'Industry Insiders' tell me that the contract at the moment is for RDX60, the 45 replacement, and has some interesting commercial elements to it , particularly with regard to TWR bearing a large part of the initial development cost which will only be recovered over the full production life of the vehicle. Most of the work is being done in Worthing at the former Daewoo Technical Centre that TWR bought for a song last year and not at TWRs Leafield HQ.
This is a broadly similar arrangement to that between Rover and Mayflower covering the MGF/TF body which has made Mayflower some serious numbers over the years. Mayflower put money and engineering resource into the MGF at an early stage of the project with a view to recouping their investment within a pre-determined time frame based on projected volumes. Word is that they got their sums right and that Rover under-estimated the demand for MGF. Obviously the RDX60 project is much larger in both commercial and engineering terms.
MGRs decision to outsource development is down to shortage of in-house technical resource, which may in any case already be commited on other projects, and the need to generate extra external funding for new vehicle projects.
Incidently in the - - - days, engineering on both R25 and R45 was done by external design/development firms - RDS and MSX, respectively.
You are right though, lets hope it turns out better than the VolvoC70 and Renault Clio V6. However their is a previous connection between MGR and TWR which had a successful outcome - TWR did the initial styling and concept engineering on the R75 Estate back in late 1996/early 1997.