Supermini on steroids or shrunken small family hatchback? Try this lively, enjoyable car before you buy to make your own decision. Just don't expect practicality to rival Focus or 306.
- Sporty, good-looking mini-Rover
- Feels like a quality car
- Lively engines with handling to match
- Not much space in the back
- A bit noisy at full stretch
- 211 is woefully underpowered
Unlike the previous 200 and the late Nineties 400/45, this is a real Rover with no Honda bits lurking under the subtly styled bodywork. It evolved into the 25, then the entertaining MG ZR - proof enough that it has enduring appeal.
The 200's main attraction is its 'hot hatch' potential combined with Rover's above-average build quality and finish. What the car lacks in size, it makes up for with driving pleasure and an all-round feel-good factor. The 16-valve K-Series engines are very responsive (the 1.8 was good enough for the MGF and Lotus Elise, after all). Roadholding is tenacious, steering is sharp, and the 200 can be driven spiritedly with confidence. And the ride is refined, even if the engines aren't.
Factor in generous equipment on all but basic models, 12,000-mile service intervals, average reliability and 40mpg economy from most models, and the 200 is certainly worth a look.
Need To Know
NCAP: not tested (later Rover 25 = 3 stars)
Best Models: 216 GSi; 218iS; 200vi
Worst Models: 211; basic spec 214i 8v
Replacement: by Rover 25 in Oct 1999
Quality & Reliability
Value for Money