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Rover 75 1.8T

Broadcast dates : 30th May 2004/3rd June 2004

This year marks Rover's centenary and its seventy-five series sedan is probably the best model in the Rover line-up. One of the last remaining independently-owned British manufacturers, Rover has an amazing heritage and this 75 series is worthy of the famous name.

The 75 1,8T Club comes in both five-speed manual and automatic form and this car is built to compete with the likes of Audi's 1.8T and the BMW 320i.

It has a very pleasing exterior and looks wonderful in black. The chrome trim on the flanks and grille add to its distinctly British charm.

The multispoke alloy wheels, too, are the epitome of restrained good taste, and yet the styling also hints at very capable performance.

The 1,8T model uses a turbocharged version of Roverís K-Series four-cylinder engine. The engine has been around for some years now in the Rover line-up and also powers various MG models, MG being very much a part of the Rover stable.

In fact the company, owned by a consortium of British investors, is officially known as MG-Rover

In turbocharged form the Rover 75 produces one hundred and ten kilowatts, while the 75 is also available with a two comma five litre, naturally-aspirated V6 engine.

The turbo engine comes into its own at high altitude. The V6, rated at one hundred and thirty kilowatts, is a refined unit but a little on the lazy side at altitude. The Turbo is slightly busier, but it provides plenty of torque.

A total of two hundred and fifteen Newton metres of torque is available between two thousand and four thousand rpm, and this makes the 1,8T a very driveable car in cut-and-thrust traffic.

It is also pretty good on acceleration. It offers a zero to one hundred sprint of just over nine seconds and a two hundred and ten kilometres per hour top speed, so performance is very competitive in this fully-equipped vehicle.

Our only criticism of the engine is that it suffers from a little too much high-frequency vibration at certain points in the engine rev range. This manifests in a slight tingling in the throttle pedal at about two thousand five hundred revs and again at about five thousand revs.

So it is better to ride the fat swell of the torque curve, changing up earlier rather than revving it hard.

Many turbo engines suffer from throttle lag, but this is not one of them. Part of the secret is that it runs very low turbo boost levels, coupled to a high compression ratio of nine comma two to one.

But it is in the overall feel of the car that the Rover nameplate pays its dues. The materials used and the level of assembly is up to the best industry standards. The use of wood and leather is entirely appropriate in this car and there is never the feeling that these items have been simply tacked on to give a luxury ambience.

The bodyshell is solid, free of creaks and groans even on rough roads, and the cabin has a cosy, intimate feel.

As far as safety is concerned there are side airbags for both front and rear passengers, as well as the usual front airbags for the front-seat occupants. And the car has the full compliments of active safety devices such as traction control and ABS braking.

The audio system is not quite up to the standard of the rest of the cabin and MG Rover would do well to begin fitting top quality CD-radio units as its competitors do in this market. However the standard climate control system is very efficient.

Very pleasing to the eye are the ocre-coloured instruments with "grandfather-clock" style script and the solid door handles and doorsill embellishments.

Dynamically the car is firmly-sprung, befitting of Rover's sporting heritage achieved early in its existence as a car maker. But the gear lever could do with a bit more "feel".

The price is pegged against the equivalent turbocharged model from Audi. The two hundred and fifty four thousand rand for the five-speed manual is four thousand Rand more expensive than the Audi A4 1.8

The automatic version sells for two hundred and sixty five thousand Rand.

All in all, a good solid car from Rover, spoilt just a touch by the slight harshness of the engine. Very good to look at, and a car to stand out from the crowd. One that will inspire pride of ownership.

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