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Future models - Rover - 75

First look: Return of the Rover V8

Styling direction: There are hints of Audi’s new corporate face in the Rover 75 V8.

MG Rover’s 75 now grins with Ford V8 grunt

17 Mar 2004

MG ROVER has released a rear-wheel drive and V8-engined version of its Rover 75 sedan at the Geneva motor show.

Currently only available in that combination, the 'Rover V8' (as it is known in the UK) is expected to debut in Australia at the Sydney motor show in October.

Pricing details are subject to finalisation by local MG Rover importer Motor Group Australia, but the 191kW 75 V8 will slot in below the $100,000 mark.

Meanwhile, its mechanically identical MG ZT 260 V8 cousin (launched in Europe last year) will arrive here along with the facelifted front-wheel drive 75 and ZT range in July or August at around $90,000.

It will be joined by the front-wheel drive 164kW ZT 220S, featuring a locally developed supercharged version of the 2.5-litre KV6 engine.

And come early 2005, a BMW M5-rivalling, supercharged, rear-wheel drive MG X-Power ZT 385 V8, producing 287kW of power, will top the ZT range.

The Rover 75 V8 reveals a far more aggressive nose compared to the regular 75’s smoother, softer snout make-over.

The slightly protruding proboscis and full-length radiator grille are in the mould of Audi’s new frontal design direction first found on the A8 W12 and latterly the next generation A6.

This is ironic considering the 1998 vintage 75’s BMW E39 5 Series heritage, a legacy of the English marque’s six years (1994-2000) under the stewardship of the German car company.

Initially, only the top line 75 (in luxury Connoisseur SE-like guise) will be available with the V8 drivetrain.

Power comes courtesy of a US Ford-derived 4.6-litre V8.

68 center image As in the MG, the 90-degree unit in the Rover develops 191kW (260 Ps) of power and 410Nm of torque, helping the 75 to top 150km/h.

Likewise, the Rover V8 eschews its BMW-sourced Z-axle multi-link rear suspension for another multi-link set-up designed by MG Rover, while a traction control system keeps all that torque in check.

However the Rover’s occupants should expect a cushier ride than what the ZT 260 provides, thanks to suspension that is in a softer state of tune.

This year marks the centenary of the Rover nameplate. MG Rover is keen to make the most of its V8 heritage, despite only producing them for 19 years from 1967, with the release of the 3.5-litre Buick V8-powered P5B.

The all-alloy unit continued in the popular Rover P6 variants and culminated in the last of the futuristic SD1 3500 hatchback models.

That’s when the then-British Aerospace owned Austin Rover Group switched to the Honda Legend-twinned front-wheel drive, four-cylinder and V6-engined 800 series.

But the old Buick/Rover V8 still lives on much-revised in 4.0-litre format in the current (Ford-owned) Land Rover Discovery series.

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