Our Cars : Rover 600 one month on…
It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Rover 600 which I’ve had the good fortune to be smoking around in. Purchased for the price of a nice weekend away in Scarborough, the commodious saloon has done everything that’s been asked of it and quite a lot more besides. It’s whisked me around the home counties on various jobs without a bother, backing up my recently-formed opinion that this is the best used Rover money can buy in the real world.
Not because it’s exciting or interesting – because clearly it isn’t – but because it’s so damned dependable. I get in, check the mirrors, turn the key and away it goes. Trust me, after some of the cars I’ve owned, this is a very big deal indeed. It’s not perfect, of course: the seats lack support and the performance is acceptable for a two-litre saloon – but only if you’re prepared to wring its neck and it hardly sounds pleasant when you do that. A T16 motor would do the job so much better, although it’s rather heavier, and would make it understeer even more.
In terms of dynamics, I’m not entirely convinced about the 1-2-1 damping. It’s soft and comfortable on less challenging roads, but does seem to fall apart when things get rough. As for the steering – feel, what feel? Fuel consumption’s okay, but hardly brilliant – on longer runs, it’s been doing 32mpg but, on commuting days, that plummets to 26mpg. However, as I’d bought this as a care-free no-brainer saloon to jump into, I’m not complaining too much really – at least everything works, which is magical on a car of this age!
There’s one huge downside, though – and that’s the way other people treat you on the road. Okay, I live in the chav-central part of the East Midlands, but I’ve been tailgated, cut-up and raced from the lights far too much. Given that I bought this as a car to drive while my brain’s in neutral, that’s a big downside.
Interestingly, I’ve recently bought a Volkswagen Golf TDI Mk4 for similar money – which is a fair bit tattier – and am not subjected to the same daily tortures. It’s enlightening, for sure – and slightly depressing. After all, if you own a Rover 600 in France or Italy, you’re seen as someone with a refined taste for understated elegance. In the UK, you’re seen as a loser. It’s certainly taken the sheen off owning this great, rational, bargain saloon…