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Rover 400 (1995 - 1999)

CLASS WITHOUT THE COST (some text hidden)

BY JONATHAN CROUCH

Introductionword count: 79

The Rover 400 announced in 1995 was the last of the company's collaborations with Honda. It was based on the same design used by the Japanese company's Civic five-door but was executed with a touch more class. Chrome and wood touches couldn't, however, hide the fact that, despite Rover's claims, this was not a Mondeo-sized car. Think Escort and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find the Rover a little larger than you expect. It's a sound family hatchback all-rounder.

Modelsword count: 35

Models Covered: 4dr saloon & 5dr hatch, 1.4 8v & 16v, 1.6, 2.0 turbo diesel & intercooled turbo diesel [base, i, Si, SE, SLi, GSi, iE, iS, iL, XL, Executive, D, SD, SDi, SLDi, GSDi]

Historyword count: 287

At its launch in May 1995, Rover intended to establish the 400 as the class-conscious choice amongst buyers who would otherwise have chosen Escorts or Astras. A five-door hatchback was on offer first, with a smart saloon version added in March 1996. To be honest, you could probably guess at the 400's aspirations from the liberal use of chrome and walnut, intended to set Rover's mid-ranger further apart from the shopping car set. Plus, of course, there was that trademark chrome grille, stylishly incorporated into an imposing front end. Under the bonnet, the hardware was virtually all Rover's own, with the bulk of the range made up of British-built award-winning 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0-litre 16-valve petrol engines. Only the 1.6-litre automatic had Honda power. The first 2.0-litre turbo diesels were introduced in December 1995, with the range widened to include the saloon in March 1996. Air conditioning was added to most models in June 1997. The saloon models were identifiable by clear front indicator lamps (a styling tweak carried over to the hatchback in 1998). The line-up received its last range of revisions in 400 form in May 1999, when the trim line-up was revised to run from SEi, to iE, then iL and iS (which for the previous two months had been special editions), then XL and Executive. At this point, the lower-powered of the two turbo diesels was dropped, with only the 105bhp unit retained. The 45, replacing the 400, was announced in October 1999 with a distinctive four-headlight nose and numerous detail styling and mechanical changes. These include the availability of Rover's own CVT automatic transmission, in place of the previous Honda unit, and the V6 engine promised but never delivered for the 400.

What You Getword count: 148

As we've said, the 400 is a little larger than its family hatchback rivals, some six inches longer than an Escort and a foot longer than Peugeot's 306. Five adults can be accommodated reasonably comfortably, but more impressive is the capacious boot, which makes the most of the Rover's extra inches. Inside the cabin, there isn't quite as much room as the exterior packaging suggests. Still, user-friendly features include plenty of oddment space for maps, tapes and coins and you'll find that the stereo display is separate from the actual unit, making the theft of it effectively pointless. Every model will have a driver's airbag, while a passenger-side `bag was an option below SLi level. On the security front, a dual perimetric and volumetric alarm system with passive engine immobilisation was also standard across the range. Most versions have electric front windows and, from June 1997, air conditioning.

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Category: Compact Family Cars

Performance
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Handling
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Space
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