The search is on…

Keith Adams 

Rover 600

Rover 600: the ultimate low maintenance four-door?

I know it sounds daft but, after spending months sorting out my Saab 9000 Aero, I’m thinking of moving it on. Not because I want to, of course – but, in these tough times, driving a car that pushes out around 300bhp for what these days seems to be a short commute to the office and back seems like an unreasonable luxury considering I also have my V8-powered Polski-Rover SD1 to play with. 

It also might seem a little illogical to consider waving goodbye to my Saab after rescuing it – windscreenless – from a field in Somerset, but there you go. Needs must, though, and having more than one high maintenance thoroughbred on the fleet is never going to work… and getting rid of the Rover is not an option at the moment. 

OK, so, with that tough decision made, what should I replace the Saab with? 

Funnily enough, my initial thoughts aren’t with the economical supermini or newer hot-hatch, but with a middle-aged saloon. After driving around in a JDM Honda Accord (1997, I think) while in New Zealand, I did start thinking about something like this. A boring sensible and ultimately competent saloon that does what it says on the tin without offending anyone. 

You can’t, of course, find one of these in the UK, so its Euro equivalent must be high on the list but, as we all know, the 1990s Accord was pretty much identical to the Rover 600 under the skin, so the Cowley car must be a consideration. Mind you, I’m bored of de-rusting cars, so it would need to be a good one. 

Other considerations include the Nissan Primera – a vastly underrated car in my book – but the Mk1 model is the one for me and finding one of those now is getting very difficult indeed. Then there’s the Avensis, which shows that the British can build an utterly bullet-proof car. Finally, from the Eurozone, there’s the Peugeot 406 and Citroen Xantia which, although not being quite as reliable as their Japanese-badged counterparts, more than make it up in the driving pleasure stakes. 

There you are then – a boring four- or five-door saloon with plenty of life left in it please. Sorry, but I guess that’s where we’re at right now. 

Any other suggestions?

Posted in: AROnline Blogs
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

13 Comments on "The search is on…"

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  1. Rob C says:

    Keith, consider a diesel one – the L-Series is a cracking engine but, having said that, my 620 was still going strong at 358,000 miles.

  2. Neil Turner says:

    Having owned a Mk1 Primera 1.6, a Mk2.5 (bug eye) 1.8 Sport and 3 Mk2 GT’s, I can say you wouldn’t be disappointed. They are still up in my top 3 all round favorites – the latest 3-Series and my old C2C Volvo 850 being the other 2.

    The thing about the GT models, in particular, is that they are actually quicker than they feel, the handling is very neutral, lift off over steer being quite easy but controllable and, on top of that, if you don’t want to be bouncing off the 7200 limiter (7600 on Mk1 models) they easily do 40mpg…

    I love BL/Rover/MG products but, for an all-round track/fun/daily car, the Primera GT can’t be beaten.

    By the way, have you considered a Volvo S40 T4?


  3. David says:

    The Rover 600 Series is a vastly underrated car that, even now eleven and a half years after the last one rolled off the production line, is still not attracting a big following amongst enthusiasts compared to other Rover models.

    Elegant and understated styling, a comfortable yet involving ride, impressive build quality and a range of lively engines, this is a modern Rover that will mature rather than date over time. A GSi trim level with alloy wheels (should be a mandatory feature on all Rovers) and the Lightstone leather interior would make for a worthy motorway muncher.

  4. Garethsd1 says:

    I loved my Rover 600 DI until it was written off in February this year. If you decide on a diesel, get the one with Bosch fuel management system rather than the MEMS (Motorola) version. Bosch cars are noticeably quicker but just as economical. I would also recommend trying to find a late one – they seem to be less rusty and better put together.

    Mind you, Keith, I expect you’re looking for a Ti again…?

  5. Chris Chapman says:

    The 600 was regarded at Rover as a pretty car (which really annoyed Honda once they saw how much better it was compared to the bland Accord) but slightly let down by its interior. Mazda Xedos? Ford Mondeo? Honda Legend?

  6. 406v6 406V6 says:

    Sorry Keith, can’t see your logic here. Surely not money saving? With the Saab sorted, why get rid of it and spend money sorting out another medium-sized car?

    If it’s a case of saving money, I would have said keep the Saab. You might spend money on fuel and tyres but the repair budget ought to be low by now otherwise chop it in for a small car (R 111) that gives a good fuel consumption and tyre cost.

    However, if on the other hand, the real reason is that you’re bored then let your imagination run riot. You’ve had Xantias before so why not try a 406 (you would expect me to say that wouldn’t you), even a 2-door coupe and especially the gorgeous V6 variants. A 406 V6 ought to be as reliable as any other 10 year old car provided it has been looked after.

  7. paul isaacs says:

    As you have a very busy life and already have a “fun” car in the Polski Rover why not keep things simple and predictable? Pretty reliable,cheap to buy, lots on the road, easy to fix, safe – for a car of that vintage, lots of spares available, and while we are at it, good to drive. So which model of Mondeo will it be?

  8. Richard Fleming says:

    Rover 600 good idea, ive just recently swopped my Rover 200 for a 600 and im impressed. Ive always admired its understated classiness. Its a very comfortable and reasonably economical car to drive and fun to drive on country lanes too which surprised me with it being a big saloon car.

    The only complaints I have are the extra £50 to tax it for 6 months and a £150 increase in my insurance.

    Overall it wouldnt be a bad swop for your Saab.

  9. Will says:


    406 is similar to the Xantia without the hydraulic suspension. D9 (facelift) is a handsome alternative to vectras, mundanos. Coupe is gorgeous.
    HDis are fairly economical and reliable if looked after.

    Vel Satises (Satii?) are going from the £2500 mark.

    Volvo S40, as mentioned. Or the newer Saab 95?

    Ex-taxi Skoda Superb?

    Mazda 6?

    Toyota Camry / Lexus LS?

  10. Richard says:

    Sorry to disagree but the Avensis is a big let down-absolutely not ‘bullet proof’.My Doctor friend bought a new UK built 1.8 Estate and suffered varios faults such as faulty headlamps,seat trim material splitting,plastic trim breaking and ultimately a total bottom end failure at 80,000 kilometers.Toyota Hungary accapted 90% of the cost even though it was just out of its 3 year warranty,admitting this was a known fault on 1.8 cars.
    The recent scandals prove that Toyota relied too much on its reputation,something that can easily be lost.

  11. VAG Dave says:

    Personally I’d hang onto the Saab – but if its a boredom thing (don’t worry we’ve all been there)then I’d agree with some of the other posts on here and go for a X/Y plate onwards Mondeo 1.8 or 2.0.

    Nice and cheap excellent to drive easy to fix, chain cam engine etc etc. I got the better half a mint 51 plate 1.8 for £1600 a few months back – the second I’ve owned. They really are that good!

    If you’re not swayed by the Ford then I’d like to add the Renault Laguna to your list. My other half had a late mk 1 (1.6) for 4 years which was decent to drive – and very economical (justifying the lower cost thing!).

  12. Tim_Burgess Tim Burgess says:

    There’s a lovely looking V reg 623GSi on Eblag at the moment for £800 – 87k and an interesting shade of green with grey leather. IIRC it’s in Wisbech, not far from you Keith.

    I can see the appeal of the 600 – understated class, this one looks like a bargain to me.

  13. Tim says:

    The 600 is a nice enough car to drive but its a galloper not a sprinter, unless you get the Turbo I assume. The Honda petrol engined 600s are very thirsty too. You’d do a lot worse than a 2.0 x/y onwards Mondeo as Dave says.

    Far fetched suggestion… E39 5 series, but find one that hasn’t been clocked (something I failed in doing). The auto’s manage 35mpg on a run, 25 around. Cheap cars now, and mad sales reps/white van man stil seem to give them a bit of respect on the road, unlike most 1990s Rovers alas.

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