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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For Good range of reliable, well performing petrol engines and decent gearboxes

Against Slipped well behind the class leaders long before production ceased in 2005

Verdict Apart from some engineering strengths, this car doesn’t stack up against its rivals

Go for… 1.4-litre petrol hatchback

Avoid… 2.0-litre diesel

Rover 45 Saloon
  • 1. Reliability is okay, but blown head gaskets on four-cylinder petrol engines are not uncommon
  • 2. The front suspension can be prone to faults, and needs checking thoroughly before you buy
  • 3. There's not enough space for tall passengers in the back
  • 4. Don't pay over the odds for a used 45, because they're not the cheapest cars to insure in this class
  • 5. The cabin has a decidedly old-fashioned feel, and the driving position is poor
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Rover 45 Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Rover 45 replaced the Honda Civic-based 400 in 1999, but it was far from an all-new model. The headlights, front grille and bumpers were revised, but much of the bodywork remained the same, although the engines and interior were revamped.

Two models were launched, this four-door saloon and a more practical, family-friendly five-door hatch. The petrol engines have always enjoyed a good reputation for refinement and performance, and the gearboxes are good, too.

Although Rover steadily improved the 45’s ride and handling during its six-year life, it’s fair to say the car was never at the forefront of the class. The sense of feel and driver involvement never matched that of the much more enjoyable Ford Focus.

The cabin has a decidedly old-fashioned feel, and the driving position is poor, while any tall adults confined to the rear seats simply won’t have enough space.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Later face-lift models are easy to sell whether petrol or diesel

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Don't bother with the diesels, for a start. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel is available in two states of tune, 100 and 110bhp, yet even the more powerful version fails to do the business. It short of low-down punch and, perhaps more crucially, it's unrefined. If you want a quiet, civilised life, it’s best avoided.

The 2.0-litre KV6 engine was well received and worked well when mated to the Steptronic CVT automatic gearbox, but whether such a small car merited such a large engine is debateable.

Instead, we have always favoured the smallest and simplest, in the form of the 102bhp 1.4, although the 107bhp 1.6 and 115bhp 1.8 are impressive, too.

In April 2004, the 45’s exterior was revised and the interior freshened up. There were further enhancements in 2005, and before the end came, final-spec GLI cars had alloy wheels and leather trim. It’s worth sourcing a GSI if you can, because that also gets air-con.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Excellent reliability with low failure rates and repair costs

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

It's important not to pay over the odds for a used 45, because they're not the cheapest cars to insure in this class. Even the lowly 1.4 petrol attracts a relatively high group 7 rating.

Fuel economy is good, though. Choose the 1.4, or even the more powerful 1.6 petrol and, provided the engines are in a good state of tune and you're not too heavy on the throttle, you could achieve up to 40mpg.

Pick the CVT model mated to the 1.8 petrol engine, and you should get around 30mpg in everyday use - more on long, steady motorway runs.

The days of taking your Rover to an official dealer are, of course, over, but there’s still an extensive network of independents out there with good knowledge of the product, so having work carried out is no more expensive than having a Ford Focus fettled.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Later face-lift models are easy to sell whether petrol or diesel

James Ruppert
Used car guru

It may surprise you to learn that the British-built Rover 45 held its head relatively high in the What Car? JD Power surevys: it has managed a mid-table finish. Okay, so that’s not a fantastic result, but it beat the Nissan Almera, Renault Megane, Citroen Xsara and Peugeot 307.

Of course, the 45’s not without its problems. Blown headgaskets on four-cylinder petrol engines are not an uncommon fault. The tell-tale signs include a dipstick that looks like it’s coated in mayonnaise.

Even if you buy a sound engine, check regularly for water leaks because the coolant capacity was never really big enough and the fluid can drain away all too quickly, leading to problems.

The front suspension can be prone to faults, too, and needs checking thoroughly before you buy. Loose trim and faulty electrics can also cause frustration if not spotted before the cash is handed over.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Excellent reliability with low failure rates and repair costs

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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