Rover 600 : Replaced by this?

Keith Adams

Audi 80TDI
Audi 80TDI

Well, it’s come to this. My Rover 620 – a car that failed to put a single foot wrong – has left the fold to be replaced by this awfully vulgar German car. What’s gone wrong? Why an Audi of all things? Well… like everything in my life, it’s not as simple as all that. A family member decided that his recently purchased Audi 80TDI simply wasn’t interesting enough to contemplate running on a daily basis and decided to purchase a Citroen BX 16 Valve in its place. 

He had seen me sell the Rover 620 on to a fellow enthusiast and so, instead of selling the Audi on eBay and possibly getting about £63 for it, he decided to pass it on to me – as I’ve said before the Rover 600 was a victim of its own competence, as it started, ran and drove perfectly and looked as if it would go on doing so for another 100,000 miles. At least… For someone like me, who needs drama, that really won’t do. 

Okay, so the Audi is even more boring and, from an enthusiast’s stand point, it’s in the same boat as the 620. The 80’s much more clinical to sit in but it does have one redeeming feature – its fuel consumption. Whereas the Rover struggled to better 25mpg on my mixed commute, the Audi returns well over 45mpg. That really does make living with its agricultural VAG TDI just about bearable. 

It has to be said that, in terms of solidity and quality, the ageing Audi leaves the Rover for dead, too. Although the 600 was rattle-free and handled sleeping policemen with aplomb (soft suspension helped a great deal), it somehow felt cheap inside, despite a friendly and inviting looking cabin. The Rover’s doors shut with a nice cushioned sound, but the Audi’s feel more like a bank vault’s. I think that’s the difference – the Rover’s quality feels added on, whereas the Audi’s is fundamental and built-in from the wheels up. 

Surprisingly, the SE model on sports suspension settings, outhandles the Rover significantly. It’s more assuredly damped and tied-down at speed. Since when did a 1990s Audi outhandle a 1990s Rover? 

Overall, though, the plain Jane Audi with its basic cloth interior and dowdy styling, just feels better to sit in, and more special behind the wheel. Thankfully, it’s boring, very boring. Otherwise, I’d be sounding almost enthusiastic. It would be interesting to compare a Rover 620SDi alongside this car – would the British car be viewed more favourably with Audi’s excellent fuel consumption equalised? 

It would be interesting to find out.

Keith Adams
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  1. There must have been at least one test in a German mag where the 620 Diesel beat the Audi. The importer was all too happy to report on this…

    I can’t speak for this generation of the Audi 80, but replacing the old 1.6TD with the TDI engine was surely a giant step forward. The older generation with the short boot was very uninspiring to drive and, in 1.8S form, felt strangely underdamped. It was, in fact, quite an awful car to drive, but the way it was put together was most impressive.

  2. I have to agree wholeheartly about your recent purchase. A family member ran an 80 TDi Estate which racked up a ludicrous 200 odd thousand miles before its gearbox ate itself and the car was scrapped.

    Your remark about added-on quality is also very true. As you know, I ran an 06 plate A4 140 TDi S-Line as a works smoker. I took the car on when it was just over a year old and had a staggering 86,000 miles on the clock. With the exception of a slight clutch judder (so common on dual-mass flywheel VAG cars), it was still fresh out of the box!

    I’m sure you’re going to love this car to bits – even if it is German!

  3. You ask: “Since when did a 1990s Audi out-handle a 1990s Rover?” Well, I’d say since the 1990s, a 1990s Audi out-handled a 1990s Rover! Every time in my experience. Chris.

  4. I often thought it was a shame that MG Rover Group couldn’t find a potential collaborative partner from within the Volkswagen Group.

    I am not thinking in terms of sharing complete bodyshells, body pressings and interior trim (because Seats and Skodas don’t hide their parts-bin dependence that well), but platforms and, potentially, engines such as ‘halo’ diesels.

    The Volkswagen Group would have attracted another source of revenue by selling components to a medium-sized player and also enjoyed further economies of scale. Meanwhile, MG Rover Group would have had relatively new technology to use and the potential prestige from being associated with a quality manufacturer again.

    Then again, would the price have been right for MG Rover Group given their precarious finances and would Volkswagen Group have wanted to been seen as aiding the cast-off “English Patient” which had been so publicly savaged by BMW’s Board and the media?

    Mind you, it’s still an interesting thought…

  5. It’s not my cuppa but if it works for you, granted them mpg figures are nice but it lacks that cheaky look that makes me wish I could take my 620 to bed *blush*. That said you can give me any British car and ill be happy, Audi always strike me as the maker boring cars, even my father TT bores the pants of me, they are not quirky friendly or sexy, same goes for other euro cars. I just had the displeasure of living with one, I was thankful to get back home, behind my 620 wheel.

  6. A couple of things that you may not think of that can noticeably improve a VAG 1990’s 1.9 diesel is to change the gearbox oil and replace it with the absolutely correct specification, then while at it, replace the thermostat. Can add 3-5 mpg and save the gearbox from getting rough or worse. Their thermostats get soft with age and a fresh ‘stat keeps the engine temperature about 5 deg C higher. Its worth doing.

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