An fully-redesigned 25 replacement is still reportedly a few years off, so MG Rover is eking out the current model with a new Streetwise derivative model line, a high-riding version of the three-door body style designed for what the company describes as “a growing European sub-sector for small cars with an ‘urban-tough’ attitude”.

The Streetwise has larger steel or alloy wheels and raised suspension for greater ground clearance and a higher viewpoint, more prominent and tougher moulded bumpers, wheelarch protectors and rubbing strips, in a scratch-resistant dark grey-grained finish. Roof carry bars are standard on all models.

Inside, the Streetwise has individual sports-style seating for four, its own interior trim and a 60/40 split folding rear seat squab for extra versatility.

MG Rover will offer the Streetwise with a selection of petrol and diesel power engines, various transmissions and three trim levels. The UK home market will initially get twin-cam alloy 1.4 litre K series petrol engines in either 84PS or 103PS tune or a 101PS L series turbo-diesel unit, all with five speed manual transmissions. Coming later are an unspecified additional petrol engine with manual transmission, and a 1.8-litre K series unit with Stepspeed CVT automatic transmission. The Streetwise will also be exported with a variety of powertrain and equipment specifications, according to market.

MG Rover says that European small car sales grew strongly during the 1990s and are now steady at around 3.5 million units each year across the top nine markets. Last year in the UK, one in three of all new car sales were in the small and supermini sector. The company says there is an increasing trend by small car buyers to seek a more ‘personalised’ variation in style and configuration. One emerging sub-segment is what MG Rover calls the ‘urban on-roader’ and it has developed the Streetwise for buyers wanting a car that has elements of an SUV, such as good ground clearance and ruggedness, but without the costs and complexity of all-wheel drive. It describes the Streetwise as robust, versatile and stylish, fun to drive, handy in traffic, easy to park and able to shrug off hard use by active individuals and young families.

Interior design details introduced with the Streetwise include a new centre console with redesigned switches and improved storage plus a new floor console incorporating the gear lever, window lift switches and rear ashtray. There are distinctive blue instrument graphics, and the new circular front ashtray can be transferred, if required, to the cup holder section of the door pocket.