The first Honda to wear a Rover badge wasn’t the 213… but the Rover Quintet, an intriguing Far Eastern offering.
Paul Guinness tells us what he knows.
Rover Quintet: the first Ronda…
James Wittridge, who has kindly supplied us with some fascinating old advert and brochure images recently, managed to stop us in our tracks with this particular contribution. You see, we were already familiar with the Honda Quintet, the Accord-based five-door hatchback that went on sale in the UK back in 1981. That was at about the same time that the Honda Ballade-based Triumph Acclaim was being readied for launch, although the Quintet was only ever available as a Honda.
Or so we thought. In fact, as you’ll see from this brochure, there was also a version known as the Rover Quintet, although solely for Australian consumption and sold through Jaguar Rover Australia dealers in the early 1980s. This was badge-engineering at its most basic, with effectively no changes made to the 1602cc four-cylinder Honda Quintet to transform it into a Rover. Heck, there wasn’t even a Rover-style front grille grafted on for good measure. But that doesn’t make it any less fascinating.
We all assumed that the Rover 213 and 216 models of 1984 onwards were the first Rover-badged ex-Honda models to hit the market anywhere in the world. But we were wrong. That honour now goes to the Japanese-built Rover Quintet – and we’re particularly grateful to James for bringing it to our attention.
‘A superb car: plush and well appointed’
Paul Kenny from Victoria in Australia, owns this mint 1984 example. ‘We own this 1985 Rover Quintet (as well as an 827 Sterling and 827 Vitesse), and it’s a superb little car, very plush and well appointed for it’s time. It is pretty much identical to the Honda Quintet sold elsewhere and is very similar in many areas to the Triumph Acclaim and Honda Accord. Ours is in ‘as new’ condition with all original features such as air cond/power steering, tinted electric windows and wood laminates.
‘The little Rover is very well built, the doors shut with a satisfying thunk. There is a ‘solidity’ about it that is usually lacking in vehicles of this era. On the road, performance is lively with a 1602cc Honda in line four with a three-speed semi-automatic gearbox. Economy is fantastic. The car is bullet proof, it never lets us down in any way. A simple, delightful little gem. They are still relatively common on the roads here in Australia, the last one being built in 1986. At the time, JRA Limited (Jaguar Rover Australia) were offering the Quintet plus the V8 SE2 (SD1), the local version of the 416 (Honda Integra) and the mighty 800 series was imminent.
‘Sadly, JRA went ‘pop’ in 1993. No Rovers were available here again until the release of the Rover 75 in 2000, though curiously Rovers were available in New Zealand right through the 1990s. Now, of course, no Rovers can be had new anywhere! We reckon our Rovers will outlive us. We are delighted with them all. Reliable, stylish, comfortable and are very exclusive here in Oz.’