Rover 45 (2000) | CARkeys

12 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Rover 45 (2000) | CARkeys

Rover 45

review

by Ross Finlay (13 December 1999)

When the mid-range Rover 45 goes on sale in January . customers won’t be able to complain about lack of choice. There will be four petrol engines – four-cylinder K-series designs in 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8-litre sizes, plus that smooth two-litre KV6 as used in the 75 – and a two-litre turbo diesel.

Plenty of transmissions too, catering for people who like to swap their own cogs, or prefer a conventional automatic with a five-speed Steptronic side, or are what many observers regard as confused thinkers enthralled by the idea of a CVT with half a dozen Steptronic holds.

The five-speed Steptronic, made by Jatco of Japan, will be standard with the V6, and the European-built CVT is reserved for the 1.8.

Rover is offering five trim levels on the five-door versions, three on the saloons, three principal option packs, 15 mainstream individual options and a load of accessories. There’s a wide range of exterior colours, better colour-coding of the interiors – but better than what? The discontinued 400, of course.

Just as the 25 is a modified 200, so the 45 is an improved 400. Despite the new four-headlamp front end, revised colour schemes, better instruments, new transmissions, and advanced electrical systems as developed for the 75, there’s a very familiar body shape and interior layout.

The interior is certainly quite dignified in fit and finish, textures and trim. Rover knows what it’s doing here. For some reason, though, there’s an unnecessarily clumsy gearlever knob.

At the top of the range, the KV6 engine is a smooth performer, and its 147bhp is a healthy power output for a car of this compact size. To begin with, at any rate, there will be no manual option.

It’s curious that the performance levels of both the two-litre and the 1.8 are strangled to a certain extent, because Rover insists on fitting them with automatic transmissions. And they’d be a lot more economical with manual gearboxes.

If you want economy, though, the uprated 99bhp L-series turbo diesel manages 66mpg on the extra urban cycle and 52mpg combined. It runs well, with good mid-range pull.

Out on the road, as far as feel is concerned, the big change is the effect of the modified suspension and steering. Firmer springs and dampers, altered strut mountings, new anti-roll bar arrangements, different wheel and tyre combinations, retuned power steering – all these things play their part.

Rover’s chassis engineers wanted to give the 45 better dynamics than the 400, and short drives in a couple of models suggested that they’ve certainly done that. The new car feels sportier and better poised, although a certain amount of ride quality may have been lost.

That’s maybe over-stating it. At least, you seem to be more aware of surface texture changes.

As with the 25, the question is whether all the under-the-skin improvements will make enough potential customers feel that a familiar-looking car qualifies as a really new one.

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