I’VE NOW been a Rover 75 owner for five months and 5000 miles, and I reckon it’s about time to take stock. After a year or so behind the wheel of the fine-handling 200bhp rocket, also known as a Rover Vitesse Sport Coupe, adapting to life in the slow lane in my 75CDT has been something of a culture shock.
Once, we had acceleration, now we have a gradual build up of momentum…
Once, we had roll-free cornering and feelsome steering, now we have lean and an anaesthetized wheel…
Once, we had head turning looks, now we merge into the background…
By the sound of it, you all must think I hate my 75. In a way, it is how I felt at the beginning of the partnership – it didn’t feel special in any way, and although the interior and exterior designs are both outstandingly good, the lack of leather and a gadget count, meant a real sense of loss in the gee-wow department. Initial feelings centred around the lack of noise on the motorway, and an average fuel consumption of 47mpg. I justified my continued life with the 75 purely on cost grounds… after all, I was saving a packet driving this thing, and if I went on any long journey, it was a guaranteed stress reducer.
However, as a self-confessed petrolhead, these were not the kind of things I wanted to tell other people (or myself): ‘Yes, I know the car’s a bore, but it is cheap to run, don’t you know…’
After a year or so behind the wheel of the
fine-handling 200bhp rocket, also known as
a Rover Vitesse Sport Coupé, adapting to
life in the slow lane in my 75CDT has been
something of a culture shock.
As time progressed, the 75 went on to worm its way into my affections, though, and although it’s never going to float my boat like a ZT 260 V8, it is a car of depth, and one which could be described as being a cerebral choice.
For one – the chassis is astoundingly capable. Initial feelings are of a car possessing a soft ride, too much body roll, and the ability to squeal its tyres when flicked into sharp, low speed corners at unsuitable speed. Slightly numb steering, and an over-large wheel do little to alleviate that feeling of unwieldiness. But give it time and adapt your driving accordingly, and the overall package soon impresses.
For one, it has the most benign way of letting you know it is reaching its limits – it doesn’t understeer and scrub off speed as you would expect, but the rear moves out to neutralize any impending slide. The first time I encountered this – on a damp thrash up the B660 – I thought the tail was going to snap, and prepared to countersteer, but instead, the rear moved just enough to assist in the process of getting round the corner without alarming me at all. Very impressive.
It was a very interesting experience, and one which opened my eyes to just how sophisticated the suspension set-up is in this car.
So, you don’t hustle the car through corners, you simply feed it through, and once mastered, you can cover ground extrememly quickly without ever feeling rushed. Combine this fiendishly clever suspension set-up with a low-revving and extremely well-insulated diesel engine and low overall levels of wind and road noise, and you end up with a car, which can lull the least relaxed passenger into a real sense of security. In short, it can go quickly without ever feeling stressed.
A car, then, which might not grab one by the balls on a quick road test, but given time and understanding, makes for a very effective way of covering ground quickly and unobtrusively. In a nutshell, you can take the 75 up the roughest A-road, and you can guarantee that whenever you look down at the speedometer, you’ll be going 20mph more than you thought you were…
Not exciting, but effective – and for that reason alone, the 75 has earned its stripes in our household…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.