1989 Rover 200-Series
In 1989, the 200 range appeared with the Rover K-Series engine (intially in 95PS form), with the upper range 216 models featuring the single-cam Honda D-Series engine. Initial range looked like this: 214Si, 214SLi, 214GSi, 216SLi, 216GSi (oh, how simple it looked back then…) The classy five-door soon picked up a following with buyers looking for something more appealing than the run of the mill Escorts and Astras…
1990 Rover 400-Series
In 1990, Rover announced the four-door version of the R8 200, which they called the 400 range. Initially with the 1.4-litre K-Series engine and the 1.6-litre Honda D-Series in single cam (114PS) and twin-cam (130PS) guise. The twin-cam engine used in the Honda CRX debuted in the Rover range, in the outwardly sadate looking 416GTi…
1990 200-Series range additions
The 200-Series also received the Honda twin-cam in 1990, to create the 216GTi 16V. This five door model looked similar to the 416GTi 16V, but it featured a sports interior with part leather upholstory and uprated springs and dampers.
1990 200-Series 3-door
At the end of 1990, the three-door version of the 200-Series was launched. Featuring an unusual C-post arrangement, it looked somewhat different to the opposition offerings. The introduction of the 214 three-door saw the introduction of the 8-Valve SPi version of the K-Series engine (first used in the Metro) in a new entry-level model called the 214i. This engine was introduced in the five-door model at the same time.
Higher powered versions of the three-door would soon follow – with GTi badged single-cam and twin-cam 1.6-litre models (September 1990). More would follow later…
1991 Rover 200/400-Series
A new season saw the introduction of the PSA 1.8-litre turbodiesel and 1.9-litre diesel engined 218SD, SLD, 418SLD, GSD in normally aspirated and turbocharged forms. The 400 also became available in all-over body colour, as opposed to the duotones previously available. Later in the year (September), the 220 GTi 16V sports hatchback was launched in three-door form – initially, these were fitted with M16 engines…
1991 Rover 200-Series cabriolet
The fourth R8 body variation was devised to compete with the Ford Escort and Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, and proved popular with buyers looking for a home-grown alternative. Initially available with the Honda D-Series twin-cam engine, it received further engine options later in its life.
1992 Rover 200/400-Series
In 1992, the 200 and 400 ranges received a light facelift. Model range was expanded to include the two-litre T16 engine in 136PS form (to replace the shortlived M16 version that appeared earlier in the year in the first 220GTi models), and a slight realignment of the trim and model designations. 214 models received an uprated version of the K-Series engine, which upped power slightly. The 400 outwardly looked the most different because it received the company’s new corporate chrome plated grille and deeper front bumper – and on the 400 only, smoked rear lenses. Both ranges also sported new wraparound front indicator
1992 Rover 200 Coupe
At the end of 1992, the popular coupe version of the 200-Series appeared, cashing in on the burgeoning popularity of this style of car. Known by all as the Tomcat (after its development codename), the Coupe version was a two-door car, and shared its bootlid and smooth numberplate surround panel with the recently-launched cabriolet. At the time of its launch, it allied to the 200, meaning it didn’t get the chrome radiator grille, although it had smoked rear lenses from the start.
Engine choices were limited to the Honda D-Series 1.6-litre engine and the T-Series two-litre engine in normally aspirated and (new to the R8) 200PS turbocharged form. The 220 Coupe Turbo remains quick, even today…
1993 Rover 200-Series range alterations.
A year after the 400 was grilled-up, the 200-Series followed suit,
seeing the addition of the nasal appendage on three- and five-door 200-Series
cars, the cabriolet and the Coupe.
Sports and Turbos added…
1993 also saw more 200- and 400-Series models receiving the turbo engine from the 220 Turbo Coupe. Very few actually escaped from the showrooms, and they are now very rare models indeed. 220 and 420 Sport models also appeared, and although they featured standard T-Series engines, they came with sports interiors and side-skirts.
1994 Rover 400 Tourer
The Sixth and final R8 derivative arrives, and proves to be a popular addition to the fleet. Although it is not a load lugger in the true sense of the word, it is capacious enough to compete with the likes of the 3-Series Touring and Audi 80 Avant. No lowly 1.4-litre cars are offered, underling the fact this is a lifestyle accessory, not a rival for the Escort Estate.
1994 Rover 214 SEi
A run-out model, which saw all of the nicer bits of trim being fitted to the lower models in the 200-Series range. The 400/Tourer/Cabriolet front bumper was added, as were higher levels of interior trim. It proved popular – with many finding homes in the UK.
1996 R8 range gets stuck in a niche…
With the arrival of the R3 and HH-R models as replacements, the Cabriolet, Tourer and Tomcat remained in production until 1998, as no new-generation replacements were planned. These cars received the later R3 style dash (which remains largely unchanged into 2005) and a mainly K-Series engine lineup (1.6-litre automatics maintained the Honda engine and gearbox). The 1.6-litre models were supplemented by the 1.8-litre K-Series VVC – only to be found in the later Tomcat as a replacement for the brawny T-Series Turbo…
…and here’s the Honda version
Honda didn’t exploit the Concerto in anywhere near the same way, and as a result, didn’t sell in the numbers the R8 did in the UK.
They seemed to lack the classy colour/trim combinations of the Rover version. Today, they seemed to have survived in better shape, and most of them seem to be the Twin Cam version!
All pictures from TODAY’S CARS, page contributed by Matthew Hayward.
With clarifications from Alistair Quigley and Alexander Boucke.
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.