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Considering all the trouble that has surrounded Rover over the years, it's a mazing the company exists at all. Thinking back at all those awful cars the company made (or in fact all their cars), they really should have died a quick death a long tinme ago. The rule here is that Rover make crap cars. And to prove a rule you need an exception and the 75 is just that.
Rover cars have lived under the pretence of having some sort of prestige for years now, thinking that putting a chrome grille on below-par super-mini somehow justifies the car as prestigious. Posh people would never buy a Rover. Rovers are bought by middle-class retired people. But with the 75 Rover has finally created a car of real refinement, a car that actually oozes quality.
Much of this is done by blatantly copying the Jaguar S-Type, but the 75 is a far better looking car. It also has a huge advantage over the Jag because production was over-seen by BMW, a company that knows a little more about producing prestige models than Ford. The car is superbly crafted from the outside and really does look like a car or real class.
Inside the class theme is continued. There is clearly a retro look inside and out, but the detailing in the interior is exquisite. From the clock to the dials their is quality all round this well thought out car. Rover simply had to get this car right and it shows. No longer is there a bit of fake wood and a dash of chrome in a half-hearted attempt at making a quality interior. This time the interior works.
With the car being so wonderful, you would be let down with a thump if the car didn't perform on the road. This car is a superb cruiser, it is more refined than any other car I have driven, it is very much engineered to suit the mature driver. While this may not suit my more sporty interests, I can appreciate a well engineered car when I drive one.
The steering is responsive, if not overtly sporty, the clutch is well weighted and it handles with real confidence. The breaks are strong and the ride is silky smooth. For a while I imagined the government had actually put some money into the roads!
The 1.8 litre engine in a car of this size was the only disappointment. It is definitely a little under-powered, I would opt for the 2.0 litre I was buying. There is a lack of low end torque for hard acceleration too. It seems that the car has been engineered to deliver torque higher up the rev range to suit motorway cruising.
On the whole I have to admit that I do actually like this car. It has real soul and character. It's just a shame that Rover can't get the mixture right on its other cars. I can't help thinking that developing the MG brand will be a mistake, considering how awful and effeminate the MGF is. If there is one lesson to be learnt from the Rover 75, is that with real funding they can build cars that compete with their German rivals.