Currently reading: 1990 Rover Metro GTi 16v – Throwback Thursday
This zippy lightweight hatch flaunted a responsive engine and surprisingly good build quality
Sam Sheehan
News
2 mins read
15 December 2016

Walk into a Rover dealer back in 1990 with £9500 and you could drive away in a shiny new Rover Metro 16v GTi.

The new-for-‘90 model replaced the MG Metro and sported a naturally aspirated K-series engine with twin-cams and a lively 95bhp. The little British hatchback went head-to-head with the likes of the Peugeot 205XS and Ford Fiesta 1.6S.

“Top speed is an impressive 113mph, but if you want a kick-in-the-back acceleration, look elsewhere,” is an early comment in our 8th August 1990 road test. “Despite Rover’s 9secs dead claim for the 0-60mph sprint, we could not better 9.8sec.”

While its outright pace might have trailed its closest rivals, the Rover engine’s character and quick responses were pleasant traits. “You can trickle away from near standstill in all but top gear, yet it revs to the 6500rpm redline with verve and enthusiasm,” we say.

The car’s performance handling was sweet too, partly thanks to the fitment of anti-roll bars. “This Metro is now very definitely grip-orientated. Deploying 185/55 section Pirelli P600s at each corner of a car weighing under 2000lb means you can squirt through bends with indecent haste,” we continue.

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But this strong grip only served to highlight the engine’s lack of power, meaning corner entry speeds were almost always met with significantly lower exit speeds.

Nevertheless, the overall package was still impressive. We closed with “It may not be such good value for money as other Metros, nor as comfortable, but it still takes up its place in the ranks of the junior performance hatches as the car to beat.”

A class-leading Rover? Suddenly 1990 feels like a long time ago...

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dougflump 16 December 2016

Metro

Drove a auto(CVT) one of these for a while, was the girlfriends company car, it drove very well had a nice smooth ride, steered crisply and had suprising mid range urge, it did 50k in 18 months or so, had a full leather interior nothing fell off or didn't work, a fondly remembered car.. was replaced by a BMW !
The Rookie 19 December 2016

I worked on the CVT as part

I worked on the CVT as part of the project team, it was way ahead of the competition, what bugged us is marketing insisted on changing the claimed 0-60 time as they didn't think the public would 'accept' a better time from an auto than a manual.
Richard H 16 December 2016

It Was Far better Than Autocar Said!

I had one too, loved it!

You could really throw it around and you could embarrass Nova GTE & XR2 Drivers easily.

That must have had a duff K Series, lovely little engine.

The seats were really good, although the driving position was a bit iffy.

I was gutted when I got an Astra 1.7D (which was really awful)company car and had to sell it.

I miss Rover as well, they seemed to launch a car and then forget t continue to develop it and everyone else did a better job, it was allowed to wither away by BAe and BMW....

Lovema75 15 December 2016

This made my day

I had one, and it was a rocket! Easily quicker than Autocar gave it credit for - perhaps Thiers was below par?

I miss Rover, I had lots of them, and there's nothing like them now. Cue the abuse I know, but I liked the wood trim and comfy nature.

hollyshaw444 15 December 2016

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courtster 16 December 2016

Lovema75 wrote:

Lovema75 wrote:

I had one, and it was a rocket! Easily quicker than Autocar gave it credit for - perhaps Thiers was below par?

Did you have the later MPi version with 105hp? I had a K-reg one with electric windows(!) of all things. It was much faster than the AX GT I traded it for.

typos1 16 December 2016

Maybe you had the later 103

Maybe you had the later 103 PS MPi version ? My mate did and it was a great drive despite the cramped bodyshell that dated from 1980.