Car Test   R0314
 
February 2003
Brief Test Rover 75
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.8T Club SE
If thereís one criticism that can be levelled at the Rover 75 range, itís that the 1.8-litre engine has to work hard in a car thatís unlikely to win a Slimmer of the Year award. But aiming for higher performance with the 2.5 V6 will not only cost you more in terms of initial layout and mpg, if youíre a company car driver it clobbers you with a greater tax liability, as well. Help is at hand, however, in the shape of the 1.8T.
  
   Itís cunningly simple, really. By bolting a light-pressure turbocharger and intercooler to its 1796cc, four-cylinder K-series engine, Rover has upped the power and torque by a formidable 30bhp and 40 lb ft respectively, with the latter peaking at significantly lower revs.
  
   The upshot is near 2.5 V6 performance with a significantly lower CO2 output and with only a marginal increase in fuel consumption. And itís all done in a rather discreet way - no fiery temperament, just a smooth, almost supercharged, surge of acceleration up through the gears, resulting in performance that puts the 75 in strong contention with its rivals.
  
   Such swift progress is aided by an admirable (if slightly clingy) gearshift, but the clutch - at 16kg - is rather weighty and itís accompanied by an audible but unaggressive engine note. This is echoed on main roads and motorways, where the higher final drive ratio gives the 1.8T a longer-legged cruising gait.
  
   In other respects, the 75 remains very much as described in our earlier reports. From day one, ride comfort was, perhaps, the modelís most outstanding feature. And though, four years on, rivals have closed the gap, the suspension continues to impress with its pliant suppleness and its composure on patchy B-roads. However, enthusiast drivers seeking roll-free cornering and sporty handling to match the 1.8Tís eager performance will need to look elsewhere - this Rover, with its unchanged underpinnings, still puts decorum before door-handling.
  
   Similarly there are no concessions to this modelís sprightlier nature within the retro-styled interior with its oh-so-British burr walnut facia and oval, parchment-coloured dials. Some may feel that even the deliberately dated look is beginning to look, um, dated. Nevertheless, the car is impeccably trimmed for those of us who deplore baseball caps.
  
   Itís easy to achieve a comfortable driving position and we like the generally ergonomic switchgear, but itís a pity the climate control buttons and readout are small and low-mounted. Thick pillars and intruding head restraints do all-round vision no favours, either - the optional rear parking sensors are a boon.
  
   The enveloping and supportive back seat is splendid for two, with ample leg-stretching space and kneeroom, but headroom isnít over-generous. Avoid the Ďoccasionalí centre seat if you can - itís a lot less comfortable.
  
   Although the boot is already a reasonable size, the 60/40 divided back seats fold to provide additional carrying capacity. If youíre a serious cargo carrier, thereís also a Touring (estate car) version on offer.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
LIKES ...
  • clearly legible dials and info readouts
  • effective climate control, plus extra cooler air
  • hi-fi includes cassette player and CD
  • shelves have rubber mats to prevent rattles
  • synchromesh on reverse gear
and GRIPES
  • big shoes contact trim above pedals
  • ignition switch not illluminated
  • hi-fi remote controls too smooth - finger slips off
  • CD autochanger fills (non-locking) glovebox
  • 'supertallic' paintwork costs £1000 extra
VERDICT
This turbo engine really spices up the 1.8ís performance and makes it a very entertaining, tax-friendlier alternative to the 2.5 V6. Donít, however, expect a taut-handling, sharp-steering chassis to go with it - even the 1.8T remains true to the 75ís core values of comfort, composure and old-fashioned elegance. If you want chutzpah with your horsepower, thereís always the MG ZT; sensibly, MG-Rover allows you to choose.


BRIEF SPECIFICATION
engine 1796cc, 4 cylinder petrol with turbocharger and intercooler; 150bhp at 5500rpm, 159 lb ft at 2100rpm
drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 22.9mph/1000rpm in 5th, 18.0 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs, sub-frame mounted; anti-roll bar
rear: Z-axle with coil springs and dampers, trailing and transverse links; anti-roll bar
wheels/tyres 6.5in alloy with 215/55R16W tyres (Continental EcoContact CP on test car); temporary use spare wheel
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with electronic ABS and brake force distribution
CO2 emissions 193g/km
0-62mph* 9.1sec AA 30-70mph 8.5 sec
official mpgß 25.0/46.3/35.3 AA typical mpg 30mpg
* maker's figure  ß urban/extra urban/combined

THE 75 RANGE
size and type premium-priced, upper-medium saloon and estate car   trim levels Classic/SE, Club/SE, Connoisseur/SE
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.8 litre/120bhp, 4/1.8/150, V6/2.5/177
diesel: 4/2.0/116, 4/2.0/130
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (5-speed stepped automatic with torque converter optional on all models except 1.8T - available later)
notable features option packs include xenon headlamps with power wash, heated screenwash jets, rear parking sensors, auto-dimming mirror, rain-sensing wipers, sat-nav plus television


HOW THE 75 1.8T COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Rover 75 1.8T 4/1796/150 3060 8.5 13.9/21.0 30/193 13/27 114 104/77 3.2/11.5 475
Jaguar X-Type 2.0SE 4/2099/157 3140 10.3 17.8/26.0 29/219 18/25.5 110 100/75 2.7/10.8 467
Mercedes-Benz C200K 4/1998/163 2820 8.0 12.6/16.8 30.5/228 19/23 118 98/75 2.9/10.4 453
Renault Vel Satis 2.0T 4/1998/165 2860 9.3 13.3/17.8~ 28/225 18/25.5 112 104/79 3.2/11.1 486
VW Passat 1.8T Sport 4/1781/150 3060 8.4 15.0/20.8 34/199 14/26 110 101/74 2.8/11.0 470
Volvo S60 2.0T S 5/1984/180 2880 8.4 15.3/20.0 30/218 16/25 115 98/73 3.0/11.5 458
  ~ 6th 23.3
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