Hit by low sales, MG Rover is reducing the price of the CityRover and also improving the specification of the small car.

The CityRover is produced in India by Tata Motors and is based on the Indian company's popular Indica model. MG Rover has been importing from Tata Motors since November 2003 but has not met earlier expectations and has sold only 6,000 units this year against a target of 20,000-plus.

MG Rover plans to reduce the CityRover Solo's basic price to £5,995 from the current £6,495. The 2005 model will also come with anti-lock brakes, power steering and a driver's side airbag. MG Rover engineers have been to India to work on improving the CityRover, which has also suffered from a low quality perception.

MG Rover group director of sales and marketing, Rod Ramsay, told an Indian newspaper: "This is excellent news for both our UK and European dealers as they need a city car to increase our market penetration which will boost our efforts to raise overall sales next year. Our model line-up will be significantly more competitive with the enhanced CityRover we are planning to introduce during 2005."

The head of international business at Tata Motors, Divyendu Kumar, said: "CityRover supplies remain a priority for Tata Motors and the company continues to be committed to the overall success of the CityRover project."

This came a day after Tata and MG Rover released a joint statement to reaffirm their commitment to the partnership [which Tata had threatened to axe if a MG Rover deal with Chinese automaker SAIC proceeded].

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup