1997 Rover - Austin 400 i 1.4 from UK and Ireland


Excellent small family car


Clutch was worn off and had to be replaced at 70000 miles.

I had to replace the front part of the exhaust.

I know from the servicing history that the head gasket was replaced at 56000 miles.

I found once after heavy rainfall, that there is some rainwater on the bottom of the boot.

General Comments:

I think the car is underrated as its handling is very good, and the engine is a cracker.

The biggest issue is that if you are over 6 ft tall, and have to sit in the back- there is simply not enough headroom.

The 1.4 engine will suit one driving alone or with 2 persons, as it is a bit weak for a fully laden car. Wind noise is ever present, and annoying while travelling on motorways over 75 miles/h.

I like the classic shape, which aged well over time compared to its rivals - especially the french cars.

The car is reliable, but maintenance is very important, especially weekly coolant fluid checks to avoid engine overheating, which causes the well publicised head gasket failures.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th May, 2007

1997 Rover - Austin 400 414 Si 1.4 from Portugal


User friendly and powerful



Head gasket overheated.


Dead battery.

Some problem with the ignition, something minor has been replaced (before the car was in my hands so I don't really know the full story)

Some commands for the ventilation stopped working.

A/C has a very low output even though it has been recharged (this still haven't been looked up by a mechanic)

Tissues from the car's interior are now starting to fall off, after 10 years of existence.

General Comments:

Even though I've driven other cars in my life (not my own), this is my first car so read my review with that into consideration.

Apart from the now famous head gasket overheating problem on the Rover K Series engines, it really had no major problems after all the 220000 kms it drove through. I bought it with 180000 kms from my father, it has more 40000 kms by now and I still use it daily to get to work (the route is 50% urban and 50% highway) without any issue.

The engine is very good (apart from the obvious head gasket issue), the performance is above the average (even though the average isn't that high here in Portugal). The acceleration is quite good, I can outrun most competition and I reach a steady daily speed between 160 and 170 km/h on a short section of highway. I never tried to get closer to the engine's max output due to the car's age, and because it starts to feel a bit unsafe above those speeds (as any other car I suppose).

Handling is superb, I never felt unsafe at any curve at high speeds. The only time after years of driving that I felt the car's back wheels sliding a bit was at rainy conditions at high speeds, and that wasn't the cars fault, only the driver's.

Brakes are reliable and competent. I've never had an accident and they've avoided 2 sure crashes by now. I know some criticized Rover's brakes, but I have a hard time understanding that, they do their job pretty well and I was never surprised negatively by their behaviour while I was very surprised a couple of times by the positive.

Overall it's a very comfortable car to drive in for the time it was made. If I had to define it in one word, it would be "user friendly" (alright, 2 words). It sets a big difference to the roughness of a VW or Seat of the same time period, and has a feel of a very recent car to it while driving. It's all very soft, the pedals, the handling and the gears. Changing gears in this car can be done very quickly and effortlessly, and everything in the car's behaviour is very predictable.

I noticed most of this "old" Rover's comfort by driving my father's newest car, an Honda Civic. The Rover is more pleasant to drive and my father agrees.

I'm writting this review because this Rover's lifetime is slowly expiring, so I'm searching for a new car and this is a last testimony of my experience with my first actual car. I'm even considering getting a "new" used Rover or MG, one of those small 25 Turbo Diesel with the L series engine to avoid the head gasket failure.

Anyway, to all potential buyers of second hand cars, this is a very good choice. Just make sure you're aware of the head gasket overheating problems and take into account its fixing cost with the car's actual price, just to be safe.

Other than that, it's reliable, very comfortable, feels new, feels very safe (I'm unaware of its official safety ratings) looks updated on the street and the engine's performance will still put you on par with most of today's newest standard cars.

Also, prices are down because of Rover's bad reputation (the overheating issue and the fact that it's been sold out) so it's actually a good time to buy one of these very user friendly cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th April, 2007