This is the third time the Rover 45 has had a bit of a nip ’n’ tuck. With its replacement still over a year away, Rover’s C-segment contender gets some cosmetic upgrades to battle its rivals. Remember, most of the sheet metal dates back to ’95 and the then-new 400 series.
And even with a newly sculpted front and rear valance, neat one-piece headlamps and a modestly restyled interior, the shape is showing its age, inside and out. Highlighting the Rover’s grey hairs are the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and VW Golf. The Astra and Golf are all-new and the Focus, despite being six years old, is still the dynamic leader of the pack.
To the 45’s credit, it does everything a car should do with a sense of proficiency. Unwanted body movements are kept to a minimum thanks to firm suspension, and roll and pitch are well suppressed. The steering’s also nicely weighted, something of a rarity in a class where electrically-assisted racks are becoming the norm.
The 115bhp 1.8-litre K-series engine provides good performance, but not when paired with the pace-sapping £1150 CVT transmission our test car came with.
Inside, softer plastics for the dash, circular air vents, and a redesigned centre console with much-improved switchgear, help to lift and freshen the interior. But behind the white-faced Rover 75-style instruments and walnut-veneer dash inserts lies a cabin past its expiry date.
Prices start at £9995 for the 1.4-litre Classic hatch, rising to £16,195 for a loaded 2.0-litre diesel Connoisseur saloon. If you want one, some straight-forward haggling should see two grand removed from that.For all the Rover’s abilities, it still lacks the brilliance of the Golf and Focus.