The Rover Streetwise was a compact British car made by MG Rover. It was based on the Rover 25, but had an increased ride height and chunkier bumpers. The car was marketed by Rover as an 'urban on-roader'. Production ended in April 2005, due to the bankruptcy of MG Rover, but reappeared in March 2008 in China as the MG 3 SW, following the purchase of MG Rover's assets by Nanjing Automobile Group.
The Rover Streetwise was an attempt by Rover to appeal to younger drivers. Rover had modernised the existing models in 1999 with a facelift for the 25, 45 and the Rover designed 75 models but Rover was suffering falling sales and a tarnished brand after the sale of Rover to the consortium of Phoenix in March 2000 by BMW.
Although new models were in the planning stages, the 25 and 45 models would be at least ten years old before the new models were launched. Phoenix owned the rights to the MG brand, and had marketed the ZR, ZS and ZT with some success, restyling the existing 25, 45 and 75 models. This included tweaked suspension, new wheels, altered dashboard inserts, different seats and bodykits.
With the MG brand proving popular, MG Rover Group turned their attention to the Rover brand. The cars badged as Rover had a rather staid image, and were commonly associated with elderly motorists. Thus, MG Rover attempted to appeal to a younger market.
The tough looking Streetwise was designed as a two-wheel drive urban car with 4x4 looks. The Streetwise had a 10mm higher ride height than the basic 25, and although it shared many of the common characteristics of the 25, it was visually different with large impact absorbing grey or black plastic bumpers.
Unlike the rest of the Rover and MG range, the Streetwise bumpers were not colour coded. The front indicators were redesigned to complement the circular headlamps, and most models came with chunky sixteen inch wheels as standard. To extend the load space, the Streetwise was fitted with multi purpose roof bars, which also served to distinguish the Streetwise from the ZR and the 25, in addition to the standard 60/40 split rear seats.
The Streetwise offered a choice of sporty interiors, available in four or five seats (optional). The standard four seats had two separate rear seats and a separating centre console, and body hugging front sports seats on all models, trimmed in half leather on SE and later GSi models. All models came with a driver's airbag, PAS, remote central locking with perimetric alarm and ABS.
The S added electric front windows, body coloured door mirrors, 16" Alloy wheels with security wheel nuts, CD Tuner with rear speakers and steering wheel remote audio controls. Top spec SE models further added air conditioning, electric door mirrors, leather steering wheel and gearknob, part leather seats with rear headrests, vhoice of seat facing colourway, front fog lamps, and body coloured bumper inserts.
Other subtle changes included a revised centre console and a restyled blue instrument dials. All Streetwises came with Trafficmaster Alert, an early warning device to warn the drivers of congested routes. The Streetwise also came with rear parking sensors, as an option or as standard on higher models.
The Streetwise engines were available as 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 stepspeed (Automatic), and a 2.0 TD. The 1.6 and the 1.8 were less common.