IN AN UNPRECEDENTED burst of candour, Rover Group recently conceded that its main UK product is 'a problem brand ... in the doldrums' and is to abandon its niche positioning as 'a British BMW'. Instead, marketing director Martin Runnacles and sales & marketing head Tom Purves (both imported from BMW UK last year) have opted for head-on confrontation with the big two volume carmakers - Ford and Vauxhall. The decision is based on months of research with consumer focus groups. Rover Cars (excluding Land Rover) held just 8.8% of the UK market in the nine months to September, down from 9.4% in the same period last year.