The Rover City is a fairly recent addition to the list of worst cars ever, as it started to come off the production line in 2003 onwards and was developed by MG Rover - no doubt hastening the company’s demise! The car had little to recommend it right from the outset, and this ‘supermini’ which was supposed to epitomise the noughties era as a sign of modern forward thinking technology was anything but that in reality.
Why was it so bad?
The Rover City (or CityRover) was a desperate attempt by the company to create a new car with increasingly limited resources and unfortunately this showed in the design. MG Rover wanted the car to fit in below their Rover 25 and act as a successor to the Austin and Rover Metro cars. Power was the initial problem as the car had a single 85 bhp, 1.4 litre engine which immediately made it less appealing than competitors. Potential buyers were also concerned about the starting price of just below £7,000 which evidently didn’t seem to provide value for money.
Poor quality and mediocre performance
Some consumers were attracted by the Rover brand which still held some prestige even at this stage in the company's history, however the quality and performance issues soon convinced customers otherwise. More charitable reviews show the car had at best only modest performance and shockingly vague handling. In addition, by the time the car made it to showrooms it already had a dated look as there had already been a very similar model around for a number of years. This was the Indian, Indica car produced by Tata, which bore a striking resemblance to the Rover with the primary difference between the cars being the badges and grille.
Top Gear go undercover
As the notoriety of the Rover grew, the company increasingly tried to take steps to keep the negative publicity under wraps, and even chose not to lend it to the Top Gear show. However, the Top Gear team were soon on to something, and James May even posed as a Rover dealer to review a customer test drive undercover!
MG Rover began to admit defeat in 2004 when they dropped the price of the vehicle by £900, but unfortunately it was too little too late to undertake any damage control and the company became bankrupt in 2005.<