The original Mini has been hailed as the UK’s favourite car, due to its design and practicality. It inspired a number of other cars, with one of the most famous being the Austin Metro. The Metro was designed to eventually replace the Mini. The Metro proved to be popular enough that several variations were developed and it won various awards, such as Car of The Year in 1983. We’re looking into the history of the Metro.
The original concept for the Metro was based on the ADO88, which was meant to be a direct replacement to the Mini. The AD088 was poorly received at customer clinics, so a major redesign needed to happen. In 1977, the concept was redesigned to be larger. The ADO88 became the Austin Mini Metro and it was introduced in 1980.
The Metro’s design was handled by David Bache and Harris Mann. The design took cues from the Mini, featuring 998 cc and 1275 cc A-series engines and the front-wheel drivetrain. Suspension came from the Allegro, while the hatchback body shell provided a lot of space. The hatchback shape was a major reason for the Metro being popular. Bach also incorporated his signature symmetric dashboard into the interior.
Austin put a lot of effort into marketing the vehicle. The launch event happened over a three-week period aboard the cruise ship MS Vistafjord. Media outlets reported on the Metro a year before it came out. After the Metro came out, publicity was helped by Lady Diana owning one. She was regularly seen it it before her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.
A lot of its success came from the clever design and space interior. The Hydragas suspension system also delivered a comfortable ride. The Metro quickly became the best selling mini-car in the UK.
The Metro’s best year was in 1983, with more than 130,000 being sold in Britain. In 1984, a major advertising campaign was launched, with London agency Leo Burnett coming up with the phrase ‘a British car to beat the world.’ The campaign generated further interest.
Several variations of the Metro were developed, such as an MG and luxury model. Over the course of ten years, 1 million were sold in the UK. In the modern day, the Metro is a rare sight on UK roads, but it will always remain one of the best British cars of all time.