You are here
Clarkson on: the Rover 75
Last month, the road test team on Top Gear magazine produced an advert-free supplement which listed the best and
worst cars you can buy.
Now the guys that wrote the supplement may
spend all day talking about motorcycles but they do drive every single new car
that comes on to the market. They take them home at night. They take them away
for cosy weekends. They take them to test tracks. In other words, these guys
know what they’re talking about.
Strange then that I read the supplement with
a purple face and little bits of spittle at the corners of my mouth - a mouth
that was gaping in disbelief.
It wasn’t so bad to start with. They said
Peugeot’s 206 is the best small car, which is fair enough. Second slot was
given to the Clio which shows that even motorcyclists have some common sense.
The Clio may not be as much fun to drive as a Fiesta, but it is cheap.
I had no real argument with the family car
section either where they gave awards to the Focus and the Passat. And sure, I
can see why the Jaguar XJ8 had to play second fiddle to the BMW 5-Series in the
executive car round-up.
But then we came to the off-roaders section
of the supplement and everything went completely banana-shaped. The Mercedes
M-Class is built, badly, in America by Americans. It is too cramped, far too
expensive, a bit ugly and apparently not even much cop off-road but, even so,
the Top Gear magazine road testers put it on the top step of their
This does appear odd, because the Toyota
Landcruiser is the best off-roader in the world unless you live in Britain, in
which case snobbery makes the Range Rover a better bet. And not the 4.6 HSE
recommended by our team but the smoother and more economical four-litre
Fuming, I turned the page to see that in the
people carrier section, the Chrysler Voyager was praised for the power of its
diesel engine. Hello. Hello. Have you actually driven one? It is absolutely
And - oh my God - there’s more. According to
our boys, the Fiat Coupe is better than the Alfa GTV, which is just plain
wrong, and the Mercedes- Benz CLK is better than the Nissan 200SX. Sure, in the
same way that treading on a rusty nail is better than having sex with the
entire sixth form of a girls’ school.
“Following our less-than-enthusiastic road test report last month, the suits in the Longbridge division of Munich Central are apoplectic with rage”
But they saved their most magnificent piece
of wrongness for the supercar section. What on earth is the Aston Martin
Vantage doing in eleventh place, when the Lamborghini Diablo came in third?
Given a choice, these guys would rather take a drug dealer’s car than the
Starship Blenheim Palace. Obviously.
Now I’m sure you read the supplement too and
I’m sure you had a hernia from the stress it caused. Plus, I’m equally sure,
you’ve read my views in this column and now you have full-on post-traumatic
This is what makes the automotive world go
around. One man’s poison really is another man’s fruit of the forest. We may
tell you that the Focus is by far the best family car that money can buy but
you may think it looks like the dinner of a dog. So you’ll buy a Bravo instead.
Or an Almera. And that’s fine. Well sort of.
So now we arrive at the new Rover 75. I
understand that following our less-than-enthusiastic road test report last
month, the suits in the Longbridge division of Munich Central are apoplectic
Because we didn’t like it the Midlands will
have to be closed down. Three hundred million people will be thrown out of work
and as the money runs out, local businesses will close too.
Children will be forced to spend their
formative years up inside chimneys and their parents will wander aimlessly over
rubbish tips searching for bread and guano. But look. If I don’t agree with our
road testers on their choice of cars of the year, and you don’t agree with
either them or me, why should anyone agree with either of us on the 75.
I might tell you that Butch Cassidy and
the Sundance Kid is the best film ever made and you may say Betty Blue is better. And no matter how much we argue about it, we’ll never, ever agree.
And so it goes with the 75. We looked at the
overall package and decided that while it offered submarine quietness and
ocean-going luxury on the motorway, it fared less well as a driver’s tool. And
while we said it was good value, we didn’t like the noisy wipers or the dash.
But what if you spend all day on the
motorway, and you’re on a shoestring? You’re going to scoff at our findings and
There are only three objective reasons for
not buying a particular car: it is unsafe; it is absurdly expensive; it is a
Bearing this in mind, there’s no reason at
all why you shouldn’t rush out to buy the Rover 75.
And I hope you do.