This is my 3rd Rover Vitesse Turbo. They are very good value for money with this one being purchased from a friend of mine for £150. Normally they are 200Bhp, which is quite fast and will blow away a lot of competition. It will keep up with the likes of the 3 Litre Peugeot 406 coupe, BMW 328i, Subaru Legacy Turbo and ST220 Mondeos etc. With a small modification to the turbo waste-gate pipe, they can be made even faster, making a very nice induction noise and surprising anyone that tries to take it on.
Handling is not really the best, I have accidentally spun this car through 360 degrees, but that was mainly due to poor gripping rear tyres. It was not helped however by the lightweight behind of the 800 fastback. As long as shock absorbers and anti roll bar links are replaced when tired, the handling is good. I would say that it stays more level round corners than the Rover 620 ti, however the 600 has better overall handling.
I have always done maintenance myself on all my Rovers, and on the 800 it is easy with the large engine bay. The 2 Litre turbo lump looks quite small under the bonnet compared to the Rover 827 v6 engine which is very difficult to work on.
Things to watch on early versions of these cars are sticking valves which cause the engine to run very lumpy when cold. There are revised carbon-break valves now. Head gasket leaking is very common indeed, however it is usually a slow seep and is not worth worrying about. Something that is cause for concern is leaking from the differential seal at the bottom of the gearbox. Low oil levels in the gearbox lead to worn bearings, and failure of drive shaft splines. This ultimately results in the requirement of a replacement gearbox.
Inside the cabin, rattles are usually present from the door panels, dashboard, and the sunroof, but this is nothing that a few hours spent on a Sunday afternoon could not sort out. Some people think the interior now looks dated, but I disagree. There are no sharp corners and there is no sign of tacky black plastic anywhere. The real walnut veneer can be covered in a carbon graphite film to go with the darker plastics, but this wouldn't look good on the beige interiors.
Air conditioning systems usually don't work on the early 800s due to the number of joins on the system. Later air-con systems were revised and generally do work as long as they are maintained.
I get an average of 27mpg in my Vitesse, and that is running at higher boost. With careful driving, -especially round towns, 30+ is obtainable. This is remarkable for a car of this size, weight and most of all age!
Overall, a bargain can be had with the Vitesse. For a £1500 it is possible to pick up a revised version (post P reg) which offer better suspension, fixed gearbox problems and two airbags. They also come with 17" sport alloys which really set the car off.