Product Type: Rover cars
Newest Review: ... looking to dull so not to put off the younger drivers. Boomerang 416! My Story... I bought my Rover 416 Si in 2002 for the sum of £2,9... more
The car that came back to me! The blue boomerang Rover 416Si
Member Name: Novabug
Advantages: Good looking . Good build quality . Easy to work on . A genuine workhorse, keeps going and going.
Disadvantages: Some parts are now difficult to find . May be kind of dull looking after a while .
I have never been a person to chop and change my cars, mostly because of my financial commitments. I have only owned three cars since 1998, and two of them have been Rover's. Many people laugh at Rover vehicles, sometimes being termed "the poor mans BMW', or unfairly joked on how they may fall apart, or that they are always driven by, shall we say 'older people'. I never found this, or any other major design or production flaws with my two little gems, the first being a 200 SD and the second, a 416 Si. (But I do see a lot of older people driving them though!)
I'm writing this so I may provide a little insight to my personal experiences with my current Rover 416 Si, a car which I sold in 2007, only to re-purchase back in 2009. (I was given a company car with my then employer, and didn't require it.) In my two years apart from it, it didn't alter much, and just needed a fresh service and a little TLC. I have found owning and driving this car an enjoyable experience. None of the pre-conceptions of unreliably, shoddy build quality and cheap or delicate parts materialised. Having kept other cars but not owned, (Focus, Sierra, Mini, Polo, Corsa, Mondeo, Astra), this Rover stood up well to them on many factors.
A Sad Demise
Most people know that Rover vehicles are no longer built, due to the company being liquidated in 2005. The slow and painful demise of Rover was very complicated and drawn-out, so I'll try and simplify it a smidge. Originally the company was founded as British Leyland in 1975 (becoming infamous for it's vans and lorries), and became Rover in 1986. Along with the MG branding, it was then sold to BMW in 1994, who in turn after separating the Land Rover and Mini brands, sold the remaining assets to the Phoenix Consortium in 2000. The company was renamed MG Rover Group up until 2005, where it sadly was liquidated and all remaining assets were sold to the Nanjing Automobile Group. In 2008, Ford (who bought the brand rights from BMW previously), sold the redundant brands to Tata Motors. Attempts were made to resurrect the brand, but to no avail. Some MG models are still in production at Rover's old Headquarters at Longbridge, Birmingham.
My particular Rover was built in 1997, during BMW's reign, and was based off the body shape of the then Honda Civic. Rover and Honda collaborated in 1990 to produce cars based off the same layouts, but released with different drive trains, trim, names etc etc.. primarily for the European market. The Civic shape was nice, and with Rover adding their touch, I think made the car look very nice indeed. It came across clearly as a smaller family friendly car, without looking to dull so not to put off the younger drivers.
Boomerang 416! My Story...
I bought my Rover 416 Si in 2002 for the sum of £2,995. It is a metallic Tahiti Blue 5-Door Hatch back, 1.6 injection engine. The first time I got behind the wheel, I felt really comfortable with how well it drove. It was, (and still is to a degree) comfortable on the road, pulled away quickly, held the road nicely, easy to maintain and quite economical. It could do 38 to 39 mpg then, and I did travel all over Britain in it, certainly stretching its legs with no major breakdown or bodywork issues. I was regularly servicing it and kept it in great condition, but suddenly one day in 2006, POP! The head gasket suddenly gave up. I did seriously consider scrapping it at this point, but as I was in need a car desperately at the time, I had this repaired at the cost of £250. The engine recovered well enough, but never regained its former power and economical attributes. I believe now it can produce around 30 to 32mpg. It's original Bhp was 109, but due to the engines major repair, it now pushes out a mere 80 or 85 Bhp. Shortly after this, I sold it to a friend for £600, and thought I would never see it again. It had served me well, and I knew it would see it's days out with it's new owner, who needed it as a run-around to and from work. I then was driving a 2008 Focus estate which was a company car. I found this a terrific vehicle, but that's another story. Suddenly in the summer of 2009, I was unexpectedly made redundant (thank you Speedy Hire!), and therefore lost my lovely Focus. I needed a car again, and discovered my friend had bought a Corsa, and as he no longer needed the Rover I sold him, I offered him £250 for it back. He agreed, and low and behold, my 416 came back to me, so I knew exactly what to expect of it. I have now still got it, but it won't be long before it leaves me again, with an expanding family and the slow deterioration of the tough old workhorse, I will need something more reliable and more spacious.
Looks and Quality
I think this car looks lovely. I doesn't have any course or obviously ugly lines to the details. Its headlights are well spaced and of a good size, and the blub separation is good. The chrome grill looks good too, and the front generally has a nice symmetry to it which I like in all my cars. It has a large coloured bumper, which is surprisingly sturdy, and has taken the odd bump without damage. The windows all fit well, with quality rubber surrounds, as does the door sill trim and rear bumper. The back lights are my favourite design Rover came up with, the later models put the indicator lens on the inside of the cluster, which never looked as nice as the quarter-circle shaped affair on this model. There is a matching chrome surround on the number plate recess, which again looks tasteful and not to overblown. I wouldn't say this car stands out at all, it certainly doesn't turn heads in the slightest, but I don't think that is the point. As the car it was designed to be, a small family hatchback, it fill's all the requirements. The paint has held up to the punishment over the years, as has the general bodywork. There are a few rust holes appearing now, in the door sills where they meet the rear arches, and a small spot under the filler cap, but come on, it is 13 years old! It certainly hasn't rusted to a shell in 8 years, like some Fords I could mention, and it has at least 2 or 3 MOT passes until this bodywork needs a serious repair job. Rover must have got something right then because it keeps fighting on for me, even after I recently had a low impact front end bump. The bumper and bonnet got a little bent, but I repaired this without problems and there was no mechanical or important structural damage at all. So, to have put up with all of this, I feel it was built solidly and to last for quite a while to come.
It's build quality on the inside is good and strong, albeit with a few plastic-ish bits tacked on, and the imitation wood does look a little daft. Feeling rather spacious, it has a mostly dark grey, light grey and black colour balance, with an amber display (I like this colour more than others) and matching switch backlights. There is a centre mounted clock above the console, were all the usual heating controls are. It's de-mister takes about two minutes to get going, but does clear all the windows quickly and produces a fair amount of warmth. The steering wheel has two buttons for the horn, which is a nice loud boomer to boot. Again though, I have had no issues with switches or buttons falling out, seats breaking or handles snapping. I have made upgrades to the music system without problems, installing new door speakers, head unit, amp and twin sub-woofers. I found this really quite easy, and although getting the door inlays out was a tad awkward, they returned to fit perfectly back as before. Also, I have had to replace one of the electric window motors, as it was worn out. (Of course, drivers side!), and this again was done in 45 minutes. So, a modest interior yes, but functional, sturdy and stylish if maybe a little basic.
Features and Faults
This 416 is not the most affluent with the number of toys and gadgets it has to offer, but for a car manufactured in it's day it doesn't come bottom of the pile. ABS, Drivers Airbag, Tinted Glass, Heated and Electric Door Mirrors, Remote Boot Release, All-Electric windows and a rear wiper. That's your lot really, apart from my favourite, an Electric Sunroof, which doesn't appear a lot on today's cars due to the popularity of Air-Con, but I find this a great touch to any hard-top car. Most of these features are in fully working order, even after thirteen years, with only a problem with the door mirrors. It's security features are child-locks for all doors but the drivers, remote central locking, and an alarm and immobiliser with an entry time reset. All of which work fine even now.
Of course, with any car of this age, faults have happened. Most of these are more annoying than serious, and do not effect the cars performance or drivability. Notable problems are that the near-side door mirror no longer heats up, the clock sometimes becomes unreadable (an LCD fault), the interior light switch on the drivers door is temperamental and one of the lock remotes acts up a bit, that's all really. The only true design fault I have found is that the fuel gauge doesn't read correctly sometimes depending on whether the car is on the level surface, which is a rather odd thing to happen to a car made only a decade or so ago.
Yes, this I know this isn't the most desirable car ever to be made, I'm under no delusions there. Some people may say it looks dull and boring, but I don't agree. Of it's time, it was a nice car to own, and many people thought so too. Before the popularity of the VW's and Peugeots of this world, it was a top selling car in the UK. If you need a small cheap run-around, you can pick a decent one up from sellers like Ebay from as little as £200. Parts are always available this way too, but you may find that finding a specialist Rover mechanic to be a little hard, and some certain parts maybe have to be specially ordered from Rover fan-sites.
I just thought I'd give this car a thumbs up and a little defence of all the criticism and negativity that it, and Rover, have received over the years. It is such a shame that Rover are no longer around, because they did produce good vehicles on the whole, and they were an original British car manufacturer too. As far my 416 has gone, it has held up well to the daily riggers of my single days, my travels around the country, and now my busy family life, so it wasn't a bad buy in the end, and will always have a little place in my heart as the car that came back to me.
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Thanks for Reading.
Also Posted on Ciao.co.uk
Summary: Not bad as you may have been led to believe.