European Vacation Outtake: 1993 Rover 220 GSi – Rare Hot Hover

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As I mentioned in another post, stopping to shoot a CC in Europe can be a bit challenging, especially in the cities. But I spotted this rather unusual Rover hatchback, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Ford/Merkur XR4Ti in profile, on the outskirts of a little town. I barely recognized it as I drove by, as these Hovers (Honda-Rover mashups) are not my forte. Which was the main reason I stopped for; it’s not like I’m going to see one again soon, if ever.

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The low hood line and cowl give away the the Rover 200’s origins, which was the 4th generation Honda Civic (EC). It was the third generation of Honda-Civic based cars, starting with the Triumph Acclaim. The second generation (SD3) was called Rover 200, and was essentially a badge-engineered version of the Hinda Ballade, a variant of the gen3 Civic. Aspects of its design were collaborated by both company.

This generation (R8) appeared in 1989, as a three and five door hatchback. Perhaps oddly, it was sold alongside Maestro. The sedan version, intended to be a bit more upscale in ambitions, was called the Rover 400.

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The badging of the sporty versions (220) reflects the use of Rover’s T-Series 16 valve 2.0 L four instead of the Honda 1.6 in the lesser 200 models. It made a pretty ambitious 136 PS (134 hp), but there was also a Turbo version, which made 200 PS (197 hp), and was perhaps the first small hot hatch with 200 hp.

Rover 200 coupe

There was also a coupe version that appeared in 1992, the Rover 200 Coupe (tagged 216 or 220, depending on the engine). Although still based on the fourth-generation Civic, its coupe roof looks somewhat similar to the 5th gen. Civic coupe that also appeared in 1992. But that Civic coupe was not sold in the UK/Europe; just the hatchbacks.

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It wouldn’t be hard to misidentify this as a Civic interior, but there are differences too. The UK Integra, if you like.

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In fact, that’s what this car is somewhat analogous to, except that its roof is taller, and has that Rover engine instead of the Acura’s little high-winding V-TEC 1.6.


Related reading:

1981 Triumph Acclaim  by Roger Carr