LONDON - The new Rover 25 and 45 sedans may not appear to be much more than updated, rebadged versions of the 200 and 400, but their world debut at last week's London Motor Show is significant.
For the first time since it was bought by BMW AG, the Rover Group is establishing a clear family identity 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 last week's London show included a mid-sized Hyundai minivan, the new Nissan Skyline GT-R, a special 280-hp Subaru Impreza, a production TVR Tuscan and the Daewoo Mirae concept, a combination minivan and sports car.
The biggest problem facing the London show this year was its timing. It came just after the massive Frankfurt show, and coincided with the much larger Tokyo auto show.