Rover Models from 1999 to 2005
During the time under BMW ownership the range was never really allowed to tread on the toes of the BMW range, arguably this was why the 75 was styled with such a retro theme as it was. Luckily though the overlap wasn't as pronounced as with the MG roadster side of things where the MGF was quite strongly held back so as not to compete with the Z3.
The Rover brand under Phoenix stood for luxury and on the whole the cars were reasonably well specified, especially towards the end in 2005. To a degree they had to do this to make up for the age of the vehicles, the 25 was really a made over Rover 200 dating back to 1995 when the 'bubble' 200 was launched and the 45 dating back even further to the Honda Domini on which it was based during the 90s before BMW took ownership and Honda were a big partner for the then Austin Rover Group.
They also played on the value card and to be honest the cars weren't really bad, just showing their age. The 45 in particular was a constant sore point and the much expected facelift in 2004 failed to go further enough for alot of people and will always be remembered in .org lore as the facelift that never was. This was thanks in no short part to 'leaks' that came onto the site purporting to say how radical the facelift was! In the end it was a cosmetic nip and tuck outside and a reasonably wide-ranging revision inside, leading to, it has to be said, not a bad looking car, it just wasn't the game changer people hoped for.
The ZS facelift with the addition of a body kit was arguably the most effective facelift done during the Phoenix ownership, only surpassed by the MGF to TF transformation.
About 6-12 months before the facelifts came out, MG Rover unveiled the one undoubted success story of the 5 years, the Streetwise. The Ford fusion was arguably the first of the 'Streetwise' class of car as it began to be called, however the Streetwise really took the Urban Offroad look and met it with more practical 2 wheel drive. The car was raised up a bit from the normal Rover 25 ride height and the look appealed to a lot of people. Aimed at the younger buyer it ironically sold well to the older buyer as well thanks to the higher ride height and the benefits for getting in and out of the car this has.
After the momentary success with the Streetwise, the good luck couldn't last and the City Rover was launched. However, a theme was beginning to appear in that the company would have good ideas but in the transition from idea to reality it somehow went wrong! The car wasn't overly bad - it certainly wasn't as bad as the press made out, but it was really let down by the drive train. What MGR should have done is completed the job and put in a K Series engine and drivetrain into the car. With a decent engine and gearbox it would have been a proper spiritual successor to the Metro. As it was, they skimped on the work and whilst the interior was pretty heavily improved on the Indica and MGR worked with TATA in India on this, it ultimately did not have the build quality of the rest of the MGR range.
Sadly another missed opportunity.
Overall the facelifts were only intended to be a short term thing, the Rover 45 replacement was intended to be on stream within a few years, but that got dragged down by delays whilst the P4 tried to find a Chinese suitor and dragged their feet so that the 45 replacement could be tweaked for any Chinese requirements. In the end it was all too late and UK production halted with the collapse in 2005.
The Rover 25 / MG ZR / Streetwise & 45 / ZS production lines were moved over to China following NAC's purchase of the company following its collapse. The MG 3 is the current embodiment of the 25 / Streetwise design and the 45/ZS was going to be the MG5, but NAC failed to get this into production before their takeover by SAIC.
Rover Cars Mk1 - up to 2004
Rover Cars Mk2 - from 2004
Rover 75 Special Versions