carried some prestige, buyers weren't convinced by the CityRover's poor quality. The Indian-market Indica had already been in production for five years when the CityRover was launched, too, so it felt dated even as it first appeared in showrooms.
The reviews weren't very favourable, either. Poor quality, modest performance and vague handling all counted against the CityRover, especially as it was priced so highly. MG Rover was so concerned with avoiding negative publicity that it refused to lend a car to the Top Gear TV show. Instead, presenter James May, who was little known at the time, went undercover at a Rover dealer to secretly review one on a customer test drive.
MG Rover must have known it was on a hiding to nothing: an update in 2004 saw prices dropped by £900, but by then the damage had been done, and the writing was on the wall for the company as it finally went bankrupt in 2005.
And the CityRover wasn't revived when Chinese firm SAIC brought MG back to the UK. Instead, it introduced the all-new MG3, a decade after the CityRover first hit showrooms.
Top 10 worst cars ever
- 1IntroductionWe go in search of cars that are unreliable, ugly and rubbish to drive, but only one can be crowned ‘worst car ever’
- 21. REVA G-WizThe term ‘car’ is being generous to the G-Wiz. It had the performance of a sleepy vole and the structural integrity of your slippers
- 32. Austin AllegroA worst car classic, the Austin Allegro provokes nostalgic smirks from those who remember it and fits of furious anger from past owners
- 43. Chrysler PT Cruiser ConvertibleA ghastly chunk of retro automotive Americana foisted onto the UK market, the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible was as bad as it looked
- 54. SsangYong RodiusClearly designed last thing on Friday during a power cut, the SsangYong Rodius is one of the oddest-looking machines of the modern era
- 65. Alfa Romeo ArnaAlfa Romeo and Nissan joined forces to create the Alfa Romeo Arna, and both should be ashamed of themselves
- 76. Rover CityRover - currently readingThe end of MG Rover was comprehensively hastened by the launch of the CityRover, a small car with few redeeming qualities
- 87. Morris MarinaThe Morris Marina is that rare thing, a truly bad car that was a sales success. There’s no accounting for taste
- 98. Reliant RobinThe butt of countless jokes, the Reliant Robin was missing more than a wheel and will be remember as one of the worst cars ever
- 109. FSO PolonezA poster child for communist cars in the UK, the FSO Polonez was Eastern Bloc austerity made metal
- 1110. Vauxhall FronteraAn early crossover SUV, the Vauxhall Frontera was ahead of its time in some ways, but horribly behind in others