I thought the Streetwise had died with Rover… what’s this MG version doing?
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The Chinese company that bought up the remnants of MG Rover, Nanjing (NAC-MG), is expanding its Anglo-Chinese range of cars with an entry-level car modelled on the Rover Streetwise. Yes – the same Streetwise that was a mildly warmed-over version of the 25, launched in 1999. Recently shown to NAC management, this MG-badged Streetwise has reportedly been greeted warmly. Especially as demand for smaller cars is set to explode in China in the coming years.
This looks exactly like the Rover Streetwise though. They haven’t changed much, have they?
As these pictures reveal, the MG Streetwise differs from its former Rover counterpart in badging only. In all likelihood, this car was produced in Longbridge before MG Rover went into meltdown in April 2005. The process of dismantling the Rover 25/MG ZR production line had already started in 2005, with the intention of going to Shanghai (SAIC), but when MGR went into administration taking the ill-fated joint venture with it, those plans went into abeyance. Following NAC-MG’s purchase of the production facilities in Longbridge for £53m, it’s believed that the entire 25/ZR line now resides at the new factory in Nanjing.
So why launch such an old car in China?
Well, Nanjing’s current small car is even older than the 25 – it’s based on the 1984 SEAT Ibiza, hardly cutting-edge tech and completely unsuited to the company’s ambition to expand its worldwide presence. So the MG Streetwise would fit nicely into the model portfolio. Production of the MG7, the reborn 75, is ramping up in China, and the K-series engine (in four- and V6-cylinder guises) is already coming off the line. The MG Streetwise would share its engine with the TF2 roadster, and could be in production in late 2008 if the final go-ahead is given. There will be no Chinese version of the Rover 45/MG ZS, as Honda ensured any production facilities at Longbridge were removed before the arrival of Nanjing in August 2005.