The first new car to be introduced by MG Rover since its sell-off by BMW will be a medium sector model designed as a direct competitor to the Volkswagen Golf.
The news was revealed this morning at the Geneva motor show by John Parkinson, MG Rover sales and marketing director. He told AM-online: "The new car is our next priority. It will be medium sized because that is the largest sector in the market and it will compete on price in particular against the Golf, which is the leading vehicle in that sector."
Mr Parkinson said work had started on the new car "package" which is as yet at the design concept stage. One option being considered was to base the new car on the 75 saloon platform.
"We expect to have made our minds up on such issues as this by the middle of the year to enable us to launch the car at the end of 2003," Mr Parkinson said.
There will also be, he added, Rover and MG variants of the forthcoming model.
The main event for MG Rover at Geneva was the unveiling of the 75 Tourer or estate, together with the announcement that the enhanced and MG-badged 25, 45 and 75, codenamed X30, X20 and X10, will each go on-sale with the Z prefix followed by additional letters ZR, ZS or ZT. The core versions in each of the three ranges will also carry the engine PS rating as part of the badging.
The Rover 75 Tourer goes into production in May and will be on sale across Europe by the summer with UK prices £950 above the equivalent saloon.