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Archive 14

The wonderfully civilised 75 is Rover's first all-British designed model for years and marks the dawn of a
new era for the company. Sweeping away decades of underachievement, does the new car deliver all it
promises and restore the firms reputation to that enjoyed
in the days of its classic namesake of the '40s and '50s?
We check it out.

This car is a real stunner, but that is just part of the story. Not only does this Rover cut a dash, it marks a re-discovered sense of pride and direction for the BMW-owned manufacturer, for this model with its blend of 'Britishness' and subtle retro styling is being relied upon to rebuild brand awareness and ensure the marque rises again to relive past glories.
   Sweeping away years of under achievement, not to mention a somewhat tarnished image as a luxury car producer over recent decades, the new 75 is proof that Rover's bosses are no longer prepared to play second fiddle, their aim now being to restore the reputation of solidity, grace and comfort enjoyed in earlier times when the P4 namesake was affectionately known as 'Aunty' or 'the poor mans Rolls Royce'.
   Its heritage is apparent straightaway. The familiar shaped grille with the Viking emblem to the extensive use of chrome and, of course, the bulging waistline with the discreet badges and the distinctive strips below the doors reminiscent of the old P4 series and is an immediate give-away. But it doesn't end there, the rear end is richly infused with styling cues from its illustrious forebear and narrows gradually like the original 75; unashamedly retro, yes, but at the same time managing to look modern and distinctive to give the car a strong road presence.

   Bigger than a BMW 3-Series, yet smaller than the 5 range, the new model is the first Rover to be designed completely in-house for generations, although the German masters had an input. It will replace the ageing 600 and 800 ranges at a stroke.
   The cabin is enormous for its class and easily accommodates four adults in luxury with copious head and leg room in the front, although not quite so generous in the rear where the comfort of a third occupant may be marred slightly by the presence of the armrest and central hump, but that is a minor observation.    Attractive retro black on white instrumentation, veneered wood trim, two tone leather and plush carpeting, rear window blind, etc., lend an air of opulence to the interior; all traditional hallmarks of this classy British name. Add up-to-the-minute audio, satellite navigation and an efficient ventilation system, and you are in no doubt this is a car designed very much for the 21st century.

   On the road the front-wheel-drive layout gives precise and refined handling, helped by a structure that is some 21/2 times stiffer than the models it replaces. Always feeling composed, the car rides bumps and tackles undulating surfaces with an assured grace to give an extremely comfortable and smooth ride.
   Four engine options are available and each can be specified with either a five-speed automatic transmission or manual gearbox. At the lower end is a modified version of Rover's well-proven four cylinder 1.8-litre K-Series petrol engine, followed by a heavily reworked 2.0-litre clone of the superb KV6 power plant. The latter is retained in substantially re-engineered form as the 'full-size' 2.5-litre top-of-the-range petrol variant.
   For devotees of oil burners, the fourth engine in the line up is a 2.0-litre 16v version of BMW's new four cylinder turbo diesel. Equipped with common rail direct injection technology for maximum refinement and economy; this unit is a derivative of the motor used in the latest Bavarian 3-Series range.
   Claimed top speed is in the order of 134 mph for the 2.5 V6 petrol engined car, with an ability to attain 60 mph in a little under 9 seconds in the same model. Expect an average fuel consumption in the mid-30s for petrol variants with 50 mpg being easily attainable if diesel powered.

   Prices start at 19,525 on-the-road for the 1.8 'Club' model, whilst the top-of-the-range 2.5-litre V6 'Connoisseur' retails for 25,625. A 'Classic' version, with prices beginning at 18,250 is expected to go on sale towards the end of the year.
   In conclusion, we consider the new Rover 75 to be a fine looking car and a thoroughbred of the highest order. Keenly priced, refined, well-equipped, stacks of interior space, a flawless built quality and you have the ingredients for the firm's most competent package for many years. If Rover's flagging fortunes are to be turned around and the glories of a past era recaptured, we feel this is the car that can do it.   

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