Essay : Why I (can’t) hate the… Rover 400 HH-R

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

Alarmingly, the Rover 400 HH-R has just celebrated its 20th birthday. Apart from making me feel surprisingly old, as history lessons go, the launch of the the car was one that came with many tough lessons for Rover Group, and is cited by many as the beginning of the end for Longbridge (though, in truth, that most probably began much, much sooner).

This was the editor's one-time family hack, bought for the princely sum of £195 in 2010. It was driven for 14 months and sold on for twice what it cost...
This was the Editor’s one-time family hack, bought for the princely sum of £195 in 2010. It was driven for 14 months and sold on for twice what it cost…

At the time of its introduction, in the spring of 1995, Rover was, in marketing terms at least, riding on the crest of a wave. The R8 had been a real education – a car that was properly built, properly developed, properly designed and properly marketed, and which, very quickly, lifted the public perception of Rover to new levels.

The struggles that the company had faced with its previous mid-size models, the Maestro and Montego, were offset by a nifty little package that was an unprecedented showroom success, and which had given Rover the confidence it needed to move the brand upmarket.

Rover's biggest problem was that HH-R replaced this - and the last of the line R8 hatch and saloons were not only great cars, but also rather posh...
Rover’s biggest problem was that HH-R replaced this – and the last of the line R8 hatch and saloons were not only great cars, but also rather posh…

Under the stewardship of BMW, Rover also had new leaders with a background in selling premium models, and it was this move upmarket that, ultimately, gave the HH-R a difficult birth. That, and a relationship with Honda which had already grown strained, but started to fall apart completely after the brand was sold to BMW. Honda, it’s rumoured, had been ready to buy Rover in its entirety when British Aerospace had put it up for sale, and had gone as far as completing the due diligence process. So when a decision was taken at the last minute to allow BMW to take over, it’s hardly surprising that Honda became less predisposed to helping out Rover Group.

As such, in many areas of the car’s development, Rover was forced to go it alone. The saloon was a Rover-only project that involved new bodywork tooling, while in turn Rover was not able to benefit from the estate version of the sister Honda Civic, which would have been a natural successor to the R8 400 Tourer (which, to satisfy fleet requirements, was kept alive until 1999, a whole four years after the ‘new’ 400’s launch). The HH-R also used Rover engines in all but the automatic models, where complete engine and transmission units had to be bought in from Honda at inflated expense. The saloon, meanwhile, was a Rover only project – from the rear screen backward, developed entirely by Longbridge’s engineers and never offered as a Honda.

If Rover had been allowed access to all of Honda's tooling, a replacement for the 400 Tourer would have been viable. This one is a converted Honda.
Had Rover been allowed access to all of Honda’s tooling, a replacement for the 400 Tourer would have been viable. This one is a converted Honda.

The car’s gestation, then, was a bit of a mess. But what about the execution? Well, in many senses, it wasn’t that bad. The styling was a little bland and certainly not as clean as the R8, which was less than six years old at the time and, in the eyes of many, barely ready to be replaced anyway. The interior, too, was a little less ‘Rover’, with more Honda switchgear, some rather bizarre electric window switch positioning (the driver’s side on the door, the passenger switch by the handbrake where it could be reached by both occupants to reduce cost) and some harsh-looking light grey or beige plastics, which could have looked far better if they’d just been a few shades darker.

Interior was somewhat insipid compared to plush R8s
Interior was somewhat insipid compared to plush R8s

Dynamically, though, the HH-R was pretty good – the ride quality was exemplary and the paint finish as smart and glossy as you’d have expected from a Rover. It wasn’t a bad car, just not a great one.

That led to two problems. First, its predecessor was recognised by many as a truly great car, which won many plaudits from the motoring press. Second, Rover had some grand ideas about what it was trying to be. In pricing terms, the HH-R was much closer to cars from the segment above, and it was no match for a Ford Mondeo or contemporary Peugeot 406 in terms of its handling, packaging or interior design. Yet in size terms, it was barely bigger than an Escort or an Astra, but markedly more expensive.

Sales were initially quite strong, but soon tailed off – numbers were bolstered by fleet deals and heavily-discounted transaction prices, but it never achieved the same reputation for solidity, durability or quality as its predecessor, a problem not helped by the head gasket problems that affected models with the enlarged versions of the K-Series engine.

A mild facelift in 1998 improved the looks significantly, with darker rear light lenses, improved interior fabrics and new wheel designs, whilst the launch of the Rover 45 18 months later gave it a further boost, with a 75-style front end treatment and much nicer, darker interior plastics and new dials. By 2000, though, the rivals had already caught up, and Rover’s pricing strategy was reviewed to the point that the HH-R was priced below smaller rivals rather than alongside bigger ones.

Facelift in late 1998 improved looks subtly, but smartly
Facelift in late 1998 improved looks subtly, but smartly

Ironically, the HH-R was still going strong in 2005 at the time of Rover’s demise – the Honda Civic on which it was based having already gone through two successive incarnations. It was woefully outdated despite a recent facelift, yet was given some semblance of desirability through the addition of sporty MG ZS variants.

It could never be considered one of Rover’s great success stories, but was the Rover 400/45/MG ZS really such a terrible car?

In a nutshell, no. Whilst the very earliest cars suffered from corrosion problems (and let’s not mention head gaskets, as the whole subject can get a little tiresome), HH-Rs built from 1997 onwards seem to be fairly durable, and (like many BL/Austin-Rover cars) appear to have survived in surprisingly good numbers compared to their contemporaries. Whether this is down to an older customer demographic or better inbuilt durability is up for discussion, but whatever the reason they seem to have survived better than most, including its sister car, the R3 200 (we’ll discuss that one here very soon…).

I can, therefore, only speak from personal experience. And my own HH-R experience was enough to completely convert my previously nonplussed opinion…

In 2005, I changed jobs and had to hand back a company car, but for the first six months of working for my new employer I wasn’t eligible for their car scheme. In that period, I knew I would cover about 35,000 miles, but I had no intention of spending ‘proper’ money on a set of wheels, as I knew that, by the winter, I’d have a brand new lease car as part of my employment contract.

The answer came in the form of a 1997 Rover 414i, purchased under pressure as I had seven days in which to source affordable, reliable transport. This was just six weeks after the MG Rover collapse, and residual values had fallen through the floor. As such, I was able to buy an extremely presentable eight-year old car for just £625, albeit with a relatively high 125,000 miles on the clock from its one company owner.

That Nightfire Red base model (albeit with optional air con AND sunroof) did me proud. I changed the oil twice and, in just under six months ran it up to 153k (the rest of my mileage was in my ‘once-a-week’ 825 Coupe). Not once did it ever fail or let me down. I looked after it, and it looked after me. I sold it in early 2006 to a young couple in London who were friends of a friend, and they kept it until 2012 when it finally expired at 196,000, without having ever been serviced during their ownership. P427 BDG, RIP.

Another of Craig's old hacks - 45 Connoisseur was really quite posh, and only cost £500 in 2011
Another of Craig’s old hacks – 45 Connoisseur was really quite posh, and only cost £500 in 2011

Since then, I’ve owned three other HH-Rs, two as cheap family hacks (an R-plate 416i saloon and an X-plate 45 Connoisseur), and one as a toy (an MG ZS 180). And you know what? Clockwork service from each and every one. For a car that the uneducated will tell you is rubbish and unreliable, well, that was never my experience…

The HH-R will never be remembered as a true great. But as a second-hand workhorse, it had many redeeming features.

Happy 20th birthday old bus – you weren’t loved by everyone, but you certainly weren’t as bad as many people made out…

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

46 Comments

  1. I always liked the 45 update, which made the car look more Roverish, as the second generation 400 was a bit bland and overpriced for what it was. My sister had a 52 plate 45 diesel for two years and it never let her down once, until it was wrecked in a crash( luckily the strength of the body meant she was unhurt),and the economy, quality of the interior and low price after Rover collapsed won her over against far more bland offerings from Vauxhall and Ford. I’d suggest anyone who wants a Rover 400/45 to go for the diesel 45 as it doesn’t suffer from the dreaded HGF and can return 50-55 mpg with ease.

  2. To put it bluntly it was the car that killed Rover. This sort of car is the mainstay of any volume manufacturer. Get this wrong and a company is in deep trouble and Rover got it very wrong – as did BMW for not realising Rover was sleep walking to disaster. It replaced the R8, probably the best car to ever leave Longbridge. Smart, well made and aspirational and killed by this monstrosity when it was only 5 years old. The HHR was the antithesis of the R8. Stodgy and old from the day it was launched with the most ludicrous pricing. Did Rover honestly believe this tarted up Civic could sell for more than the new, much larger and highly regarded Ford Mondeo? Sales collapsed, user choosers where replaced by pensioners and the downward spiral began. If only Rover had told Honda where to stick the HHR and re-bodied the R8. Not with the shrunken R3 body, but with something with the R3s style but sized as the R8.

    • This 1000 times over. To my mind the R8 still looks good and surprisingly modern, especially next to other cars of a similar age. Must say I prefer the original front end. HH-R just looks old and stodgy unlike R3 and 75 which have aged pretty well.

    • Reading your comment, I thought that they could had rebodied their own R8 varients such as Coupe, Tourer and cabriolet, whatever they choose HHR or R3-based style(Of course, R3s style was quite better than this in my sight).

    • Also agree with this post. The pricing in particular was ludicrous. Destroyed all of the goodwill built up by the R8 in a single stroke.

  3. To my mind, it was ADO16/ Allegro over again. Replace a hugely popular best seller with an unloved and less successful replacement.

    I had an R8 for 7 years until I bought my Rover 75 and loved it. It was well built, comfortable and reliable. Sadly for me, the HH-R never excited and looked a bit dull, although I admit the MGZS was a bit mean!

    I can imagine the Buckets in “Keeping Up Appearances” replacing their Rover 213 with an HH-R, probably in beige! As you have alluded, competent but never great and certainly less loved than its predecessor. A bit of a motoring footnote to be honest.

    This was the sector of car that had to earn MG Rover the profits to be able to develop. As history shows, it finished its days as MGRs greatest problem, it’s poorest seller and the most antiquated in the range.

  4. I had a T Series engined 420i four door and ran it for five years, far longer than I normally keep a car for, just because it was so good. When I sold it there wasn’t a mark on it

  5. What an interesting article – thanks!

    I really liked the shape of the car, especially the 45, but that final face lift was a complete and utter disaster, especially the boot lid, with the number plate mounting removed and a huge area of curved metal with R O. V. E. R stuck across it’s back side. Quite staggeringly nasty!

    I wish I could have the good sense to run a car for work on such a tight budget – respect is definitely due there.

  6. It was for Rover a downward move after the R8. However, I don’t think it was really so bad. With other variants, as per R8, things could have been much better. Coupes, Tourers, Convertible, 3 doors would have brought their own extra sales but also had a halo effect and boosted sales of the cooking 5 door. As it was, the 4 door alone added quite a bit of class.

    For a very brief time, the original HH-R 400 was not such a bad replacement for the R8. It fitted well as a smaller 600. Its appeal could have been kept going for longer with the extra model variants described above.

    The 45 boosted the appeal but this faded drastically as the Focus style took over.

    I still think a high spec 45 4 door can have appeal even today. The Peter Stevens facelift helped the car’s appeal hugely I think, at the time. Project drive may have been strongly in place but it looked more modern, youthful.

    As you say Craig, it wasn’t so bad as many made out.

  7. Remember the launch well, a few days later there was a small motor show at Bedford. This was to be my first acquaintance with the HHR, it left me underwhelmed.
    Judged on its own the HHR isn’t a bad car, but was a miserable replacement for the brilliant R8.

  8. I would like an opportunity to dislike this car, but actually can’t because it does have some endearing qualities. Despite its bland interior and exterior styling, the HHR 400 Series was actually quite a strong car in terms of body strength (as someone else as testified) which means it was able to handle engine sizes from 1.4-litres to V6 2.5-litres without the need for structural changes to improve body torsional rigidity. The car also felt reassuring solid, with the doors making a nice thunk when closed, while the chassis and suspension really came into their own with the unveiling of the MG ZS 180 from 2001, showing how competent the model could be as a driver’s car.

    Corrosion protection was also better than for the R8 and later R3 generation 200 Series. The high spec models such as the end-of-line iL and Executive with their Lightstone colourway and contrasting Classic Green or blue leather seat facings looked quite luxurious and classy. Even better when specified with the 136Ps 2-litre T Series engine!

    But, the 400 Series was always playing catch-up in the design stakes. In many ways the facelift that saw the 400 Series transcend into the 45 in late 1999 should have been realised in 1995 at launch (although the restrictions of the licensing agreement with Honda would have likely prevented this). Meanwhile, the 2004 facelift (with the exception of the horrible Kia Shuma-style rear end) should have arrived in late 1999/2000. A shame the 400 Series and later 45 in 5-door form needed the optional rear aerofoil in order to look more dynamic and visually better balanced.

    A great shame the 400 Series does not have many fans. Even at Pride of Longbridge last month there were very few examples on show, with those that did attend looking very presentable.

    • I always thought the rear spoiler did the 5dr no favours. To me it looked more ‘Rover’ without it.

  9. Not sure about them having survived better. Certainly near me they’re quite a rare site with far more R3 and 75 variants on the road.

  10. I had 4 of them two on the acop scheme great continental cruiser went to vendee at 90mph(416i) no problem the only thing that came past were bikes and the handling for such a softly spung car was fantastic the latest was an MG ZS. Loved that car has a L series diesel zs+ owned for 7 years the only thing that went wrong twice was the german fuel pump which finaly killed it at 180k the looks were a bit out of date by the end but my new 2015 focus zetec S is still not a match in the handling stakes oh and i have had 6 k series and only 1 head gasket fail and that was a oil in the coolant not a big blow up

  11. I had a 420 GSi as a new company car. I liked it a lot at the time. They do look quite old fashioned now.

  12. This was a let-down and lost my loyalty after a succession of BL/Rover company cars (C-plate 216S / E-216SE / G-214SLi/ H-216GSi), I was offered a choice of replacement. 420GSi diesel saloon or Cavalier SRi…

  13. The suspension was too soft and this might have made the ride ok but if you drive one of these thing fast they are frightining and will just understeer of the road,VW did the same mistake with the Mark Four.

    The 45 was on a different planet and had fantastic handling.

    There was nothing wrong with the interior which used high quality materials,the boot is enormous and will carry a washing machine with ease.

  14. The updated 200 and 400 that were launched in 1995 were bland, the styling looked dumpy and the premium pricing of cars that were aimed at the mass market was a big mistake. Certainly the 200 didn’t seem to fit in, it was too big and pricey to take on the Fiesta and too small to take on the Escort, while Rover wanted Mondeo money for the Escort rival 400. While the drive was good and the interiors looked nice, the pricing policy was a mistake and hence market share started to fall away, leading to BMW upping sticks in 2000.

    • Oddly ironic nowadays that people will pay silly money for a Polo in an Austin Allegro fancy dress outfit just because of the name. Shame they weren’t that way inclined back in the mid 90’s when Rover were pitching this type of car.

      • Kev – was thinking this. BMW, Merc and Audi can charge silly money for their 1 series / A class / A1-A3 and people will still buy them for the “premium” badge..

        Rover were trying this trick in the 90s, having built up a good reputation, of pushing for premium. Even Hyundai tries it and gets lauded for moving upmarket. Rover tried it and we’re told it was a marketing failure.

  15. All my MGRover cars have been HHR designs. (a 1997 414Si, 2000 R45 and a 2003 ZS). I paid around £5500 for all of them and never had any major problems.

    Although initially the HHR didn’t live up to the image of the R8 I still think it had an upmarket appeal (thanks to the chrome grille, rear reg plate trim and wood effect dash & door cappings). I know many readers won’t agree but I’m just speaking from my ownership experience.

    Although it wasn’t a silk purse from a sows ear, MG Rover did well to create a car as good as the ZS from this model. Finally, that 45 Tourer version pic of the Civic Aerodeck looks really neat – what might have been?

  16. The 25 and 45 improved the looks markedly by making the front end like a Rover 75. Also the MG variants helped keep the company alive a bit longer as they developed a youthful following and were good to drive. However, by about 2004 these were dated cars, Project Drive cheapened them considerably and the K series engine had developed a reputation for head gasket failure. Yet a pre Project Drive 45 always looks nicer than a first generation Focus and the interior is a far pleasanter place to be.

      • To me the outline of a Focus looks like a turtle.

        The HH-R 5 door was one the last of what is now a rare breed – a fastback mid-sized hatchback. The only examples I can think of now are the slow selling Skoda Rapid and Seat Toledo twins.

        The saloon was another rare thing, a successful hatch to saloon conversion. True, the mk1-2 Focus was available in the UK in saloon form (and actually looked quite good to be fair) however UK buyers shunned them.

        Yes, the “new edge” design of the Focus moved things forward in car design towards the millenium, however we shouldn’t forget that this was Ford trying their hardest after the woeful mk5 Escort (a model that was outshone by the R8). They even kept the Escort in production for a while, in case of a Sierra-style backlash. Pointy lights aren’t to everyone’s tastes though, the twin lights of the 45 looked classy.

  17. The car really lacked charisma, not helped by the launch ad which used an obscure statistic from NASA to promote a smooth ride. It did gain more personality with the first two facelifts, and I would really like to try the 2.0 V6 version.

    • Indeed. I remember when comparing the HHR to its rivals the NASA ride quality assessment came to the bizarre conclusion that the by then ancient and unsophisticated Vauxhall Cavalier had a better ride than the then new and hydro-pneumatically suspended Citroen Xantia. With Rovers chintzed up Civic being of course better than all of them. Equally bizarre was the notion that this Astra/Escort sized car was a competitor of the Cavalier or Xantia at all!

      • While Rover are renowned for comfort, I don’t think they can compare to a hydropneumatic Xantia (with maintained spheres).

        Though Rover probably wouldn’t have wanted to touch such a system, after getting their fingers burnt with Hydrogas in the 70s (of which the 100 was the last).

        A shame that Citroen have dumped the system in all but top spec C5s as an option, C6 axed and the DS5 slammed in reviews for uncomfortable suspension!

  18. Was gutted when Rover launched this car..nit reminded me of the similar sized Volvo’s, fuddy duddy, boring and dull with added Paisley interior and cheap halfords wheel trims.. A massive step back from the R8 it succeeded.

    • Though if they were chasing ex-340/440 owners it wouldn’t be a bad thing, especially as the replacement S40 was initially saloon only to attempt a slice of the 3 series market.

      Worked alright for Skoda too, the late 90s models with the chrome grille were compared to Volvos.

  19. @ Peter, it just looked like every other family car on the road. Yet the 45 really made the HHR look plush and upmarket again.

  20. Paisley patterned seats at launch in 1995? I had a paisley tie in 1972 and I’ve never been on the cutting edge of fashion.

  21. My father had three,all diesel (the last cars he ever owned): a 420SDi, a 45 Advantage S (silver like all the rest) and 45 Club SE, which he bought after the collapse when i was trying to get him to buy a Honda Jazz.

    to be honest, I didn’t like them, the R8 was much better. However, apart from a duff battery on the last one they were all very reliable and he liked them a lot. Economy was strong and the Club SE had the uprated 113PS engine which made quite a bit of difference. I know the latter cars are derided in these parts for the cheapening and parts removal, but I liked the look of them the most.

    Had my father been younger and been allowed to carry on driving I have no idea what he’d have done with no Rovers to go and buy.

  22. A friend had the use of two 400 saloons that were on his company’s fleet; a 2.0T series & also an L series. The T spent more time in the garage than out & never ran proprly at the best of times but the L was superb.

    I have a 45 2.0D Club SE albeit in 101PS tune. It pulls well although couldn’t be described as rapid. Fuel consumption is 50-60mpg & the car feels all together more substantial than our earlier 25s.

    As for Project Drive, if you look at the documents on here, which granted only go upto 2003, most of the savings were made by common sense moves, standardising components with the 25. The only deletions appear to be items which didn’t need to be on the car in the first place. I understand that many resultant quality losses were reversed with the facelift model which I had.

    Speaking of the facelift, the 45 would have had more of an impact if the more modern dash had been implemented at launch & the same goes for the 25.

  23. I always though the HH-R was Rover punishing itself for having such a resounding success with the R8.

    Right at the launch they were embarrassed about the pricing and kept telling us to “wait for the 4 door and it will all make sense” – it never did though…

  24. I did a few miles in a 1991 214GSI R8, company car, to 1994. Fantastic car, loved borrowing it. The alternative was an similar age XR3i and I took the Rover every time I had the choice

    Come 1997, I was on the company car scheme, with a very limited budget. In price terms, for an escort size car, I could take a Mitsubishi Carisma, and low spec 400 or a base Megane. I took a Carisma to Taunton from Sussex. It lurched even on simple lane changes which my 9 year old cheapie Montego didn’t, so that was out. Test drove the Rover, and it was ok, but my thought,aged 32 was “am I old enough for this car?” so I bought the Renault. It is only now that I realise I wouldn’t have thought that with the R8…..

  25. Isn’t the basic problem one of perception of the HH-R in comparison with its American owned opposition?
    The R8 was a resounding success because it exposed the contemporary Ford’s and Vauxhall’s as crude, basic, tin cans built to a price for the unsophisticated fleet market. Ford in particular responded by upping their game with the Mondeo and Focus, and in comparison the HH-R was inferior, and this was componded by also being overpriced. And with HGF it was less reliable……

  26. I had the same feeling when I saw the new 400 in Car magazine (it was a red car I recall) that I had when I heard that Ed Milliband had been elected leader of the Labour Party…

    “Honda, it’s rumoured, had been ready to buy Rover in its entirety when British Aerospace had put it up for sale, and had gone as far as completing the due diligence process. So when a decision was taken at the last minute to allow BMW to take over, it’s hardly surprising that Honda became less predisposed to helping out Rover Group”.

    I’m not sure if this is correct? I kept a very close eye on the motoring press in the early 1990s. Honda upped their stake in Rover Group to about 40% and Rover got an increased stake in Honda UK. The story in the motoring press at the time was that BAe did offer Honda first dibs on Rover Group but Honda made clear it did not want to buy the company outright. Japanese car manufacturers did not at the time buy foreign car manufacturers. So the company was sold to BMW. There was NEVER any mention anywhere in 1993/4 that Honda had wanted to buy the company outright.

    The sale to BMW however was a big surprise, and it’s not surprising that Honda felt very uncomfortable on many levels that Rover had been bought by an arch rival in BMW, and so became more protective of their IP. Prior to 1994, I don’t recall reading about any tensions with Honda. And the price of Honda engines and transmissions had always been an issue, right from the launch of the 825, so this wasn’t anything new with HHR.

    Let’s not try to re-write history!

  27. I’ve had my grey Rover 420 GSI hatch from new in December 1998. It’s got nearly 121,000 miles on the clock. Round town fuel consumption is abysmal, but on the open road I’ve had nigh on 40mpg. Performance even by modern standards is good. Dribbles oil like many T series.
    As a high end spec model, the majority of the dashboard switch locations are occupied, and on mine most of the kit – even the cruise control, very useful on average speed stretches of roadworks – still works.
    4 or 5 years ago, I approached we-buy-any-car, and they offered me £70, less their admin fee which I think may have been £30, or £40…
    So it’s still part of the family.

    • It’s nice you kept it, even though scrap cars were worth at least £100 weighed in a few years back.

  28. I know a lot of Rover people ended up at Bentley (I might have been one of them but I got fed up waiting after the fourth interview…) although I guess its styling was done in Germany but doesn’t the number plate surround/tailgate of the new Bentagaya at least echo an HHR?

  29. @ Terry Hill, the Mitsubishi Carisma had one very unpleasant flaw, the engine coked up at 30,000 miles and there were cases of GDI engines failing because of this( even worse than HGF). This really was one dull car and prompted Mitsubishi to withdraw from the family car market to concentrate on what it did best, unbreakable pick up trucks, Evos and SUVs.

  30. The Rover 45 2.0 KV6 has to be the most unique HHR when you consider it’s origins & constrains.
    Under licensing agreement with Honda, Rover transformed the rather ugly Honda Domani into a stylish 400 saloon. Then, under BMW, facelifted the 400 to the 45 & plonked in a state of the art 2.0 L V6 engine. The 45 KV6 was the bases for the MG ZS 180.
    I can’t imagine the original designers, both at Honda and Rover, could’ve predicted such a transformation.

    My first Rover was a 416. A brilliant car. I saw the marriage between the Japanese and British tech as a good thing. Technically, the car was quite interesting with double wishbone suspension all around. Most modern day small cars don’t have full independent suspension all around.

    I’d be tempted to buy a good conditions MG ZS 180… or a Rover 45 KV6 manual (which, sadly, don’t exist).

  31. I used to own BRG Rover 420GSi , on R plate, my friend now owns it, done over 130000 miles , and its a nippy t series engine, nice inside, only was missing a sunroof, its was an optiom at the time, which was a shame as Rover 800 SLi, Vitesse and Sterling had it as standard, also far better built than my 54 plate MGZS 180. Thks

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