Motoring: The Rover's return

Road Test: The new 75 could finally give Rover access to the premier league.

This is the rebirth of Rover, the beginning of a new era for the company." If I had pounds 10 for every time a Rover executive had uttered those words at a press conference, I'd have enough money to mount a takeover bid for the firm.

"Crucial new model", "developed without compromise", "proof that Britain can build a world beater"... They were all there - the cliches, the rallying cries. Some things never change.

But fortunately for Rover, some things do change, and the quality of the engineering is one of them. The new 75 is an extremely competent car that deserves to sell well. It is classy, mature and genteel, and should appeal to people who want a quality car but not the Flash Harry badge that can go with it. If BMW is Versace and Audi is Hugo Boss, then the Rover 75 is Austin Reed or top-range M&S.

In some ways, it genuinely does represent a new beginning for Rover. It is the first car developed since the BMW takeover of 1994, and is the first Rover for 20 years that is not just a rebodied, re-engineered Honda. It does use some BMW kit, including much of the electronics, the manual gearbox and the turbo-diesel engine. In other ways, it is all new.

The 75 follows the plan of BMW's boss Bernd Pischetsrieder for Rover to "make cheaper Jaguars". On the whole, it feels like a smaller Jag saloon. It is a soothing car, not a sports car; a stately car, not a sensational car; an understated machine, not a head-turner.

It is aimed at the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4 (small, prestige cars, in other words) and the top-end tinselled Mondeos, Passats and Vectras. Mid-size Volvos and Saabs are also a target. It is a touch shorter than the BMW 5-series, and a tad bigger than a Mondeo. The styling has many traditional Rover cues - chrome strip down the side, chrome quarter-bumpers, chrome sills, chrome rear number-plate surround and chrome door-handles.

The nose is a little Euro-generic and dull, yet the rump is more fetching, being rather Bentley Continental R-like. A Rover PR man called it "tight-arsed", before accepting that that wasn't the best description.

Nor are "tight-arsed" people likely to be queuing up to buy it. The 75 is priced above Passats and Mondeos, in keeping with Rover's desire to be seen as a premium brand.

The cabin has a deep plank of curved walnut for a dash, large lounge- chair seats and quality carpet. The cabin is not particularly roomy: rear legroom is tight, and the rear seat has been shaped for two occupants only. The overall effect is very olde-worlde England. I'm not convinced about the oval, white-faced `Art Deco' instruments, which are harder to read than conventional ware. Yet, on the whole, the cabin has an air of civilised gentility.

The ride is soft, and can be a bit floaty over undulating roads. Yet the handling is sharp, and the steering feels good. Four engines are on offer: two V6s (2.0 litre and 2.5), a 1.8-litre four-cylinder model (the cheapest 75), and the BMW-made turbo-diesel, which boasts a "common rail" fuel injection to improve refinement. The best two engines are the diesel and the top-range 2.5. The diesel is quiet and refined on long runs and amazingly frugal - you should be able to average 50mpg. It is probably the best diesel engine in the world.

The 2.5 V6 auto is the choice, though. A luxury car needs automatic transmission, and the Japanese five-speed autobox mates well with the British-built V6. The 75 2.5 litre V6 auto is a car which Jaguar owners, wishing to downsize, could live happily with. It will also represent a strong challenge to Jaguar's new S-type V6, which hits the showroom just before the Rover.

Deliveries of the 75 begin in June - a couple of months later than Rover had hoped. Cars won't leave the factory until BMW standards are achieved, they vow.

I hope they're right, because the quality of the cars at the press launch wasn't good enough. Bits of trim fell off some, and many models had high levels of wind noise.

Quite why sub-standard cars were being evaluated by the world's press is a question which Rover's bosses might like to dwell on. If they blow the launch of the 75 - fundamentally the best Rover in years - then they really do deserve the wrath of the market.


Make and model: Rover 75 2.5 V6 Connoisseur pounds 24,025 (cheapest 75 model is the 1.8 Classic, at pounds 18,275).

Engine: 2497cc, V6, 24 valves, 177 bhp at 6500 rpm. Transmission: Five- speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.

Performance: (Automatic) maximum speed 134mph, 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds.


Audi A4 2.4 SE pounds 24,862. Smaller and more cramped than the 75. Modern looks and a bullet-proof build quality.

BMW 323i SE pounds 24,770. Sportier, faster and smaller than the 75.

Ford Mondeo 2.5 V6 Ghia pounds 18,680. Much cheaper than the 75, but performance as good. Feels less luxurious.

Volkswagen Passat 1.8T 20V SE pounds 18,855. Attractive alternative to the Rover. Handsome, roomy and terrific value. Turbo engine very brisk.

Volvo S70 2.5T pounds 23,855. An ageing car soon to be replaced. Yet it's tough and safe, and recent styling upgrades give it a modern feel.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

    £30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum