What's the used Rover 45 hatchback like?
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, a four-door saloon and this 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 top 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.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Rover 45 hatchback?
It may surprise you to learn that the British-built Rover 45 held its head relatively high in the What Car? JD Power customer satisfaction surveys: it has managed a mid-table finish.
Of course, the 45's not without its problems, and blown head gaskets 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 a 45. Loose trim and faulty electrics can also cause frustration if not spotted before the cash is handed over.
What are the most common problems with a used Rover 45 hatchback?
Is a used Rover 45 hatchback reliable?
What used Rover 45 hatchback will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Rover 45 hatchback?
It's important not to pay over the odds for a used 45, because they are not the cheapest cars to insure in this class.
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.
Which used Rover 45 hatchback should I buy?
Ignore the diesel versions, 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's 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 with the Steptronic CVT automatic gearbox, but whether such a small car merited such a large engine is debateable.
Certainly 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.
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