The original 400 Series, launched as a four-door saloon in early 1990, was simply a saloon version of the second-generation Rover 200 Series hatchback, both sharing the codename R8 during development. Like the 200, the model was designed in collaboration with Honda (who produced the corresponding designed-for-Europe Concerto model) and both models would share production lines at Rover’s Longbridge facility.
It used the same core structure and mechanicals as the Honda, but the rear-end redesign
of the glasshouse and body were unique to Rover. Interior trim and electrical architecture were all shared with the “R8” Rover 200.
An estate version was subsequently developed by Rover Special Products. Badged as the ‘Rover 400 Tourer’, this remained in production alongside the second generation 400 until 1998, as no estate version of the later car was built. The Tourer was the company’s first ever Estate car, and attempted to capitalise on the 1990’s trend of giving regular saloon cars rear hatches, such as contemporary BMWs, Mercedes and Fords. Even Jeremy Clarkson was impressed with the 400 Tourer when he reviewed it on Top Gear in 1994.
However, rust, poor reliability and hopeless depreciation meant that most Tourers were sold or scrapped by the mid-2000’s, with the more common sight these days being the regular saloon version. Apparently the estate versions of this car are some of the rarest on UK roads as competition from Mondeo’s and Volvo’s saw them off.