Beijing 2008: Roewe 550 debuts, still good lookin'

Click above for high-res gallery of the Roewe 550

Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation debuted the Roewe 550 over the weekend at the Auto China show in Beijing, and it joins the 750 in a lineup that was designed and engineered entirely in Britain. For those who don't remember the story, a little history lesson might be in order. SAIC fought long and hard against cross-town Chinese rival Nanjing for the right to purchase the bankrupt English automotive brand Rover. SAIC won the battle, but didn't secure the rights to the Rover name. Hence, Roewe was born and the 750 debuted as a rebadged version of the Rover 75. The Roewe 550, however, is its own car with a design that doesn't carry forward any obvious cues from Rover. Based on a shortened version of the Rover 75 platform, the 550 was reportedly being developed before MG Rover bit the dust in 2005, and SAIC has made sure to keep the car palatable to European tastes as it plans to sell the 550 in Europe eventually.

The 550 features a clean and tasteful exterior design, though some at the show note its interior isn't made of the highest quality materials. We do, however, like the digital gauge cluster that wraps around the analog tach, as well as the flush nav screen. The 550's available engines, however, are not as impressive and include the same 1.8T and 1.6L K-Series four-cylinders, as well as a 2.0L diesel, that were sold in Rovers before the company collapsed. Autocar points out it's also possible that the 550 could be badged as an MG in Europe, as SAIC recently bought its rival Nanjing, which settled for buying the MG name when it lost the bid to own Rover's assets.

Check out the new Roewe 550 in our high-res gallery below.

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All photos Copyright ©2008 Ibiza Wang / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Autoblog Chinese, Autocar]

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