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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The 25 is cheap, quiet and has a roomy boot. Fuel consumption is good on petrols, too

Against The interior is plain, build quality is iffy, the turbodiesel is unrefined, and safety standards are poor

Verdict It's a cheap supermini with a decent drive, but well past its sell-by date

Go for… 1.4-litre petrol 5dr

Avoid… 2.0 turbodiesel

Rover 25 Hatchback
  • 1. There's reasonable space for passengers, but getting into the back seats in the three-door is difficult
  • 2. Used prices nose-dived when Rover went bust, but they’ve since stabilised
  • 3. The petrol engines are vulnerable to head gasket trouble if the coolant is allowed to get too low
  • 4. Inspect the inside of the oil filler cap - any milk-like emulsion there means trouble
  • 5. Look for uneven tyre wear and be sure the car tracks straight and turns smartly in to corners
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Rover 25 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The 25 is a reworked Rover 200 - and far better for the revisions.

Steer clear of the diesel, and you won’t have any complaints about the engine. All the petrols respond willingly for their size and go easy on the juice. They can sound a little rowdy when you’re going for it, though.

And you'll certainly do that, because the 25 handles well enough to make back roads fun. The ride is firm at town speeds, but the suspension works well once the car's going a bit quicker and it absorbs motorway creases well. The car's also nicely refined on a cruise.

However, with nothing else to concentrate on, you can't help but notice the cabin, which is bland and drab: it’s a bad combination. Still, it’s all laid out logically, and, fiddly stereo buttons apart, easy to use. The driving position isn't the best, though.

Inside, you get reasonable space for passengers, and the boot is family-shop friendly. However, getting at the back seats in the three-door is difficult.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Great value and buyers know it, later models better, particularly diesel

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Not the turbodiesel. It’s like diesels used to be before they got smooth, strong and refined. Worst of all, you’ll probably pay extra for the privilege of being saddled with the worst engine.

All of the petrols (1.1, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8) are eager, while the 148bhp 1.8 VVC turns the 25 into a respectable hot hatch. They’re also economical, but our money would go on the 1.4.

And, we'd recommend you go for a five-door, too, unless you rarely use the back seats. Access to them in the three-door is a contorted affair.

Many 25s have air-con, but otherwise, it's a bit spartan for creature comforts and safety kit - a passenger’s airbag was an option, and only the plush models have anti-lock brakes. Basic spec is no-name ‘i’, and E ups the ante only slightly, so aim for the L or sportier S. There'll be no problem tracking one down - you’ll find plenty of 25s on the used market.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Cooling problems bring big bills - overall reliability is good, though

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Used prices nose-dived when Rover went bust, but they’ve since stabilised. However, they’re still nice and low (good news for buyers), just no longer dropping like an elevator in a horror movie (good news for selling on again later).

You will, of course, not have the benefit of a manufacturer warranty, even on later cars, because that died with Rover. You may, therefore, want to include the cost of an independent mechanical breakdown insurance policy in your budget.

Talking of insurance, the fully comprehensive kind is reasonable for the 1.1 (group 3) and 1.4 (groups 3-6), with the 1.6 and 2.0 TD in group 7. The hottest 1.8 will land you in group 14.

Routine servicing won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet, and neither will filling up at the pumps - just over 40mpg for the 1.1 and 1.4, high-30s mpg for the 1.6 and 1.8, and low-50s for the 2.0 TD.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Great value and buyers know it, later models better, particularly diesel

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The petrol engines are vulnerable to head gasket trouble if the coolant is allowed to get too low. Look for signs of overheating - make sure you take the car for an extended test drive to see - and check for oil leaks between the top and block of the engine. Also, inspect the inside of the oil filler - any milk-like emulsion there means trouble.

The steering arm bush can wear, which affects handling and makes the car chew through tyres quickly. Look for uneven wear and be sure the car tracks straight and turns smartly in to corners. Watch out for leaking dampers.

Build quality on some cars is iffy. Keep an eye out for sticking boot locks, dodgy central locking, faulty electric windows, leaking seals and rusty hinges inside the boot. Give all the electrical kit a thorough going over, too, because Warranty Direct indicates that this is a particular weakness.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Cooling problems bring big bills - overall reliability is good, though

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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