Connoisseur is one of those funny words that turned from something you’d be happy to be called into something most of us would be embarrassed to call ourselves. The Cambridge dictionary defines a connoisseur as “a person who knows a lot about and enjoys one of the arts, or food, drink, etc. and can judge quality and skill in that subject”. As an example, they give “a connoisseur of ballet/cigars”, but surely Titania would never spark up a panatella just before a big pas de deux? Sounds risky, H&S wise.
Be that as it may, Connoisseur is a good word when it’s applied to a Rover 75. Before you flex your fingers for a fiery keyboard assault, yes, we know we had one of these 75 Connoisseurs not so long ago, last October to be precise, but rather than positively discriminating against the best car in the weekly shortlist Shed chooses to celebrate the continuing availability of good examples. They’re his balls and he’ll play with them how he likes.
That’s not the only justification either. Last year’s 75 was a 2004 129hp 2.0 diesel with 130,000 miles. This is a 2003 174hp 2.5 V6 petrol with a lower mileage of 125,000, strong MOT status and an apparently unconcerning physical condition. Last year’s diesel started off at over £2k and then quickly sold when the price was reduced to £1,495. Today’s petrol Connie starts off at £999.
Admittedly, last year’s 75 was a Connoisseur SE, whereas this one isn’t. What’s the difference? From around late 2001, a straight Connoisseur should have full leather, electric and heated front seats and climate control. To that, the Connoisseur SE saloon added driver’s seat memory function, parking sensors, cruise control on all bar the 1.8s, trip computer, an electric rear blind and rain sensitive wipers. You can’t be hard and fast on that though because new owners could (and did) buy Connoisseurs, only to then add some or all of the SE bits. You’ll note that our non-SE has parking sensors, f’rinstance.
From the YT video of today’s shed (which as promised in the ad, you can view simply by entering the reg number) we can glean that the trader has had it for three months. Maybe it’s just been given the old price chop to unstick it from the inventory. Whatever, under a grand for one of these 2.5 Connies in decent nick is a deal worthy of investigation. The comfort is exceptional, and the motor is creamy smooth. Spec is king these days, so even a Connoisseur-level 75 might look a bit sparse sitting next to a 2021 range-topping compact exec, but in isolation this Rover will provide all the good old-fashioned luxury you might reasonably want, along with the ‘negative benefit’ of less electrical stuff to go wrong.
Obviously, other things will go wrong: it’s an 18-year-old car after all. Sill trims can fall off and the 75 can develop a sponge-like ability to absorb unwanted water through practically every orifice, especially into the aptly-named front footwells, courtesy of blocked drains. Posters on last year’s 2.0 diesel SOTW forum reckoned that the ‘Mk 2’ facelift 75s weren’t as good as the earlier cars, with dashes made of WoodTM rather than the real wood that the very earliest cars had. Our car makes up for this by being painted in retro chic Gold. There seems to be a small depression on the nearside rear door, but if you’re like Shed you won’t let a small depression ruin your life.
Before taking the plunge on any KV6, you might want to check on the condition of its cambelts. Three belts are involved in the scheduled 90,000-mile change and two of them are tightly located on the back of each cylinder bank, making the job long and therefore less cheap. VIS, which was Rover’s V-TEC equivalent, fails when the motor driving the VIS valves burns out, which it does when it gets clagged up with stray breather oil. Generally speaking, though, the KV6 is a reliable unit. When it’s running well with the 5-speed auto it will shove the car through the 0-60 in nine and a bit seconds and return an official combined mpg figure of around 26mpg. Perhaps.
Front coil springs often break on 75s, but according to the MOT history our shed has had a useful quantity of suspension consumables grafted on in the last couple of years. The last test in November merely suggested that it might benefit from a couple of brake bits and some defogging toothpaste rubbed on the headlamp lenses.
Does that trick actually work, by the way? It didn’t when Shed tried it with Mrs Shed’s last blob of industrial strength denture fixative. Still, the garbled speech that came out of her maw until she got round to replenishing her supplies did at least give him a temporary excuse for not carrying out her orders, which must be obeyed.