Fancy a K-Series Rover Metro or 100? Here’s what to look out for…
|Three-door, five-door hatchback
|1120cc K-Series inline-four
1396cc K-Series inline-four 8V (76bhp) and 16v (95, 103bhp)
1360cc Peugeot TU diesel inline-four
1527cc Peugeot TU diesel in-line four
|Four-speed manual, five-speed manual, CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
1990 saw the introduction of the Rover Metro and, at a shot, it transformed Rover’s baby from class loser to class leader. The suspension revisions, and the award winning K-Series engine ensured that the Rover got rave reviews from the motoring press.
Initially available in 1.1 and 1.4 8v carburettor and 1.4 16v SPi versions, the range was expanded in 1992 to include a 1.4 diesel. At the same time the 1.1 and 1.4 8v models gained single-point injection and the 16v multi-point injection.
By 1995, the Metro was beginning to get outclassed. Rover had planned the R3 (which became the 200/25), but this model was moved up-market to the small family hatchback sector. So to keep a presence in the supermini sector, a re-skin was done on the Metro. Relaunched as the 100, the car had a re-skinned front end, but it was obvious to everyone it was the same old Metro. Nevertheless, it still sold reasonably well and a new 1.5-litre diesel engine from the Peugeot 106 replaced the 1.4-litre diesel. However, following the publication of the Euro-NCAP test results in 1996, sales plummeted and the death knell sounded two years later.
What to look for
Engine & transmission:
The K-Series engine is generally reliable, but does have a tendency to leak oil. Head gaskets are known to be weak, and will eventually go even on a well-maintained car. If this is not rectified immediately many cars will just go on, but many will need a new head later. It is in any case expensive not to repair this immediately, as the coolant hoses will need replacement when in contact with oil for too long. However, if the car has been treated properly (regular servicing, correct coolant strength, allowing engine to warm up before hard revving,) they should be okay. (Check for oil in coolant and water in oil). GTa and GTi models are very likely to have been through a hard life, so a service history is essential on these models. Make sure the cambelt has been changed at 60,000 miles.
There are no major issues with the Peugeot-sourced TU diesel engine.
The R84/R85 manual boxes are generally fine in the Metro application, but they can make some noise from the input shaft bearing and can crunch into reverse. This is nominal, and shouldn’t give cause for concern. It is also worth noting that it can cause problems on the higher-powered cars; there have been cases of broken gears. Early gearboxes can leak oil through the breather (which could be replaced with the later breather).
Suspension, steering & brakes:
The Moulton Hydragas setup on the R6 is a joy, and really does give a big-car feel to a small car. However, watch for the car being down on one side (particularly at the front) as this could indicate a worn hydragas displacer – that said, it could just need a pump-up.
Check the rear radius arms for play (an MoT failure) – if these have not been properly maintained, you will easily be able to spot an offending car by its negative camber angle on the rear wheels. In many cases then the rear arms are not savable by this time and will need expensive replacement.
This is also the same for the front top arm: these have grease nipples and are frequently forgotten.
The steering is generally very direct, with no power assistance. Main things to check for are worn gaiters.
Brakes are generally okay, but the handbrake is manually adjusted and the adjusters have a tendency to stick. Some WD-40 and a quality brake adjusting spanner should free this off.
Body & chassis:
The main enemy of any Metro/100 is rust. Rear wheel arches, floorpans and outer sills are known to be weak spots. Get the car on ramps and check the floor/sills for bodged repairs. Rear repair panels are commonly available (and cheap), so there is NO excuse for bodging here.
Generally very hard-wearing, but more visible on lighter-coloured interiors.
Generally reliable. A nice simple system produces few problems. However, on later Metros (1993-95), ensure that, if there is no remote keyfob, the alarm/immobiliser has been disabled, as the immobiliser ECU is under the fascia and the fascia will require removal to access this.
On Rover 100s ensure the four-digit immobiliser code is supplied (about £10 from a dealer) to allow the alarm to be deactivated should the remote keyfob fail.
On the 16v versions the alternator suffers the heat build-up from the exhaust manifolds and will eventually pack up – look out for the heat shield of the alternator. Engine ECUs are known to stop working at about 10 years. Central locking and electric windows can give additional trouble.
A cheap first car that is tremendous fun. Generally easy to work on for a DIYer and the GTi is reasonably quick. The diesels offer good economy and the 1.1-litre is surprisingly nippy. The choice model is the 1.4 GS/GSi, which is again moderately quick, but has the best trim.
With thanks to Chris Mills and Alexander Boucke for compiling this article.