Rover 100 (1994)



Rover 100

In the autumn of 1994, Rover scrapped the Metro nameplate, replacing it with a new name, Rover 100, which had been adopted on continental Europe on the Rover Metro's launch in 1990, due to the weakness of the Austin marque in Europe.

The mechanics of the car remained much the same with 1.1 and 1.4 petrol engines and Hydragas suspension, but there was now the option of a Peugeot-sourced 1.5 diesel. The exterior was altered to disguise the car's age, meet the increased cooling requirements of the Peugeot motor and to offer a reduced-format Rover family grille. This was achieved through fitment of new front and rear bumpers, sill covers, rear boot handle & lamps headlamps, bonnet and grille.

A variety of bolder paint colours and the use of chrome trim helped give a more upmarket appearance. The interior trim was revised to give a greater impression of quality and luxury, but as there were no changes to the basic architecture it was considered by many as being short on space and outdated in comparison to its most modern rivals (most of which had been replaced with all-new models since the launch of the Rover Metro). Overall, the 100 series was considered a rather typical facelift of a car which had been a class leader on launch but had now been overtaken by events.

In February 1998, the Rover 100 suffered poor performances in EuroNCAP crash tests (despite the improved safety features, including side impact bars in the doors and an optional driver's airbag, the 1970s design was showing its age) - it was at the time the only car tested to receive a one-star Adult Occupant Rating. Other superminis tested at the same time recieved 2 or 3 stars out of four. The passenger compartment was subjected to severe structural damage in the frontal-offset test and results showed a high risk of injury to all body regions for the driver. Meanwhile, the Side impact test showed high injury risks also.

The Rover 100's dismal safety showing was not its only problem by 1998. It was fast falling behind the best cars in its sector when it came to design, build quality, refinement and specification, although it remained strong in terms of fuel economy and affordability. Unlike the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa, the Rover 100 could still provide sub-£7,000 motoring.

Facing a complete collapse of sales, Rover withdrew the 100 from production. It marked the end of nearly 18 years of production, during which time the Metro had proved itself to be one of the most important British cars of all time.

There was no direct replacement for the Metro/100, although the 1995 Rover 200 had been developed inside Rover Cars to serve as a replacement for the 100 as well as the previous 200 model, which was slightly larger. The 100 and 200 were sold concurrently until 1998, when the former was cancelled. When the Rover 200 was facelifted in the autumn of 1999 and rebadged as the Rover 25, Rover marketed this as a supermini reflecting the continued,steady, growth of all car classes. The plan was for the both the 100 and the 25 to be on the market until the launch of the true replacement for the Metro in the shape of the MINI. However, BMW's sale of Rover put an end to those plans. BMW kept the MINI design and MG Rover's notional successor to the Metro was the Rover 25 and its MG ZR badge-engineered relative.

The gap left by the Metro as a true Rover supermini was not filled even in the autumn of 2003, when the CityRover was launched - it was a 1.4 engined supermini built in India alongside the Tata Indica. This model was nowhere near as popular as the Metro or even the Rover 100, and was not included in the revived product range by Nanjing Automobile following MG Rover's bankruptcy in 2005.


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