The old 200's exceptional dynamics - chuckable handling, a fine ride, responsive steering and crisp cornering - shine as brightly as ever in the 25, and it's even better now that Rover has conceded the 25's true place lies in the supermini sector rather than in lower medium, as with the old 200. Considering the 200 was always conceived as a replacement for the Metro/Rover 100, this has not come before time. The entry 25 1.1 SE 3dr (on sale in the spring) will cost ú8,295 on-the-road, competing keenly with the likes of the new Punto and Fiesta. It's also just ú5 more than the cheapest new Polo, the 1.0E 3dr.
For the moment, the engine range consists of 1.4 (84 and 103PS), 1.6 (109PS), 1.8 (109PS - automatic only) and 1.8 VVC (145PS - GTI only). A 2.0-litre turbodiesel develops 101PS. Trim levels follow sporting (iS) and luxury (iL) lines, with Sport models trading electric door mirrors for a body-colour spoiler, front fogs and sports seats for a ú500 premium. Five-door models cost ú500 more than three-door.
Rover has also upped its warranty to a full three years/60,000 miles across the range, a welcome incentive to fleet buyers. It adds up to a better value package that looks competitive, particularly lower down the price range: further up - as the 1.8iL Steptronic 5dr model tested demonstrates - the 25 is more a competitor for lower medium models on price. Nevertheless, here it looks particularly good value at ú14,645 on-the-road compared with the likes of the Focus 1.6 Ghia auto (ú15,000) and Volkswagen Golf 1.6S auto (ú14,805), and it has the added advantage of a 1.8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.