The spotlight thrust upon the 75 and the resulting analysis of the car was unprecedented.
How many other cars have had the title 'company saviour' thrust upon them in the same way as the 75? Now, almost four years after it was first unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show, I'm back as editor of Fleet NewsNet after a spell on sister title Automotive Management and able to review the car in a much more objective way.
Let's bear in mind a simple fact. Rover is still with us, therefore the 75 must have done its job in sustaining what was once cruelly dubbed by the media, 'the English patient'.
Rover says that, of the 15,500 75s sold in 2001, about 2,500 were diesels, twice the number of the previous year. The 75 is now a common sight on our roads, with the newly introduced Tourer gaining ground. It is easy to see why; the car's styling has always been a strong point and time has not dulled the appeal of the smooth lines reminiscent of classic Jaguar styling.
Build quality, trumpeted at the time of launch as surpassing BMW's, is true to form. There is a comforting rigidity to the panels and fittings. The switchgear all feels screwed down firmly and works without fuss. And it's amazing how much difference small things can make to the driving experience.
The sculpted gear-knob fits in the palm of the hand perfectly, adding a lot to easy gearchanging. It would be a pity to lose this experience - and pay £1,200 - for the automatic. There are a multitude of seating positions available and with adjustable steering, high mileage comfort is simple to achieve for all shapes and sizes.
Now for the niggles. There is no rear wiper. The demister, which comes on when you start the car, helps, but not enough on winter mornings. Also there is a clicking noise coming from the rear view mirror or sunroof controls. I think it may be the plastics expanding as the interior warms up. Whatever it is I've not encountered it before and it is annoying.