Archive : The New Rover 75 – One Of Britain’s Fine Cars


The British International Motor Show sees the world debut of one of the most important new cars to be launched in Britain for many years – the new Rover 75. It is an all-new, luxurious British saloon car engineered with style and substance, a car of character and individuality.


Rover 75 represents a significant moment in the history of the Rover brand. It is the first Rover to be designed wholly ‘in-house’ for over two decades and the first to emerge as a result of BMW’s ownership of Rover Group. It has been designed to be a step beyond pure functional excellence, exhibiting superb engineering and build quality, the result of a £700 million investment that includes a brand new factory in Oxford.

Rover has combined the creative spirit of its own new design and development teams at Gaydon, in the heart of England, with the unmatched technological resource of the BMW Group to produce a quintessentially British, forward looking, luxury saloon. The design has been created to achieve timeless appeal while the extremely rigid body ensures that it is a joy to drive.

Nick Stephenson, Rover Group director of design and engineering said, “This is the car we had to make- For us, life will never be the same again. We hope that the Rover 75 will change how people see us – and re-establish Rover’s reputation for pure motoring pleasure.”

The Rover 75 combines modem aesthetics and technology within classic proportions. The car’s elegance recalls Rovers of the past; it is a true thoroughbred with detailing that is an evolutionary interpretation of a heritage that lies at the heart of the British motor industry. In Rover 75, Rover’s instinctive understanding of the spirit of motoring pleasure has reached its ultimate expression.

The motto ‘One of Britain’s Fine Cars’ was used by the Rover Company from the 1930’s to the 1950’s – it is equally appropriate for Rover 75 today.

Careful design detailing and elegant styling, both inside and out, are hallmarks of this great British brand. Examples on Rover 75 include the use of chrome on the aerodynamic door mirrors, bumper and bodyside inserts and the sill finisher, along with the rear number plate surround that is actually a spoiler – a component with a real aerodynamic purpose. Inside, materials such as chrome, soft leather and real wood are used as an integral part of the design.

The Rover 75 Design


Attention to detail, coupled with creativity and engineering integrity, has created one of the most refined cars in the world. Rover 75 is designed with a single goal, to take the stress out of driving and put the pleasure back into motoring.

The car is 4.75 metres long. It is large enough to accommodate four adults in extreme comfort, yet compact enough to retain rewarding manoeuvrability for today’s crowded roads. By providing a supremely refined and effortless motoring experience, Rover 75 redefines ‘travelling in style’, delivering advanced levels of comfort, safety, security, performance and reliability.

The exterior design is outstanding from every angle and the inferred solidity inspired the engineering team to emulate its looks in the car’s dynamic performance. Rover 75’s purity comes from being designed by one man with one vision; for Richard Woolley, studio director – Rover Cars Design, there was only ever one Rover 75. He said, “I am convinced that this car will re-kindle a pride of ownership that, when you have parked it, will make you feel the need to glance back as you walk away. Above all, it has a soul.”


Wyn Thomas, chief designer, interior said, “On the inside, Rover 75 makes a bold new design statement. It is all new and unlike any other in its class. It is where Rover’s reputation for stylish interiors is applied with real conviction.”

The striking interior design has a tangible solidity which stems from the use of traditional materials in a very contemporary way. Cool chrome, soft leather and real wood are used as an integral part of the design, not as an afterthought. They become an integral part of the car’s character rather than just applied character. Focal points are the dashboard and the console. The wood veneer is both attractive and functional. For example, it houses the full-size passenger airbag. Careful attention has also been paid to storage capability in order to provide useful stowage space.

Even working within the tight constraints of airbag packaging, the interior design team has managed to retain the hallmark Rover dashboard shelf

An integrated telephone, a choice of two navigation systems, a ‘concert hall’ audio system and fully automatic air conditioning are just some of the features that will be available in Rover 75.

The instruments are also striking in both their design and execution. They deliver precise information through careful use of graphics against the traditional parchment back and colour. The night-time illumination is equally striking with the instruments backlit in orange. The steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach and the seats, although capable of carrying five in comfort, are designed to reflect the style of a four seat grand tourer.

The front header console has assumed more prominence in Rover 75 than in recent Rover products. Its futuristic style fits perfectly with the striking nature of the interior design, yet is fully functional. It houses a microphone for the integrated telephone option as well as courtesy and map lamps and the sunroof switch.


The development of Rover 75 made full use of leading edge technology to provide a new level of body rigidity – over 2.5 times that of Rover 600. 40% of the body is constructed from high strength steels of new’ formulation.

Eliminating body distortion allows precise and consistent suspension geometry and lasting freedom from squeaks and rattles. It dramatically improves refinement by minimising panel flexing and booming, producing an impact resistant passenger compartment surrounded by energy absorbing zones for increased crash protection. Driving the car produces an instant feeling of ‘hewn from solid’.

A great deal of attention has also been paid to the science of insulation and the suppression of wind, road and engine noise, including the specification of a triple door sealing system and a full double bulkhead between the engine and passenger compartments. The combined strengths of Rover and BMW acoustics engineers have created a car that will lead its class in interior noise quality.


Intuitive driving pleasure comes from controls that fall easily to hand, excellent visibility and constant but unobtrusive feedback.

The dashboard layout ensures that controls fall easily to hand and all switches have a reassuringly solid feel. The driver’s seat is height adjustable and includes a lumbar support feature. Electric windows, powered and heated door mirrors and an extremely efficient heating and ventilation system all add to driving pleasure.

But it is in the chassis design and dynamic control that the car becomes really engaging for driver and passengers. The front suspension is by MacPherson struts, mounted on a perimeter frame. This mounting system has resulted in impressive levels of isolation and refinement which will redefine the class.

At the rear, a subframe mounted Z-axle ensures precise control and contributes to sharp, yet predictable, handling and a smooth, supple ride. Coupled with the stiff and virtually inert body structure, the isolation is exceptional over ridges, potholes, raised manhole covers and cats eyes. The fatigue and discomfort of driving over these road irregularities is something that the Rover 75 occupant is unlikely ever to experience.

Extensive computer modelling has ensured that the development of a refined ride has not sacrificed enjoyable handling characteristics or masked feedback. The suspension system is designed to allow drivers of varying ability to maintain safe control up to very high limits.

The all-disc brake system features the latest generation 4-sensor AB S and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) maximises rear brake efficiency under all road and load conditions.


Four engines make up the range for Rover 75, the petrol engines coming from the highly acclaimed K-series modular family. Most significant are the KV6 Quad Cam 24 valve engines available in both 2.0 litre and 2.5 litre displacements. The KV6 evolution engines have seen major investment and development for Rover 75 with many components being redesigned or new. KV6 has moved from a low volume special facility to a new high capacity production line reflecting the greater volume requirement for this and forthcoming new Rover Group products.

The 2.0 litre capacity unit is new for Rover 75, offering smooth power delivery and exceptional refinement. It develops 150Ps at 6500 RPM with 185Nm of torque. The 2.5 litre version delivers 175Ps and 24ONm.

The third engine in the line-up is the 1.8 litre four cylinder variant of K-Series, already well established as one of the world’s greatest four cylinder engines. In Rover 75 it develops 120Ps and 16ONm of torque.


The fourth engine in the Rover 75 stable is the first application of BMW Group’s latest generation 2.0 litre diesel with the revolutionary common rail fuel system the 2.0 litre CDT. It develops 115Ps at 4000 RPM and 260Nm of torque at 2000 RPM. Using the Bosch system, fuel is delivered by a high pressure pump feeding a joint pressure chamber (common rail).

Very high pressure with precise electronic control optimises combustion and emissions performance, offering a new diesel experience by eliminating diesel ‘clatter’. With exhilarating performance and unprecedented refinement, the CDT will redefine diesel motoring at the quality end of the upper medium sector.


With each engine comes the choice of state of the art gearboxes – manual or automatic. The Rover 75 is the only transverse engine front wheel drive car to offer a five-speed automatic gearbox.

This fully electronic JATCO unit offers a range of driver selectable and adaptive shift modes including, for example on the diesel, idle in neutral. With this feature, the transmission disengages when the brake pedal is depressed and the vehicle is stationary (e.g. at traffic lights) and engages when the accelerator pedal is depressed.

The gearbox enables the driver to match his or her driving mood to suit the conditions – it knows when it is towing or climbing hills and tells the engine when it is going down hill so that engine braking can be made available. The traction control system ensures precise control over the power to the road wheels under all conditions.

The GETRAG five-speed manual gearbox is also a new development offering slick change quality and excellent refinement.


Engineering innovation in Rover 75 is most evident in the car’s electrical system. The electrical circuitry is highly multiplexed using proven BMW K-bus architecture. The integration of conventional electrical systems into the central network system improves reliability and opens up a new world of customer or market configurable features such as locking/unlocking logic, customised wash/wipe procedures, lazy locking and even daytime running lights.


Rover 75’s structure has been designed to provide the optimum performance in crash situations. Coupled with chassis dynamics that provide predictable behaviour and excellent primary safety, the secondary systems ensure compliance with all known current and expected worldwide safety regulations.

Seat belt pre-tensioners, driver and passenger airbags, thorax protecting side airbags and three position belts with a head restraint at all five seat positions are standard on all models. Further head protection from Front Inflatable Tubular Structure airbags is available as an option. To reduce most-impact fire hazards, the airbag electronics trigger a small charge which disconnects the battery main lead.

As is the tradition with Rover products, a robust alarm and immobiliser are fitted as standard on all versions of Rover 75. The key barrel is of the freewheeling type and locks are cable, rather than rod, operated. Remote locking is via a radio frequency system and incorporates superlocking on all doors.


The Rover 75 comprises a range of cars which offers its customers the option of creating the exact car of their choice. By combining engine, trim level, options and accessory packs, the car can be tailor made for any personal preference or lifestyle.

Full details of the appointments, options and accessories will be available early in

1999 but the following outline gives a clear guide to the choice that is available:

4 advanced engines – 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5 petrol and 2.0 diesel
5 speed manual or 5 speed electronic automatic with all engines
3 levels of appointment
17 exterior colours
5 interior colour schemes
Over 20 factory fit options and over 100 dealer supplied accessories

Standard and optional equipment will include:

Air conditioning (manual and fully automatic)
Anti lock brakes
Cruise control
Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD)
Traction control
Front/side and head protection airbags
Integrated telephone
Choice of two levels of navigation systems
Leather upholstery
Eight different alloy wheel styles
Heated washer jets and headlamp cleaning
A range of audio systems
Folding rear seat
Heated seats


Rover 75 will commence sales in March 1999 and will be available across all established and more recently developed Rover markets. Full details of the range, its appointments and pricing will be announced early in 1999.

The new Rover 75 is positioned as a luxurious British saloon competing against cars such as Audi A4, Alfa Romeo 156 and the Mercedes C Class. It will join the BMW 3 Series to conquest the quality car market.

Final pricing is yet to be confirmed. However, it is likely that prices for the new Rover 75 will start at around £19,000 in the UK.

The Rover 75’s style and character will win custom from a wide variety of products and sectors. These will range from those trading up from a highline mainstream product such as Mondeo and Vectra to those moving from existing premium upper medium products such as Audi A4 and the C Class as well as those changing from established executive competitors such as Vauxhall/Opel Omega, Renault Safrane and the Audi A6.

The Rover Car – A Brief History

The Rover brand has been at the heart of the British motor industry since 1904.

The Rover Group is also heir to the traditions of many other famous British car brands that have become entwined over a century of car manufacture. Each of these marques has contributed to the history of the British motor industry.

From the early days of the Rover Car Company in Coventry in the heart of England, the brand has been renowned for innovative design and high quality. The early Rover cars quickly built an excellent reputation offering affordable, small popular cars as well as the medium sized cars for which the company became more famous.

The motto ‘One of Britain’s Fine Cars’ was used by Rover from the 1930’s to the 1950’s but is equally appropriate today. Careful design, elegant styling and quality manufacture brought the marque to the forefront of Britain’s car market.

After the Second World war, when exports started in earnest, Rover cars became respected by an international audience, attracting favourable notice in European and North American markets as well as the far-flung outposts of the Commonwealth.

The famous P4 range, introduced in 1949, saw the introduction of the- Rover 75, although the designation ’75’ had also been used on the previous P3 model. The car cost £1106. The ‘Cyclops’ Rover (so called because of its centrally mounted foglamp) was the forerunner of one of the most successful of Rover’s car ranges and it would be this 75 that, until now, was the best remembered. The P4 range went on to be produced with various modifications up to May 1964 with the 75 model surviving until 1959.

Press reports described the 1949 Rover 75 as ‘Altogether a car of superlative charm’ and ‘a car to which very great thought has been effectively applied, to details as well as the major objectives of excellent handling, unusual refinement, a notable turn of speed and prolonged trouble free life – the notable smoothness and mechanical silence of the car extended throughout the (speed) range’; words that could well be applied to the Rover 75 of 1999.

The P4 range was supplemented by the luxurious P5 model and then the revolutionary P6 – the very first Car Of The Year. A close look at the seating style and layout of the P6 will show how that design inspired the seating of today’s Rover 75.

1976 saw the introduction of yet another Rover Car Of The Year, the SDI range of five door executive hatchback models.

1986 heralded yet another milestone for Rover with the introduction of the Rover 800. With it would come a new company name – Rover Group – introducing a decade of change and a return to Rover core values.

None would be more symbolic than the return of the classic grille in November 1991. Carefully designed in a contemporary style, the grille put an instant ‘face’ on all Rover products, reinforcing Rover Group’s identity as a manufacturer of classic yet modem motor cars.

Today, Rover Group is Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. Industry leading design, engineering and manufacturing techniques and major investment on new model. programmes has resulted in a world-class generation of vehicles.

The latest and greatest Rover 75 takes ‘One of Britain’s Fine Cars’ into the new millennium.

Keith Adams

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