SOTW: Rover 620ti

The British car industry hasn’t always been completely screwed. This car may look like a mini cab but this is a Rover 620ti - that’s ‘t’ as in ‘turbo’ - and it represents a time when we could at least pretend that Rover was on the up. To be honest we probably all knew it wasn’t but at least it gave us a glimmer of hope.


The Rover 600 was a car that was entering into road tests with the big guns like Ford and Vauxhall, but still managed to hold its head up high. It wasn’t even bad looking and managed topick up a design award or two. But the turbo version had another trick up its sleeve – it was very, very fast. Packing 197bhp in 1994 was headline grabbing stuff, bearing in mind the mighty Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth of a few years earlier made do with only 7bhp more.The 620ti was the car that would take the fight to BMW and as far as bangs for bucks it had the Germans licked.


16” six-spoke alloys? Check. Rubbish wood trim? Check. Dark half-leather seats? Check. Wheelspin of biblical proportions? Highly likely. This car would hit 60mph in seven seconds and as you hammered past people at over 145mph they could only conclude that you were extremely late for a whist drive. To use the car like a hot hatch was to miss the point, this was an effective high-speed cruiser, and the 2.0 litre engine was smooth and refined. Some people said the only way you knew you were going so fast was to look at the speedo, which probably wasn’t a good idea when the turbo was spooling up.

Who cares that it was basically a Honda in drag and you looked like a geriatric joy rider, the 620ti was a (slightly) desirable car that made people proud of Rover. We knew that with the 620ti Britain was back on the motoring map and the rest of the world knew not to mess. Of course it all went wrong not long after that but there are a few examples of this road warrior still around.


We found this example on autotrader.co.uk and I can’t imagine many around this good. It has just 77,000 miles and is in gleaming ‘Nightfire Red’ which has always been my personal favourite. The seller claims it is in excellent condition and has recently had a full service. There appears to be stacks of history to back up the mileage, and it recently had a full service. The cambelt has been done recently, and there is a new clutch and exhaust. New tyres at the front are a huge bonus and should be good for another 50 miles and the other two are nearly new. There are heated mirrors, electric sunroof, ABS, the list goes on, with everything in perfect working order. This is a fast Rover that didn’t need an MG badge stuck on to give it credibility. It really is jolly tempting.

1994 ROVER 600 620 Ti 4dr Saloon £999 ono

Manual, 72,000 miles, This is the 197bhp turbo version of Rover's flagship luxury model (built to compete with BMW / Mercedes). A very refined, well equipped, quick car (0-60 in 7.0 seconds and on to 147mph) with surprisingly good fuel economy (driven well and running high octane (99ron) fuel can achieve 30-35 mpg). In


gleaming metallic nightfire red, this is a stunning example with very rare ultra low mileage. Immaculate inside & out with 6 Months MOT (12th June, 2008). Full service history including a recent full service and loads of receipts. The cambelt has also been done. New exhaust AND clutch last year (less than 4,000 miles ago) plus 2 new Pirelli P6000 tyres on the front - the other 2 are nearly new as is spare. 4 x Electric windows, electric heated mirrors, electric sun roof, ABS, remote central locking & alarm (with 2 fobs / keys). Aircon just regassed and very efficient. 16" 6 Spoke sports alloy wheels. Half leather 'Regency' interior with electric height adjustment on the driver?s seat and a brand new set of tailored floor mats. Everything is in perfect working order. A very clean, comfortable, reliable car - a pleasure to drive and a sought after model. Completely original and well loved / maintained. Surprisingly good on insurance (cost me just over £300 fully comprehensive with protected NCD). Baby on the way forces reluctant sale. £999. ono

 

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If you are wondering what happened to the Peugeot 205 GTI we bought I’ll give you a quick update. Unfortunately we have become rather attached to it so mostly I’ve been driving it around, and it has been totally reliable. We did put it on eBay and the winning bidder backed out without viewing it, and then we learnt the hard way that putting a car on Autotrader’s website over Christmas wasn’t perhaps the best idea. However we need to sell it to move on and get something else, so if you want to bid here it is.

Comments (79) Join the discussion on the forum

  • madtriumphman 11 Feb 2009

    The sky is rolling up on cardboard rollers..........!

    I really want one of these, looked at one the other night but the turbo was knackered....the seller said it didnt have a turbo fitted, so I showed him where it was under the bonnet! Turns out that He had had the car for 2 years & never realised it was a turbo.....KN*B!!

    Anyway has anyone got one that I can buy? Dont want a scabby chavved up abused example - I want a decent well looked after example......

    PS - Cant find this one on autotrader so I guess its sold.....

  • Rocknrolla 02 Oct 2008

    Hi all,

    I've been pointed in this direction by a friend who frequents this site and its forums.

    After reading the replies to the feature on the 620ti, I thought I'd just add a few things, and also, some of the far fetched stories and huge innacuracies gave me a good chuckle!

    It would appear that on the whole, the feedback for this model was quite positive, and rightly so, it's a good car. Yes, there are better cars, faster, better handling, and accordingly, they cost more, so let's not get caught in that particular trap for starters.

    A few random things I'm going to pick on from various threads in absolutely no order, and no naming of names at this stage, but:

    There is no such thing as an 820ti

    All 620ti models came with a type B TorSen diff.

    'Chocolate' pistons as referred to are actually made by AE, though some very early ti models were fitted with Mahle pistons. The AE piston 'issue' is more to do with people leaving the stock intercooler in place and winding up the boost on the Garrett T25 turbo, thus substantially raising boost temps and causing the engine to expire prematurely. You can say that there are plenty of motors out there that will take huge increases in boost on stock components, well this isn't one of them, so no sense in arguing the toss. A more efficient intercooler and larger turbo will allow high boost to be used with factory reliability. A common transplant is the T28. Though allowing more lag, a T3 could also be employed, though the manifold flange needs modification.

    These cars did not suffer HGF, but most suffered a very small weeping of oil at the front right of the block to head area (actually the rear right if we're being pedantic), this is caused by the main oil gallery being slightly out of clamping line with the headbolts. It's usually such an insignificant amount that it's not worth bothering about. Changing the headgasket will cure it, but only temporarily. One solution is to insert a snug fitting short length of copper pipe between the gallery ways which pretty much eliminates the problem. It's a pity Rover didn't effect such a cure, but it's all time and money I suppose, short sighted though that view may have been. So to reiterate, a slight oil weep on the front right of the engine IS NOT a sign of HGF.

    The window runner problem is something which a lot of 600s seem to get, though the Euro CD Accord also suffers the exact same issue. The best way to avoid this problem is to keep the rubber channels well lubed with silicone enriched spray (say, 'back to black'), this is a practice which should be carried out on all cars though really.

    Many complaints of handling not being the best, news flash time, it's not a hot hatch, it's a big comfy cruiser with motorway work in mind. That said, when fitted with decent tyres, they don't handle too badly at all, at worst, you could describe them as safe and predictable. Perfect then, as a daily driver, which is what this car is intended to be.

    This also leads me onto the myth of these cars chewing through tyres in a matter of months, my own ti had a full set of fresh Goodyear NCT5s fitted nearly two and a half years ago, and while the fronts are more worn (you don't say), they still have at least 3 to 4mm of tread left.

    What is this colossal torque steer that I hear of on here? All high powered FWD cars will suffer to a degree with torque steer to a degree, but it has to be said it's virtually undetectable in this car, due to the diff and a well sorted front suspension setup. Severe torque steer with one of these cars points to severely worn suspension components (intergalactic mileage) or badly repair crash damage.

    Gearboxes, as already covered, can be a weak point, but again, if the car is thrashed all the time, this should come as no surprise. Gearboxes should always be filled to level with the correct MTF94 transmission oil. And as already said, gearboxes can be rebuilt with steel caged bearings. If you fancy going DIY, the bearings can be had for very little from various suppliers or even ebay, and while time consuming, it isn't a hard job to complete.

    By the fact that someone suggested the 623 to be a more reliable car really confirms for me the amount of ignorance about the Rover powered models. The Honda H23A engine was a strong performer with decent economy for its size, with a good spread of power and torque, but unfortunately, it had a penchant for cracking its cylinder head, and good replacements are all but impossible to find, I know as it took hell's delight to try and find one for a customer a few years back. The SOHC Honda engines though are even if a little lack-lustre, good solid, reliable performers. Rover L series diesel is a bullet proof unit capable of interstellar mileage, with excellent economy. Let's not forget Honda used the L series for the Euro CD Accord of the same era.

    Brakes, it's funny, but a lot of people seem to have this theory that they're particularly effective. Just because they're not over-servoed doesn't make them bad. With proper maintenance and fitment of decent quality OE specification pads, on the road they work just fine. Rear callipers can seize, causing poor parking brake performance. In most cases, a thorough strip, clean and regrease will bring them back to life.

    If driven sensibly, these cars will return between 26 to 30 mpg, depending on traffic conditions and outside temperatures, and state of repair.

    In all, because of the low value of these cars, people buy them cheaply, thrash them, abuse them, negate to maintain and service them, and then someone else buys the car, it goes wrong and that gives rise to the 'worst car I ever bought', or most unreliable car ever' type comments.

    Looking on ebay, a lot have fallen into the the hands of boyracers who have turned a few examples into 'The Fast and the Furious' rejects, fitment of cheap bleed valves and innacurate boost gauges etc, call me Mr Obvious, but winding the boost up and thrashing the car around will have a negative effect on just about every aspect of the vehicle, no?

    Low worth and therefore high neglect has, I think in general been something which has afflicted Rovers for years, again, due to their relatively low value and 'throw away' status.

    I bought mine two and a half years ago, it had lots of history with it, and had been an ex lease car for 'Leisureways', so the services had always been kept on top of. Just about every receipt is present, and all work documented. The turbo, gearbox, headgasket etc are all original, it's now knocking on the door of 120,000 and so far so good. Excellent reliabilty with no down time or breakdowns.

    We're all entitled to our opinions, but some are severely mis-informed.










  • chrisbr68 10 Jan 2008

    Al 450 said:
    chrisbr68 said:
    I think Richie raises a decent point, but at the end of the day it punches well above its weight in the performance department, even after you blow all that money on it.

    Actually, giving further thought to this, are these only issues once you start modifying?

    Edited by chrisbr68 on Thursday 10th January 13:17
    Not really a load of money, gearbox rebuild £250, head Gasket £200, boost controller £60. Don't forget the first two may already have been done or may not need doing.
    Dont get me wrong, its not that much, but compared to the value of the vehicle it is!

    I think £60 is quite a lot for a mechanical boost controller too, arent the GBE's about £20 or so?

  • Al 450 10 Jan 2008

    chrisbr68 said:
    I think Richie raises a decent point, but at the end of the day it punches well above its weight in the performance department, even after you blow all that money on it.

    Actually, giving further thought to this, are these only issues once you start modifying?

    Edited by chrisbr68 on Thursday 10th January 13:17
    Not really a load of money, gearbox rebuild £250, head Gasket £200, boost controller £60. Don't forget the first two may already have been done or may not need doing.

  • chrisbr68 10 Jan 2008

    I think Richie raises a decent point, but at the end of the day it punches well above its weight in the performance department, even after you blow all that money on it.

    Actually, giving further thought to this, are these only issues once you start modifying?

    Edited by chrisbr68 on Thursday 10th January 13:17

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