Our Cars : Rover 600 one month on…

Keith Adams

Does the Rover 600 still stack up?
Does the Rover 600 still stack up?

It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Rover 600 which I’ve had the good fortune to be smoking around in. Purchased for the price of a nice weekend away in Scarborough, the commodious saloon has done everything that’s been asked of it and quite a lot more besides. It’s whisked me around the home counties on various jobs without a bother, backing up my recently-formed opinion that this is the best used Rover money can buy in the real world.

Not because it’s exciting or interesting – because clearly it isn’t – but because it’s so damned dependable. I get in, check the mirrors, turn the key and away it goes. Trust me, after some of the cars I’ve owned, this is a very big deal indeed. It’s not perfect, of course: the seats lack support and the performance is acceptable for a two-litre saloon – but only if you’re prepared to wring its neck and it hardly sounds pleasant when you do that. A T16 motor would do the job so much better, although it’s rather heavier, and would make it understeer even more.

In terms of dynamics, I’m not entirely convinced about the 1-2-1 damping. It’s soft and comfortable on less challenging roads, but does seem to fall apart when things get rough. As for the steering – feel, what feel? Fuel consumption’s okay, but hardly brilliant – on longer runs, it’s been doing 32mpg but, on commuting days, that plummets to 26mpg. However, as I’d bought this as a care-free no-brainer saloon to jump into, I’m not complaining too much really – at least everything works, which is magical on a car of this age!

There’s one huge downside, though – and that’s the way other people treat you on the road. Okay, I live in the chav-central part of the East Midlands, but I’ve been tailgated, cut-up and raced from the lights far too much. Given that I bought this as a car to drive while my brain’s in neutral, that’s a big downside.

Interestingly, I’ve recently bought a Volkswagen Golf TDI Mk4 for similar money – which is a fair bit tattier – and am not subjected to the same daily tortures. It’s enlightening, for sure – and slightly depressing. After all, if you own a Rover 600 in France or Italy, you’re seen as someone with a refined taste for understated elegance. In the UK, you’re seen as a loser. It’s certainly taken the sheen off owning this great, rational, bargain saloon…

Keith Adams


  1. Good to know the 600 is serving you well – it’s the only Rover from that era I haven’t owned, although I wanted one. Just never seemed to get round to it; and then 75s became affordable.

    Interesting about the tailgating/carving up problems Keith – I used to be subjected to that behaviour a lot when I drove my Accord Coupe which had essentially the same underpinnings. I also got problems when driving my Eunos Cosmo and latterly when driving may daily hack Proton Gen-2. With the possible exception of the Gen-2, I don’t think these cars were perceived as “losermobiles”. With the Cosmo, I think a lot of it was curiosity.

    Parodoxically, when I drive my Rover 75, I seem to get very few problems at all -except from BMW drivers but, as they tailgate everyone, they don’t count.

  2. Is it the car or your driving? Too many drivers crawl along at soporifically low speeds and they do tend to be Rover or Korean car drivers. I had a 620SLi (‘R’ reg) years ago and never had experiences like yours. Having said that, I drive quickly as should all drivers.

  3. Andrew Evans :Is it the car or your driving? Too many drivers crawl along at soporifically low speeds and they do tend to be Rover or Korean car drivers. I had a 620SLi (‘R’ reg) years ago and never had experiences like yours. Having said that, I drive quickly as should all drivers.

    Round here it’s Citroen Picassos and Nissan Micras that are causing the hold-ups – by that I mean driving at 20 in a 30 zone and 29 in a 40 zone.

    I keep to the limit and still seem to get tailgated by impatient drivers. It’s suprising how many can’t keep up when the road is de-restricted only to tailgate again through the built-up bits. To me that’s just sheer muppetry.

  4. People are sheep and brainwashed by the media into thinking GERMAN = BEST, BUY GERMAN!!!

    That’s why Rover has a bad name, but German cars are revered. The Golf Mk3, for example, has not lasted the test of time at all but still gets more respect than a similarly aged Rover or big French car.

  5. I never had any tailgating when I owned this 600. However, when I’m out in our Nissan Micra and driving just as quickly (usually slightly over the limit when no camera vans around!), I’ve had other drivers tailgating, overtaking and then slowing me down! No problems at all driving the Focus!

  6. I’ve owned two of these 600s, a 620Si and a 623GSi. I was never badly treated on the road in either car.

    I understand the vagueness of the 620 setup as it wasn’t great in corners but I always treated it as a motorway cruiser as the boot is simply enormous. In a straight line, the ride was excellent.

    The 623 was very different, still a great cruiser but the ride was less damped – it felt more front heavy but the steering feel was far weightier. It was still rubbish in corners but you could feel how much traction you had.

    In terms of mpg, the engines always preferred life in top in moving traffic, otherwise you would pay at the pump. Both of my 600s were autos and the 623 had a sports auto which delayed kickdown at the press of a button.

    The engine was a gem but the slushbox wasn’t a patch on the 620 and the delayed changes spoilt it a little.

    One endearing memory was they were typical Honda engines: they loved revs, had a great note approaching 6,000rpm and were definitely more torquey at higher revs.

    As for economy 32mpg is about right, the 623 was less forgiving at 26mpg with a heavy foot.

    Anyway, if you can bag a 600 at sub-100k miles with plenty of stamps in the book, they are still a fantastic car to use for commuting.

    Some tips: source some plastic headlamp protectors, fit a good quality electric aerial, some nice 5” fronts and 6x9s in the rear with a nice head unit 🙂

  7. I don’t think its the car Keith. I do 30 in 30mph zones in a current shape Focus in photocopier grey (surely as “Mr Average” as it gets?) and still get tailgated whenever I venture into areas inside the circumference of the M25.

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