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Rover Metro Photo Gallery
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Rover Metro Description
Manufacturer : Rover Group       Year : 1990

At the end of 1987, the Austin marque was shelved. The Austin badge was removed from the cars, which continued to be manufactured with no marque badge, just a model name badge. Rover management never allowed Rover badges on the Montego or the Maestro in their home market, although they were sometimes referred to as "Rovers" in the press and elsewhere. They wore badges that were the same shape as the Rover longship badge, but which did not say "Rover". The Metro did too until May 1990, when it was officially relaunched as the Rover Metro, heavily revised and fitted with a new range of engines.

The ageing 998 cc and 1275 cc A-Series engines - which had been in use since the late 1950s - gave way to the 1.1 (1113 cc 60 bhp (45 kW)) and 1.4 (1396 cc 76 bhp (57 kW)) K-Series 8 valve engines and a 16 valve engine in the GTi (early variants were 95 bhp (71 kW) Spi & later Mpi version 103 bhp) and the early GTa. All models used Peugeot-designed end-on gearboxes. In 1993, a 1.4 PSA TUD diesel from the CitroŽn AX / Peugeot 106 was launched. The Hydragas suspension was finally modified to accept front to rear interconnection in the way that Alex Moulton so desperately wanted to bring the car back up to standard in terms of handling and ride quality.

A new bodyshell for the replacement car (the AR6 project) was designed, with styling influenced by Ital Design, that had some similarity to the acclaimed Giorgetto Giugiaro designed Fiat Punto launched in 1994 and the Peugeot 205 lower panels, with the blacked out pillars and 'floating roof' of the 1989 R8 Rover 200. But it was cancelled by Chairman Graham Day, because British Aerospace (the then new owners) refused to fund it, and the relative failure of the Austin Montego and Austin Maestro had not produced expected profits to re-invest. A mockup could be seen at the Canley, Coventry design centre in the 1990s during open days. It appeared as a 'Scoop' photo on the front cover of CAR magazine in the mid-1980s. The basic bodyshell was retained, but was improved with the addition of new plastic front and rear bumpers, new front wings, new rear lights and bootlid, new front headlamps and bonnet. The interior was altered with a new rounded instrument binnacle and instruments, new steering wheel, new seats (from the successful Rover 200 series), new door casings and other detail improvements. General build quality, fit and finish was improved enormously from the old Metro and went on to win What Car? "Car of The Year" in 1991.

In many export markets, including Italy and France, the Rover Metro was badged as the Rover 100 series, with the 1.1 known as the Rover 111 and the 1.4 called 114.

Latterly this car has attracted an enthusiastic following including use as a low-cost entry to motor racing. The basic just-over-100 bhp (70 kW) engine for the GTI can be boosted to over 130 hp (97 kW) at the flywheel. For ultimate performance the 1.8 K-series engine, with standard cams or VVC (Variable Valve Control) system can be fitted (these engines are found in the MGF and Lotus Elise sports cars, as well as various Rovers and MGs).

In January 1995, Rover scrapped the Metro nameplate, replacing it with a new name, Rover 100, which had been adopted on continental Europe on the Rover Metro's launch in 1990, due to the weakness of the Austin marque in Europe.

The mechanics of the car remained much the same with 1.1 and 1.4 petrol engines and Hydragas suspension, but there was now the option of a Peugeot-sourced 1.5 diesel. The exterior was altered to disguise the car's age, meet the increased cooling requirements of the Peugeot motor and offer a reduced-format Rover family grille. This was achieved through fitment of new front and rear bumpers, sill covers, rear boot handle and lamps headlamps, bonnet and grille.

A variety of bolder paint colours and the use of chrome trim helped give a more upmarket appearance. The interior trim was revised to give a greater impression of quality and luxury, but as there were no changes to the basic architecture it was considered by many as being short on space and outdated in comparison to its most modern rivals (most of which had been replaced with all-new models since the launch of the Rover Metro) It was criticised by the press for its lack of equipment, with front electric windows only available on the range topping 114 GSi. Rear electric windows were never an option on the 100. Neither were Anti-Lock Brakes, Power Steering or a rev counter (except the GTa and later manual 114 GSi models) One saving grace for the 100 was the option of full leather trim, a rarity in a small car and coupled with the standard wood veneer dashboard inserts, a tinted glass sunroof and the optional wood veneer door cappings, the 114 GSi made for traditional luxury motoring; an image Rover was trying to retain. The only safety efforts came in the form of an optional drivers airbag, an alarm, a passive engine imobiliser, a removable radio keypad, central locking and side intrusion beams. Overall, the 100 series was considered a rather typical facelift of a car which had been a class leader on launch but had now been overtaken by events.

A 'hot' version of the 100 called the 114 GTa was available from launch. The main differences over the 114 SLi 3 door was sports seats, red seatbelts, a rev counter, sports suspension, a slightly higher top speed, faster acceleration, GSi alloy wheels and GTa badging. It was only available as a 3-door.

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