Rover's new 25 and 45 may not appear to be much more than updated, rebadged versions of the 200 and 400 - but their world debut at this month's London Motor Show is much more significant than it may originally seem. For the first time since it was bought by BMW, a clear Rover family identity is being established with a rational, well-positioned, good-value passenger car range.
The introduction of the 25 and 45 finally sees the end of Rover's confusing, ill-conceived 100/200/400/600/800 model lineup. This range featured a mixture of Rover and Honda-developed product lines which were too expensive and too small to succeed in many European markets.
The new cars adopt the 75's stylish front. Around 40 percent of the cars' components are new - with enhanced interiors, upgraded engines, redeveloped chassis, and safety improvements. The 25 will compete directly with the VW Polo and Peugeot 206, while the 45 goes up against the Opel Astra and VW Golf.
'There has been a strong infusion of 75 style and technology with the 25 and 45,' said Rover spokesman Nick Argent. 'Powertrain, electrical, safety and other features are directly derived from the flagship 75.'
Other debuts at the London show, which will open at Earls Court on October 19, include a mid-sized Hyundai minivan, the new Nissan Skyline GT-R, a special UK-specification Subaru Impreza developing 280hp, a production TVR Tuscan, and the Daewoo Mirae concept minivan/sportscar.
The biggest problem facing the London show this year is its timing. It comes just after the massive Frankfurt show, and coincides with the much larger Tokyo auto show.