Rover borrows from past to launch model that holds key to its future: Was It Worth The Wait?
Friday 18 June 1999
"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 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.
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 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. The 75 is priced above Passats and Mondeos, in keeping with Rover's desire to be seen as a premium brand.
The ride is soft, and can be a bit floaty over undulating roads. Yet the handling is sharp, and the steering feels good.
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