1995 Rover - Austin 800 Vitesse Sport Saloon 2.0 turbo 16v 220PS from UK and Ireland
Flawed, but completely wonderful!!
Three replacement gearboxes early on. Third unit (modified) fitted at 20k and still going strong at 120k!
A few electrical gremlins.
Not much else.
Thanks to a dodgy image, constant press slatings and tragic depreciation, this car was one of the best kept secrets in motoring, in my opinion. Even though it only had a 2.0 engine and was absolutely huge, it truly went like stink and would wipe the smile off any hot hatch driver who took it on. The turbo engine was a peach, revving sweetly and providing massive mid range clout. Turbo lag was virtually non existent and everyone who went in or drove this car commented on how incredibly quick it was.
The biggest surprise as far as I was concerned though, was that it handled pretty well too. OK, it didn't have the poise and finesse of a BMW, but it wasn't too nose heavy, and turned in nicely. Reasonable feel and feedback too, and pleasantly devoid of the mush that often interferes in the fun when caning cars of this size.
Interior looked cheap and dated, and rattled badly from about 20,000 miles on, but with a set of gorgeous half leather Recaros and a good driving position, I wasn't too bothered.
The hardest thing to live with day to day were the running costs. Fuel consumption never bettered 30 mpg, and averaged around 23! Equally worrying was the fact that it would munch through a £500 set of front tyres in around 10,000 miles. Depreciation was sickening as well - the car was nigh on worthless (£2,500) when we sold it on.
The fact that you can pick up mint, 30,000 mile examples of this car for less than £4,000 means all the whinges of the contemporary reviews have become irrelevant. This car is subtle, rare and understated in a way that no BMW could ever be, as well as being rapid, well appointed and surprisingly reliable.
Or to put it another way, it's probably the most car you can buy for 4 grand!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th August, 2001