Used Rover 45 Saloon 1999 - 2005 review

Category: Family car

Apart from some engineering strengths, the Rover 45 car doesn't stack up against its rivals

Rover 45 Saloon (99 - 05)
  • Rover 45 Saloon (99 - 05)
  • Rover 45 Saloon (99 - 05)
Used Rover 45 Saloon 1999 - 2005 review
Star rating
Author Avatar
Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Rover 45 saloon 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, 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.


Apart from some engineering strengths, the Rover 45 car doesn't stack up against its rivals

  • Good range of reliable, well performing petrol engines and decent gearboxes
  • Slipped well behind the class leaders long before production ceased in 2005

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.

Ownership cost

What used Rover 45 saloon will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Rover 45 saloon?

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.

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Rover 45 saloon should I buy?

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.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


What alternatives should I consider to a used Rover 45 saloon?