Odd few rattles about the car - most fixed with a bit of screw tightening.
As expected due to research I believe my head gasket had gone in the past. I was not told by the dealer although it had signs of it being done (belts changed far earlier than necessary and a bit of gunk in the coolant pipes).
After a good head gasket repair, these engines can go on for donkeys years if cared for properly.
If you warm the car up before thrashing it, you shouldn't have a head gasket go on these engines any more often than an American equivalent.
The inlet manifold gasket leaked a bit (known to happen on the models with the plastic manifold + original cheap gasket) - replaced myself with an uprated one (easy as cake with a torque wrench and Haynes manual).
Admittedly a bit sticky on occasion putting it into 1st gear (again common problem with the french R65 gearbox). Not bothered now I'm used to it. (I throw from 4th to 1st gear and it slides in like silk)
Everything else seems very solidly built (beyond comparison to a French car of the same year)
- This car has a low insurance group, good safety features and comes well equipped with the odd luxuries.
- Comfy enough seats with good support and everything on the dash falls to hand nicely.
- Some may disagree, but I say it's a looker! Even in 5 door form it's a pretty lil thing with the look of toned muscle in the right places (just look at some good pics and you'll see what I mean)
- With a good set of front tyres, the brakes (with ABS) could pull a face off if need be.
Performance wise - I adore this car for these features.
- The chassis gives great road holding grip.
- The steering is light enough, while feedback is lovely and confidence inspiring.
- That Rover K-series engine... ooh I love how it can rev to 6500 rpm+ without a care.
Good mid range torque (some say it lacks low down in the revs, however I think this is due to the gearbox having some longer than normal city car gear ratios). You simply need to keep it above 1500 rpm 1st to 3rd gear, and 2000+ rpm in higher gears for easy cruising.
- If used correctly it brings back 35-40mpg round town, and around 45mpg on the motorway.
The 1.4 engine (103bhp model) is very similar performance, however I recommend the 1.6 as it has more torque, making a relaxed cruise more possible.