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Roewe 550

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Here's a preview of the 550 that's to be revealed in Beijing next month...

roewe550_redspy_01.jpg

roewe550_redspy_03.jpg

roewe550_redspy_02.jpg

roewe550_redspy_04.jpg

It started life as a Rover 45 replacement, but then SAIC took over and completed development of it. After only a year of existence, the Roewe brand certainly seems to be growing fast and catching on; the posher streets of Shanghai are lined with black, window-tinted, chauffeur-driven 750s, which are becoming nearly as ubiquitous as SAIC's own LaCrosse and Passat sedans. SAIC might have failed in purchasing the Rover nameplate, but the brand still takes whatever Britishness it has to heart -- in the back of a Santana 3000 taxi, I saw a Roewe TV ad that was a near clone of Jaguar's own "Gorgeous" campaign, complete with uppity people playing snooker and an Asian man dressed in Beefeaterwear.

The 750 is a nice vehicle. With its 75 Coupe Concept-inspired front end, it looks imposing going down a street, and the many revisions SAIC made have kept it surprisingly fresh. Nanjing's MG7, by contrast, hasn't improved on the 75 at all, and now it looks dated parked next to its more striking cousin. This new smaller 550, which targets the popular Sagitar (MkV Jetta) and Excelle, appears to be a promising personal car.

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This is because unlike most Chinese automakers (especially the truck brands always being touted), SAIC has:

a) bucketloads of money to spend on vehicle development (the typical SUV and pickup brands are really CKD assemblers, often with a capacity of less than 30K pa and sales much less than that—is it any wonder they still build 20+ year-old Japanese trucks with 20+year old pushrod, often carburetted engines).

b) a modern UK technical center set up by Ricardo and staffed by many former Rover engineers

c) a half share in GM's PATAC technical center, responsible for the Park Avenue, LaCrosse, Excelle and SLS etc.

What they can't seem to do is keep experienced managers, the joke being that none of the experienced staff SAIC hires can understand the Shanghai dialect.

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Unlike any other Chinese compact for the next 10 years, the 550 should be the equal to any Japanese or Korean rival, if not as good as the European Focus, C4, 308 or Bravo. It's major limitation will be engine variety as, unlike Chery, SAIC is being careful with its money.

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If you view it as a Chinese design, then it's not too bad (although it does have a bit of a Toyota-like appliance appearance). If you view it as a descendant of Rover, it is a bit of a disappointment.

On the other hand, some of Rover's last products were outdated rebadge jobs of Honda products (Rover 400 Mark II and subsequent Rover 45); so maybe this is really an improvement over some of Rover's final products.

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Reminds me of a Passat/Jetta. Overall not bad, although the front end could use work.

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What a hodge-podge of borrowed/stolen/adapted styling cues.

Very unique at first glance and yet not a single semi-original line about it.

Not bad stylistically for a Chinese car, though that's not saying much.

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Th Civics interior is retarded and this steering wheel lack's the Civic's triangle shaped thumb torture device.

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Not a bad looking car, though the odd looking headlights I think needs to be replaced. It's unique I know, but it does not look that good to me. Other than that, overall appearance, it looks heck of a lot better than most Japanese cars and Korean cars on the road today.

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Actual pics of the car in Beijing...

07_beijingroewe550.jpg

01_beijingroewe550.jpg

Official pics...

roewe550_official.jpg

roewe550_official-(1).jpg

roewe550_official-(2).jpg

The side profile seems particularly Rovery.

Edited by empowah
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Ah, I have seen worse. (But I have also seen stuff that is world's better.)

The interior design is very BMW-esque, however.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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