I’ve been enjoying life in the slow(er) lane behind the wheel of Rover’s 1990s flagship, the Sterling. It’s a breed of car I’ve endured a long love/hate relationship with – love, because that Honda V6 really is a nice piece of engineering to sit behind and that interior is warm and welcoming. Hate, because it doesn’t brake or steer as it should and I have this unending mistrust of the electrics…
My latest steed is a well cared-for example that’s been garaged all its life and, just like me, its previous owner felt it was too good to scrap (an oft-used cliche, but apt in this instance). It’s suffering from the odd bout of sulky electrics, but nothing a soldering iron and a steady hand won’t sort. That just begs the shrugged comment from me along the lines of, ‘they all do that, Sir…’
Once past that – and the fact that I’m in an 800 and therefore driving a car I promised myself I’d never own again on account of having owned so many – driving the thing has proved remarkably therapeutic. Even before I clamber in, I find myself admiring the styling (which works really well from some angles) and concluding that it really does look quite classy. But once in and on the move, the soft ride soothes, the smooth autobox slurs its changes and my early morning commute glides past in a completely stress-free way.
Yes, I know that dynamically, it’s a pig (soft suspension with limited travel and sub-standard damping aren’t a great combination) and its steering could be better (a lot better, in fact), but none of that matters once you’re in mental auto-pilot mode, gliding to your destination without a care in the world.
I did take it on a cross-country trip through Oxfordshire last week, though, and its sheer incompetence on anything that wasn’t motorway or main road reminded me of the love/hate thing. Love it for wafting, hate it for pressing on…
But, nevertheless, one can see what Rover was trying to achieve with the Sterling – it’s just that the Honda platform (and snarling V6) was not the perfect starting point. Still, they got it right with the 75.
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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