During its 18-year lifespan, the Metro wore many names: Austin Metro, MG Metro and Rover Metro. It was re-badged as the Rover 100 series in January 1995. There were also van versions known as the Morris Metro and later, Metrovan.
Plans for a replacement for the Mini had been afoot within BL since the early 1970s, but none of the concepts conceived got beyond the initial design stages, largely due to a shortage of funds at British Leyland, and its eventual bankruptcy and government bail-out in 1975.
A two-door saloon model was included in the Metro's development, which would have been similar in concept to the Vauxhall Chevette saloon as well as the Volkswagen Polo based Derby. However, by the time production of the Metro began, it was decided not to include a saloon version; this niche being filled by the Mini remaining in production, and only a few of the Metro's competitors were available as a saloon.
During 1981, British Leyland confirmed that the Metro range would soon be expanded with more luxurious and high performance versions. The Metro range was expanded in May 1982 to include the luxury Vanden Plas and higher performance MG versions; the MG Metro marked a quick comeback for the marque previously used on sports cars until the Abingdon plant making the MG B closed in 1980. The Vanden Plas featured higher levels of luxury and equipment, while the slightly more powerful MG Metro 1.3 sold as a sports model (0–60 mph in 10.1 seconds, top speed 105 mph). The Vanden Plas variant received the same MG engine from 1984 onwards (with the exception of the VP Automatic, which retained the 63 bhp (47 kW) 1275 cc unit). The luxury fittings marking out the Metro Vanden Plas took the form of a radio-cassette player, electric front windows, an improved instrument panel with tachometer, and a variety of optional extras such as trip computer, leather trim, remote boot release, and front fog lamps.