22 September 1995

POP GOES THE DIESEL WITH ROVER

DIESELS now account for 25% of car sales, so Rover needed a decent oil-burner in its 600 range to complement its petrol models. With the British-built L-series engine, the Midlands-based firm has achieved just that.

Direct injection, packed with electronics to refine performance, the 620SDis 2-litre motor produces impressive figures for both power, acceleration and top speed. At 105bhp and 155lb ft torque, 10.8sec to 60mph, a similar figure for the important 30-70mph overtaking surge and topping out at 115mph, it certainly packs a clout.

No less so behind the wheel, with an even spread of power and little sign of turbo-lag. Pity it sounds a bit "taxi" on start-up and dawdling around – more strategically placed insulation could help here – but cruising and at higher speeds it could easily be the sound of a petrol-fuelled car.

Economy claims are equally impressive; its official urban thirst is 48.4mpg. My average around the 40mpg is probably more realistic and still impressive for a car of this size, particularly given the sporty performance possible if you play the gears and keep that turbo on song. No need to be an also-ran in this diesel.

Compared to some of its diesel opposition, the SDi doesnt come cheap. But, all in all, Rover can count this engine and its blend with the 600-series as another feather in its cap.