Rover Cars

UK CAR Reader Review : Rover 420 SDi

Details Performance

Faults to date,




The engine is the best feature of this car. There is no red line on the tacho so you can rev it higher than conventional diesel engines. The turbo kicks in at about 1900 rpm and provides a real thump in the back. By careful driving it is possible to provide a surge of power when overtaking that will sweep past petrol cars, but get it wrong and you are left struggling to keep up at the traffic lights.

At the other end of the performance spectrum you can climb fairly steep hills in 1st gear with the engine just ticking over. I.e. in a queue of traffic you don’t have to keep slipping the clutch. Just take all your feet off the pedals and steer at about 3 mph. Try that in a petrol car!

The brakes are good except for the handbrake and the ABS works well, it saved me once on the motorway where I managed to steer and avoid a car whereas the chap behind skidded onto the central reservation.

Road holding is what I would describe as adequate, possibly due to tyres.

Visibility is good except I'm never sure where the back is when parking, but then I have that problem with most cars.

The interior seat trim is nothing to write home about. It’s grey velour, which seems to trap all the bits into the surface and need a lot of effort to get them out with the vacuum. It’s comfortable to sit in and I’ve had no problems driving 200 miles non-stop. An annoying quirk is the clutch pedal seems to have a long travel and be set high so every time I change gear my foot catches the front trim panel.

The rear seats backrest are split but the seat cushion isn’t which seems odd because the backrests fold forward. So to carry a long load you have to lift the rear seat and then drop the backrest. This means you can’t have a passenger in the unused seat. Why split the backrest but not the cushion?

Load space with the rear seats dropped is good. I’ve carried 8 bags of gravel and one occasion an 8 foot long steel I beam, with the hatch closed!

It has electric windows all round and the drivers is auto drop but not raise. The rear windows only drop about 2/3 the way, I’m not sure why.

The ventilation is a definite minus because as soon as it rains heavily the windows mist up and you have to run the air conditioning to see where you are going.


In comparison I’ve driven a Peugeot 406 hdi 110 and an Audi A5 TDI (115). The Peugeot had a better spec and feel but didn’t give as much driving satisfaction and the Audi was very odd in that the engine produced max power at about 1500 rpm and then was flat thereafter. Again there was no satisfaction in getting the best out of the car.

If you can afford it go for a higher spec, a colleague with a 420 Gsi with big alloy wheels had much better handling.


Overall it works as a practical car, the annoying quirks are overridden by the engine

Would I recommend it?  Yes but not at (then) 17000 and the design is now quite dated.


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