Rover’s bargain 75 offers class, refinement and ability for not much money.
Richard Dredge gives you the low-down on the front wheel drive models…
|Body style:||4-door, 5-door estate|
|Engine options:||1796cc K-Series, 115bhp|
1796cc K-Series Turbo, 150bhp
1991cc KV6-Series, 150bhp
2497cc KV6-Series, 177bhp
1951cc M47-Series CDT, 116/131bhp
|Transmission options:||5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic|
While the Rover range has had a hard time over recent years, the one model that has stood out is the 75. It may look retro inside and out, but it’s good to drive and well put together. Despite Rover’s recent problems, the 75 makes an excellent used buy – not least of all because you can now get so much more for your money. Buy a Tourer and you get a stylish load carrier – find a ZT260 V8 and you’ll get a bargain Q car that’s guaranteed to become a classic.
|The Rover 75/MG ZT range at a glance|
|June 1999||75 launched with choice of 120bhp 1.8, 150bhp 2.0 V6 or 177bhp|
2.5 V6 petrol units. Also 116bhp 2.0CDT diesel engine available.
All have 5-speed manual gearbox or option of 5-speed auto, and
a choice of Classic (from 10/99), Club or Connoisseur trim levels.
|October 2000||Production of Longbridge 75s commences.|
|October 1999||SE packs available, offering more standard equipment.|
|January 2001||MG ZT and ZT-T launched, initially featuring the same engine range|
as the Rover 75. Ride and handling are suitably tuned, and the
interior/exterior trim packs are given a more sporting emphasis.
|March 2001||Tourer (estate) launched; engines and trims the same as the saloons|
|November 2003||MG ZT 260 V8 is introduced. Available in standard and SE form, as|
well (later) in Tourer form.
|January 2004||Facelift with new grille, bumpers, headlamps and upgraded interior|
|May 2004||V8 introduced in saloon and estate forms with 256bhp 4.6-litre|
engine. 17-inch alloys, climate control, leather trim and heated
seats are standard.
· The 2.0 diesel and 2.5 V6 petrol engines are reliable, but head gasket failure is common on 1.8 petrol engines because of its very low coolant capacity. Small leaks rapidly lead to overheating – the weakest point is the water-heated inlet manifold gasket.
· Make sure you get both keys with the car, and that neither of them have broken. If you have to replace them you could end up paying up to £150 apiece, by the time the necessary reporgramming has been done.
· Make sure all the electrics are working, as there have been reports of electrical problems. Be especially wary of the SRS connector to the seat, leading to the air bags failing – revised connectors are available to dealers to retro fit, eradicating the problem.
· Tyres often wear unevenly, especially at the rear. Some cars were supplied with misaligned suspension when new. It’s always a good idea to check rear tyre wear on early models, the best solution being to get a four-wheel alignment done. Front coil springs are also prone to breaking.
· Cabin can suffer water ingress (with consequent ECU problems) from blocked or kinked plenum chamber drains. This was fixed in later cars by a redesigned front drainage system. Check the three plenum drain points – one on each side and the centre one found at the base of the pollen filter and ECU.
|March 2000||Engine may cut out while the vehicle is being driven|
(cars built 01/02/1998-08/10/1999)
|July 2002||Front suspension spring problems|
(cars built 01/12/1998-27/10/1999)
|May 2004||Possible damage and deflation of tyre due to road spring|
(cars built 27/10/1999-20/02/2002)
There are three service bands (A, B and C), with costs varying depending on whether the car is powered by 4, 6 or 8 cylinders as well as whether it’s petrol, diesel or LPG-powered. The transmission also affects servicing costs – automatics cost more to maintain.
The A-band service is done at 15, 45, 75 and 105,000 miles; the B-band is at 30 and 90,000 while the C band is at 60 and 120,000 miles. An A-band service costs £150 for all models while a B-band service is anywhere between £300 and £400 depending on model. A C-band service can cost up to £520, for an automatic diesel 75.
· Service intervals: 15,000 miles or 12 months, for all models
The pence-per-mile and retained value costs have been thrown into confusion by Rover’s woes – they’re not easy to guess at this stage but they will settle down in time.
· Insurance groups:
o 1.8 Classic 8
o 2.0 V6 Club 11
o 2.5 V6 Connoisseur 14
o 2.0 CDT Club SE 9
o Tourer 2.0 V6 Club 11
· Pence per mile:
o 1.8 Classic 47.8
o 2.0 V6 Club 56.0
o 2.5 V6 Connoisseur 62.8
o 2.0 CDT Club SE 50.6
o Tourer 2.0 V6 Club 59.8
· CO2 emissions (g/km)/tax liability:
o 1.8 Classic 185/19%
o 2.0 V6 Club 228/27%
o 2.5 V6 Connoisseur 225/27%
o 2.0 CDT Club SE 163/18%
o Tourer 2.0 V6 Club 232/28%
The 75 settled down into the market very well indeed. BIK tax beating 150PS 1.8 turbocharged version from August 2002. 215Nm (159 lb ft) torque and low CO2 rating of 193g/km for both saloon and Tourer qualified it for a BIK tax base of 20% of the list price, which worked out at £3659 for the 1.8T Classic and meant a 40% taxpayer forked out £1463.60 a year. The 1.8T gets to 60mph in 9.1 seconds, from 30-50 in 7.1 seconds and from 50-70 in 7.4 seconds. The torque allows the higher 3.9:1 final drive of the 2.5litre to be used, giving 22.6mph per 1000rpm in fifth and a 130mph top speed for the saloon. Official combined consumption is 35.3mpg. Tyres are 195/65 15s giving much better ride quality than low profiles.
XPOWER Power Boost kit for Rover 75 and MG ZT diesels from September 2002 lifts output to 131ps and torque to 300Nm, pulling 0-60 back to ten seconds and giving much better mid range acceleration. Cost £490 from MG Rover dealers. All official Rover ‘new’ CDTis from Feb 2003 chipped to 131PS, but 114bhp CDT continued.
Diesels RECOMMENDED. Report of 215,000 miles from one with minimal trouble.
Spec upgrade for 2005 with Smartnav on all but entry level classic models.
Rovers generally had slightly below average warranty repair costs in 2003 Warranty Direct Reliability index (index 93.69 v/s lowest 31.93), just beating Nissan. Link:- www.reliabilityindex.co.uk All petrol and diesel models average for breakdowns, problems and faults and rated ‘Worth Considering’ in 2003 Which survey.
XPart’s XPower diesel upgrade relaunched November 2007 raises power by 15bhp, reducing the 0-60mph time by up to ten percent. Towing capability is also improved with a 15 percent increase in torque across a wide rev range. Available through XPart’s 240-strong AutoService centre network. XPart’s XPower diesel upgrades are performed using the T4 diagnostic equipment which was utilised by the original MG Rover franchise dealer network and is now standard across XPart’s AutoService centre network.
To perform the upgrade, centres must order an installation pack which is unique to each vehicle. The pack contains a software CD, a one-time use ECU unlock code which is tied to the vehicle’s VIN number and an owner’s certificate of authenticity. Once the pack has been delivered to the AutoService centre the performance upgrade can be made in a matter of minutes. XPart’s diesel upgrade pack is available from any of its 240 AutoService centre or its accessories website (www.xpart-accessories.com) for £199.99 plus VAT and installation.
XPart (www.xpart.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Logistics Services UK Limited, one of the automotive industry’s leading supply chain management companies. It has established a network of more than 240 XPart AutoService centres (www.xpartautoservicecentre.com) across the UK, providing franchise-quality repair at aftermarket rates. Its product range contains more than 33,000 parts for all makes of vehicle and since 2001, it has been responsible for the supply of genuine MG Rover parts.
Exhaust systems from www.longlife.co.uk
08-05-2012: By 2012 Rover 75s and MG ZTs (particularly the 2.0-litre BMW engined diesels) were developing a strong following and values were starting to rise. Not just because of the looks of the car and potential future classic status, but because they are proving to be good long-life cars.
19-05-2012: Reader recommended specialist is of JMA Cars of Colwyn Bay North Wales (T: 01492 535020 / M: 07831 457011) who provide specialised service exclusively to these models of car only.
25-09-2013: Alongside Xpart, www.75-zt.com has developed replacement stainless steel coolant pipes for both the early and later variants of the V6 engine cars. Members have also been developing and improving the Variable Intake System motors for the V6s which tend to fail due to oil ingress. Another project alongside Longlife exhausts has been the development of an OEM quiet stainless exhaust for the 75s. There is now also a quarterly magazine devoted to Rover 75s and MG ZTs.
Only 90% of cars up to 2 years old breakdown-free over previous 12 months in 2004 Which? survey, which is strange because the same survey found the MG ZT and ZT-T 100% breakdown-free and these are the same cars built on the same production lines. Some engine parts for rare 2.0 litre KV6 unavailable.
By March 2007, engine parts for CDTs and CDTIs were becoming slow to come through from BMW. Some parts becoming difficult to get or unavailable by July 2007. For example, engine radiator cooling fans back order to February 2008.
Parking dings in easily damaged slab-side doors.
A nice surprise is that Longbridge cars are better built than Oxford cars with better handling. The easy way to distinguish a Longbridge (MG Rover) built 75 from a Oxford (BMW) built 75 is that Longbridge 75s have body colour sills and Oxford built cars have black sills.
Early Oxford-built black-sill 75s need checking carefully for rust along door bottons and lower edge of boot. They also need checking for rusted front to rear brake pipes (well known problem). All Longbridge cars are fully EOBD compliant (3 oxygen sensors). Check clutch operation if buying a diesel.
Head gasket failure common on 1.8 petrol engines because very low coolant capacity of engine means small leaks rapidly lead to overheating. Weakest point is water heated inlet manifold ‘O’ ring gaskets. 1.8 K Series head gasket failures website link www.shame.4mg.com Bore liners of this engine can also drop. First reported failures of similar failures of KV6 beginning to feed through, but these are still rare. K-Series engine failure class action solicitor is: www.irwinmitchell.com/groupaction/our_work/defective_products/other_products/rover_k-series_engine.asp
Coolant level sensor kit available for the MGF and TF for £89.99 from MG Specialists such as Brown and Gammons (01462 490049) www.ukmgparts.com may also fit Rover 75.
XPart offers the MLS head gasket set which comes with a strengthened lower oil rail and new head bolts, as well as a water pump. In designing the new kit, XPart and SAIC have used a combination of the revised lower oil rail designed by MG Rover engineers, higher tensile 10.9 grade long stretch bolts and a new single piece multi-layer steel gasket engineered by SAIC for its new N-series engine. The gasket should not be fitted in isolation and it is the kit together with revised torque settings that provides the best known repair. The XPart parts warranty only applies when the full kit has been used.
Have been problems obtaining body parts.
Have been problems with broken keys with owners being quoted up to £160 for programmed replacements.
Reports of electrical problems, especially in the electric seat wiring. Battery drains may be from boot light switch failure and boot light remaining on. If you hear a whirring noise after switching off, this comes from the fan unit on the f b heater that has started to run. It should not unless the engine is running and the outside temp. is below 3C. The pcb of the fuel burning coolant pre-heater is the likely problem. This will also drain the battery, simple fix is to unplug the power cord at the heater (plug-in type). Approx cost of new pcb is £300, yes that correct £300, hence the unplugging. (On some models you can have a timer you set so the car is ready to drive off with a nice hot cabin but as Rover was going down the pan they stopped fitting them so not all cdts have them.)
Tend to wear their tyres unevenly, especially their rear tyres. Possibility that some cars were supplied with misaligned suspension, maybe through undetected transporter damage. Rear tyre inner shoulder wear common, especially with lower profile tyres.
Cabin can suffer water ingress as the result of blocked or kinked plenum chamber drains and water from this can damage ECU. Garages frequently remove plenum chamber drain filter plugs to help water drain faster, but if the pipes then get blocked with debris as a result the problem can be worse. Take care that the ventilation plenum chamber drains are not blocked before putting through a carwash, otherwise can flood the ECU which then requires replacing at a cost of £1000.
The two scuttle ventilation plenum chamber drains (later models have one plugged) can become blocked by leaves etc. This allows a water build up wth the car standing during rainfall which can enter the car. Water settles in a well area where the ECU is located and will eventually cause damp/condensation in the ECU.
A few complaints of clutch noise on diesels, especially CDTIs. Cured by new sprung clutch plate.
Some problems emerging with 5-speed autobox on diesels: clutch packs breaking up after 3-4 years.
On automatics, a piston cracks and a third to fourth gear problem shows up, then gradually spreads as the bits from the damaged piston spread. Reverse goes next. and soon there is no drive at all. Reconditioned JATCO five-speed automatic transmissions £900 + VAT from www.ashcroft-transmissions.co.uk
On the 1.8T a coolant hose can chafe through against the turbo with davastating results if the engine loses all its coolant. Check and try to relocate the pipe away from the turbo. Flexible pipe between exhaust manifold and cat converter of the diesel often fails and costs £480 for a pattern part to replace.
Parking brakes are separate small drums inside the rear discs and are very effective (BMW design, as on the BMW 3-Series) but require maintenance to remain effective. The system works very well if the correct sequence of adjustments is carried out. They are extremely fiddly to adjust and highly sensitive to bedding-in of the brake shoes. To keep them working properly you need clean and lubricate the linkages at the hub (using specialist brake grease), then adjust the shoes to binding point, which is somewhat tighter than the official Rover instructions. (Thanks to SK) Alternatively the linings may be worn out or grease from the bearing has contaminated them.
Tips from Matt Hicks:
‘On the KV6 cambelt replacement at 90k miles can be very costly. There are 3 belts, the main belt and then one belt on the rear of each bank from inlet to exhaust. The 75 is more crowded under the bonnet than the ZS/45 and the job is more difficult on this application. I think this is because the 75 has a double bulkhead, thick panels, large inner wings, etc and is BMW-like in its construction in an attempt to limit NVH.
‘Also, the KV6 seems to suffer from the VIS system packing up. Most owners do not seem to realise and merely report “VTEC” like engine characteristics, where the car will surge from certain RPM. The engine uses a plastic inlet plenum, which is a sealed unit and houses two sets of valves for the VIS system. Two motors drive the two sets of “balance” and “power” valves. Oil from the engine breather system seems to cag up these plastic valves and sliders, meaning the small motors which drive them burn out/the plastic rack in the motor wears where the motor jumps teeth trying to shift the stiff valve mechanism.
‘You can change the motor, which may resolve the problem for a short while, until it burns out again. The cure seems to be either taking the manifold off and cleaning it, which is difficult as the thing is sealed, cleaning it up in situ, by taking the motors off and pulling the sliders too and forth while spraying in some carb cleaner or something to get rid of the gunk. Or replacing the manifold (costly and mostly unnecessary).
‘Another common 75 issue, especially as they are getting over 4 or 5 years old is the cooling fan packs up. If someone is not on the ball, low coolant capacity with wet liner construction can mean it heats up very quickly and gives a big bill for a cooked engine.
‘Finally, failure of the fuel pump O ring gaskets is so common on all 75s that AA and RAC patrolmen now routinely replace them as roadside repairs. On CDTs and CDTIs injectors are prone to seizing into the heads.’
Fuel tank sender pumps are a common failure: either the pump itself, the relay or the earth.
JATCO advises owners not to carry out AUTOMATIC transmission fluid changes themselves because it’s difficult to ensure the correct amount is added (the gearbox needs to be run to a specific temperature – This requires diagnostic equipment) and probably they will use the wrong oil, e.g. Land Rover Discovery ATF is different from a Land Rover Freelander, and Jaguar X-Type (Jatco) uses different ATF to a Land Rover Freelander (Jatco).
A rumbling noise may be caused by the roof support from B pillar to B pillar becoming unbonded from the roof itself. Needs re-sticking with mastic. Obviously will not happen if the car has a factory fitted sunroof as that has a different structure. But does happen to the rib between the ‘C’ pillars of Tourers whether fitted with sunroofs or not.
HOW TO READ THE DIPSTICK OF A 2.0CDT OR 2.0CDTI:
1. A false LOW reading seems to be obtained whenever the dipstick is left in place after running the car and returning home. Even reading the dipstick the morning after with the engine now completely cold, the first time the stick is extracted will give a false LOW.
2. On wiping and re-inserting immediately afterwards , a correct FULL reading will be obtained.
3. Also, If the dipstick is taken out and left on top of the engine whilst in the garage, then on reinserting a correct FULL reading will be obtained. Similarly ANY reading taken after first removing the dipstick and re-wiping will be CORRECT.
If speedo fails and ABS and Traction Control lights come on it could be because one of the front wheel ABS cables has chafed through. Reconnecting and properly insulating the cable may get your speedo back and the ABS and T/C lights off. Of course, this may also be the reason for an MoT failing ABS light coming on.
20-4-2011: Bumpers for 2004/2005 facelift MGZTs were unavailable for a while, but a fresh batch was commissioned by XPart. The new bumper is hand-manufactured, with tolerances tightly controlled to ensure fast, simple fitment. The bumper can be ordered from any XPart wholesaler under part number DQC001031 from www.xpart.co.uk.
19-01-2012: On 2.0 litre diesels, damped ‘dual mass’ auxiliary belt crankshaft pulley can eventually fail.
01-9-2012: Airbag warning light problem common, but easily fixed. Caused by a loose connection underneath either the driver of passenger seat. With the engine switched off, pull apart the yellow connector blocks, clean with contact cleaner and re-connect. For a more permanent fix you can remove the terminal blocks and solder the wires together. An easy and inexpensive fix. It is important to wait 30 minutes after switching off to allow the residual energy in the air bags to dissipate before attempting this operation.
13/3/2000. 8550 cars VIN RJ 001242 to RJ 127623 built between Feb ’98 and Oct ’99 recalled to correct crankshaft position sender fault which could cause the engine to cut out, announced Radio 4 News 10/3/2000. Sensors to be replaced with modified units. 11-07-2002: 12,592 75s from VIN RJ001242 to RJ133299 recalled because “vehicles operating in high corrosion areas may experience fracture of the front suspension road springs” which may lead to puncturing of the inner wall of a front tyre. Front springs to be replaced.
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.
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