Rover Serie 600


It has to make do with just one body shape

1993 - 1998

Developed together with Honda, dressed in elegant bodywork and very handsome even in the dark: ROVER Series 600.


New Series without predecessor.


The '600' series continues under BMW .
'600' under BMW.

The fifth joint development between Honda and ROVER should replace the upscale Austin Montego models and open up new markets for ROVER. They wanted to produce a rival for the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz 190. This market segment grew very quickly and ROVER wanted to seize its opportunities.

First considerations to replace the Montego already existed at Graham Day's time. At that time a Montego with new body and the M16 engine of the ROVER 800 was planned. The AR9 project was a purely British development that formally corresponds to the successful ROVER 800 Mark I. Roy Axe's studios were working on a new version when plans for working with Honda became more concrete. The project therefore died very quickly and painlessly in 1988.

Graham Day knew that ROVER could not finance the development of a mid-range car on its own. He contacted Honda to close the gaps in his own portfolio. For Honda was a prerequisite that any development in the Accord - class of Honda must be controlled, as it was one of the main products for the US market and sold very well.

The negotiations ended with ROVER building a slightly revised version of Accord; a phased plan was developed and the project was decided in June 1989.
ROVER would have access to the plans for the Accord of model year 1993, but should not be included in the technical development of the car. Also Honda set strict rules to what extent ROVER could change the appearance of the car. Internally the projects ran under SK1 (Honda versions) and SK2 (ROVER versions). The ROVER versions should not be sold in the USA.

Although the basic structure of the Honda Accord had to remain untouched, ROVER succeeded in putting a completely new car on its wheels. Unlike the school of "folded paper" design represented by Roy Axe, the new car was to be much more contemporary.
In 1989, Gordon Sked was head of the design department at ROVER. Richard Woolley designed both the second edition of the ROVER 800 ("R17") and the new 600. The newly designed grill resumed the forms of the P5 - grill with the strong central strut, of course to the flatter front adapted and integrated. This "regression" was initiated by Roy Axe as an answer to the ever more similarly becoming competition vehicles.

From Accord externally unchanged only the front doors, the lower sheet metal parts of the rear doors, the windscreen and the roof were taken over.
In 1990 Richard Woolley's plans were so far advanced that a 1:1 sound model could be produced, which was presented to the management for examination. After approval, the model was shown to selected customers. The form was praised as classic and restrained. This reinforced ROVER in the assumption that the car would fill the gap between the 800 and the more powerful motorized versions of 400 would fill exactly.

Further development then took place at Honda. Their European version of Accord should be available in 2.0 and 2.3 liters. Honda developed the interior, whereby the designs of the ROVER - engineers were largely taken over.
Of course, ROVER had their own ideas about the colour design of the interior. Light wood and warm caramel-coloured plastic parts were used, while Honda remained with traditional grey. The two companies had cultivated this difference since the days of the first cooperation - the Triumph Acclaim.

The marketing of 600 posed some difficulties for ROVER. It should close the gap between 800 and 400, but also replace the Austin Montego models. The target group of 600 was completely different from Montego. Very quickly it was decided to offer the Montego initially in parallel.
Preferred customers who were introduced to the ROVER 600 praised the car to the skies. This caused ROVER not to be squeamish with the prices either. While the Montego was a rival of the Ford Sierra in price, the 600 focused more on the 3-series of BMW.

As with all other jointly developed models before, Honda was launched first: in late 1992 the new Accord was announced. Since the specialized journalists knew that also a new ROVER would appear, they were concerned by the somewhat cumbersome design of the Honda. They didn't know that the ROVER a different sheet metal dress would wear.
The ROVER 600 was introduced in April 1993. He reached the market in a difficult time: Ford had replaced his Sierra with the competent Mondeo and the 3 series from BMW renewed in 1990 was still up to date. Not an easy entry!

But the problems for the 600 were not in competition - but with the new owner of ROVER. When the takeover came through BMW, the T16 turbo engine, which powered the 420 Sport and the 820 Vitesse, was being integrated into the 600. The other versions should still be based on the Honda - motors - but Honda cancelled the license because of the adoption by BMW. So ROVER had to buy the motors at expensive prices, which drove up the production costs enormously.
BMW decided to replace the 800 and 600 series immediately, any further marketing efforts for the two models were discontinued.
The 600 was now equipped with British engines, first with the turbo diesel of the L series. This sold well in Italy and France, where the 600 was quite popular.
Right after the diesel version the 620 ti appeared. With a maximum of 197 bhp at 6,000 rpm he was a wolf in sheep's clothing, since ROVER did not make any external changes to the car. But the fast car was romping in the fields, which the new owner also worked on. The marketing for this powerful car was tacitly stopped.

Production Figures of the ROVER 600 Series (Plant Cowley)

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