Rover 200/400 (1989 – 1997) Review

Rover 200/400 (1989 – 1997) At A Glance


+Banger money currently, but the best examples are now finding some demand, the 1.6 Honda engine is sweet and refined, but expensive to fix

-Despite being so desirable new now tarred with unfortunate image, diesels are noisy and unrefined, head gasket failure on later 1.6-litre K-Series engines all too common

The Rover 200 and 400 was a much-needed and well-regarded success. It was the second joint venture with Honda, following on from the 800, although the 200 and Honda Concerto were far closer in design than the earlier car. When launched in 1989, the Rover 200 (R8) brought much-needed to class to its market sector, with well-trimmed interiors and brilliant multi-valve engines - both from Honda and Rover, with the new K-Series.

The Rover 200/400 ended up being offered with a number of body variations. First off was the five-door hatchback, but that was quickly followed by the four-door 400 saloon in 1990 and three-door 200 hatchback the following year. In 1992, it was joined by the Tomcat coupe, and in 1993 the Cabriolet went on sale. The final piece of the 200/400 jigsaw was launched in 1994 - the five-door Tourer was a stylish and sporting estate car, which majored on luxury rather than capaciousness.

The 200/400 was a consistent top-five seller in the UK, but its replacements - the new 200 and 400 failed to capitalise on the older car's popularity, and so began the final phase of Rover's terminal decline. Currently in the gutter, but there's signs that the Tomcat especially is beginning to attract a cult following.

Ask Honest John

Can I contact Rover to confirm my car's emissions?

"I have an issue with my Rover 1990 416 GTI Auto which I have owned from new. The V5C has no entries in the exhaust emissions section V1, V2, V3, V4, and V5 mainly because, at the time of this cars manufacture, there was no requirement to record this on the V5C. I understand I can get this info from the manufacturer and is recorded on the Vehicle Conformity Certificate (VCC). With the possible increase in the size of the London ULEZ zone to include all areas within the M25, I understand I can apply to Transport for London for an exemption with the VCC information. Can you advise who or where the current Rover Cars head office is so I can contact them for this info?"
Rover went into administration in 2005 and was sold to Nanjing Automobile Group. Its UK subsiduary is now MG. The listed head office for MG Motor UK Ltd is Lowhill Lane, Longbridge, Birmingham, B31 2BQ. Their telephone number is 0845 3036464 and their email address is This would be your best port of call to begin with.
Answered by David Ross

What is the best Rover 400 model to buy?

"I am thinking about buying a Rover 400. Is there a particularly good model or year? Is there a scheme or way of checking that a car is in reasonable condition before buying."
Which model you go for will depend on what's available and how you're planning to use it so decide on an engine based on your needs. The most important checks are the head gasket (look for a low coolant level or a creamy ‘mayonnaise’ substance on the dipstick) and rust on the front floors and rear of the sills. Lots of expert advice here: (Rover 200 and 400 owners' club).
Answered by Keith Moody

What does SLi mean as in Rover 416 SLi?

"What does SLi mean as in Rover 416 SLi?"
It was a series of letters in a trim level. At the time, Rover used: i, Si, SE, SLi, GSi, iE, iS, iL, XL, Executive, D, SD, SDi, SLDi, GSDi.
Answered by Keith Moody

Does the Rover 45 have a Japanese engine?

"I've read that the engines in the Rover 45 vary in quality and that the Japanese engines were best? How can you tell? My parent's car is playing up and we're thinking of replacing the engine."
Only the Rover 400 got the Japanese 1.6 engine. Do you know much more about the fault that's causing the problems? Any engine swap is a fairly extreme course of action and will likely cost you more than the value of the car unless you plan to do all the work yourself.
Answered by Keith Moody
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