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The Express March 15, 2002

The Express

March 15, 2002


LENGTH: 717 words



IT has taken time, but Rover seems to have done a decent enough job establishing itself in the marketplace following the painful divorce from ***. The company may not have produced any all-new models, but they have successfully updated the existing line with numerous new derivatives.

Take, for instance, the 74 Tourer. This is a car boasting a genuine ability to complete alongside the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate, yet it offers so much more for the money and is wrapped in one of the most distinctive shapes in the business. Then there's the MG ZR, ZS and ZT trio - based on the 23, 45 and 75 models. These defied the critics and offer a decent driving experience at an affordable price. Most recently, the MG TF has just gone on sale. A huge advance over the MG F, on which it is based, the TF is an entertaining machine, arguably at least as good as the benchmark Mazda MX5.

But to showcase the company's longerterm ambitions, the great British marque has just given the first public indication of future design thinking. Badged as the Rover TCV (Tourer Concept Vehicle) this stunner formed the company's centrepiece at the Geneva Motor Show.

Radically different to anything Rover has ever produced, TCV is shown as an external full-size model, combined with a dynamic virtual-reality demonstration of the ingenious interior. It has been created to show the company's vision.

Although this concept is innovative and free-thinking, unlike some show cars it has been designed for genuine production feasibility and a vehicle based on the TCV concept could eventually appear.

Recent market developments reflect a growth in new categories, such as MPVs, van-based estate cars and various hybrids.

The Rover TCV, claim its senior design people, demonstrates a new way of combining luxury, style and driving enjoyment with exceptional practicality and adaptability.

As a starting point, the TCV fulfils the normal Tourer role, in much the same way as the 75 model - a stylish, modern-lifestyle estate car with a roomy five-passenger cabin. However, the TCV boasts a number of unique key features.

Arguably the most important for family buyers is a highly adaptable seating plan.

The rear three seat squabs all fold individually to lie flush with the normal rear load floor, and the front passenger seat also folds flat. This allows several combinations, and any folded seats can also be used in table-top mode for business or leisure. Very long items of up to 3.1 metres can be accommodated, while the centre rear seat squab can be replaced with various slot-in modules, including a child seat, an entertainment centre, a fridge/food warmer and a business desktop unit.

In addition to a special hatch door hinged well forward to give excellent access to the loadspace, the lower bumper section also hinges open, revealing a large, secure underfloor compartment. Developments in puncture management (Instant Mobility Systems and run-flat tyres) will render spare wheels finally redundant.

For even greater versatility, the main load floor is designed to be removed from the normal position and stowed on the floor of the lower compartment, thus creating an exceptionally deep cargo space with fulldepth access from the rear. One package objective was to be able to stow a normal front-loading washing machine in the upright position. The rationale was not to create a dedicated washing machine delivery van, but to give a demonstration of the capability of the package.

The TCV has also been designed with extra ground clearance, appropriate wheels and tyres, robust finishes for the lower body and wheel arches, and can accommodate advanced traction control technology. This gives the car a stance similar to the Saab 9-3X concept, also showcased at Geneva.

Rob Oldaker, MG Rover Product Development Director, said: "This concept car gives a strong indication of the way that our design team is developing a bold new personality for Rover. The TCV shows the kind of all-round versatility and luxury that we believe a Rover should offer."

The TCV will spawn a new generation of MG and Rover products, the first of which will go on sale in 2004. It is likely a TCV-style vehicle will form part of a replacement for the Rover 45, dating from 1995.

LOAD-DATE: March 15, 2002

the voice of reason!!!
12,407 Posts
Nice to see the British press giving some (much overdue) praise for a change. Is this a taste of things to come?
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