Amid all the brouhaha over the launch of the new MGF, one important fact has been overlooked: the new MG proves that Rover can make cars on its own again.

The MGF is the first go-it-alone Rover since the Montego, 11 years ago. Every Rover since, and a few before, were based on Hondas. Different body styling, sometimes; different engines, occasionally; and leather and wood, invariably, to try to transmogrify dull little Japanese cars into stately English ones. But, in every case, from 200 to 400 to 600 to 800, every new Rover has essentially been a tarted-up Honda.

What's doubly pleasing about the MGF is that it is such a good car; a more impressive engineering achievement than any of the Honda-Rovers. The Honda-Rover alliance, let us not forget, was never more than a marriage of convenience. Like most such liaisons, it gave Honda a way into Europe, preparatory to building its own factory and own cars here (in Swindon).

And for Rover, it was an engineering lifeline, thrown when the company was deep in the financial mire. Never mind that Honda refused Rover access to first-grade engineering information, nor that most Rover-Hondas have been based on ageing Hondas rather than new-wave models. Without Honda, Rover may very well have gone belly-up.

BMW's take-over means it won't. And the excellence of the MGF means it doesn't deserve to. The MGF presages an era of new Rover-Rover cars, with a bit of help from BMW. They will be front-drive saloons, use mostly Rover- developed engines and Rover suspensions, and use bespoke Rover-designed bodies. They will not be based on BMWs, let alone Hondas.

Most importantly, they should also bring some brand consistency back to Rover. The Honda-Rovers are competent cars: reliable, easy to drive, handy, uncomplicated. But they stand for nothing: how can they do otherwise, when they are the products of two makers with such contrasting philosophies?

The upshot is that Rover's image, so strong 30 years ago, now stands for little. Rover's management hasn't helped. Changing the name earlier this year of the Metro to the Rover 100, complete with chrome grille, is not consistent with trying to position Rover as an upmarket marque: one that should stand above hoi polloi (meaning Ford and Vauxhall).

All - or nearly all - car makers can make good cars cheaply; that was one of the industrial achievements of the Eighties. But what distinguishes Rover from Honda (or for that matter Kia, Daewoo, Hyundai or any other of the Third World arrivistes) is its tradition. It has a heritage.

BMW is one of the acknowledged masters of brand protection and promotion. If you drive a BMW 3-series, you simply drive a BMW. It is an important difference. If you drive a Rover, who knows what you're driving? What is the commonality between a Rover 100 and an 800? There is none, other than that both cars are outclassed in their respective sectors, and that they have chrome grilles and the same badges.

BMW will help change that. It wants to emphasise the traditional values of Rover. It wants Rovers to be very British again, rather like four-wheeled versions of a Savile Row suit. It wants Rovers thought of as cheaper Jaguars. This is an attractive proposition, and an attainable one.

With the MG, Rover has proved that it can build great cars by itself again. It has also proved, with the Rover 100, that it fundamentally misunderstands the minutiae of marketing and brand protection. BMW can help a little with the former, and a lot with the latter. We may, once again, be on the verge of a great chapter in the history of the nation's car maker.

The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style

ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

    Email Designer

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Psychology Teacher

    £110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

    Food Technology Teacher

    £85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week