Fleet News

Rover 75 CDT Club SE

Review

IT HAS had more publicity than most cars scheduled for introduction this year, much of it overshadowed by the political and industrial strife affecting Rover but, amid all the protracted jibes from those cashing in on the company's current misfortunes, is the new 75 going to make waves like it needs to?

It's a question that cannot be answered in full until the car goes on sale on June 14. Only sales indications will give us any clue as to how well the 75 has been received by customers and, judging by early reaction from the leasing industry, it awaits a cautious greeting. There's little doubt its residual value predictions have been hit by the uncertainty surrounding Rover: the results of a recent contract hire survey has revealed average RVs among five suppliers hovering around the 36% of cost-new mark, reflective of shaky confidence in the company and its products.

Rover corporate sales director Steve Harris maintains there will be no forcing of volumes on the 75, with a block on daily rental business and active encouragement of customers to extend change cycles from 12 months to two years. 'Discounting will not be great and we won't be pushing the 75 into fast-cycle business such as daily rental,' he says. 'We are aiming for quality custom with the 75, and 80% of UK sales will go to the corporate sector - some 32,000 cars a year.'

Three basic trim levels are on offer - Classic, Club and Connoisseur - with standard and SE variants of each. At launch, only Club and Connoisseur models are available, starting at ú19,525 on the road for the 1.8 Club and rising to ú25,625 for the 2.5 V6 Connoisseur SE. In the autumn, a cheaper 1.8 Classic model debuts, priced at ú18,275.

The way the 75 is pitched in its market may present problems for Rover's range as a whole: though the 75 replaces both the 600 and 800 ranges, its entry pricing places it firmly in contention with other premium upper medium products such as the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. That leaves a gap between the top of the 400 range and the cheapest 75 - particularly as the price-leading 75 Classic doesn't hit the showrooms until the autumn. The most expensive 400 - the 420GSDi -costs ú18,805 while the petrol 420 GSi is ú17,970. But the acid test is how the new car stacks up on the road. Will aspiring 3-series owners be tempted away by the Rover?

Tested here is the diesel-powered CDT in Club SE form, priced at ú21,075 on the road.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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