Styling of the new car was intended to recognise Rover’s heritage ‘subliminally’ as its foundation without trying to translate traditional styling features to a modern car, says Rover Group design director Geoff Upex. ‘The priority was to make a thoroughly modern car but also recognising it came from a classic line. We tried to make it feel less mass-produced with more of a craftsmanship feel,’ he says.
Hence the use of chrome embellishment: ‘Chrome can be a dangerous thing in 1999,’ says Upex, but the aim was to avoid a design that was completely rational. ‘We wanted a car that could be described as beautiful,’ he says. ‘Modern, aggressive and so on are easy.’
He adds: ‘From six square inches of a BMW you’d know what it was. There’s a consistency of purpose through the whole design. It’s not about styling but having integrity running through it like a stick of rock. We wanted to end up with a completely holistic product.’
The interior, with its idiosyncratically styled instruments, is intended to be ‘welcoming’ and to re-define a Rover interior, as opposed to just adding wood veneers. ‘Anyone can apply wood,’ says Upex.