Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
An Integrated Range
The Montego, Austin
Rover's long-promised four door front-drive notchback, was released in the UK in late April in a range of models. While the 2.0-litre MG and VP (Vanden Plas) versions were widely regarded as being very disappointing, the 1.6-litre bread-and-butter models - better "Ford Cortina
replacements" than anything Ford Europe had by then produced - were much more likeable.
The Montego was designed as part of an integrated range of Austin medium sector vehicles. Despite big differences in size (more than 60mm in wheelbase and 417mm in overall length) 60 percent of Montego's panels, including doors, were common to the Maestro
- Austin's mid-size hatchback released a year earlier than the Montego. The floor pan was the same, but there was an extended underframe and significantly different skin panels so the Montego looked like an entirely different car.
The four/five seater Montegos were well finished, comfortable and economical. They had all the Japanese-type goodies, like improved "talking" dashboards with a multitude of warning devices and digital readouts. There were big boot areas and the rear squab could be folded flat. The bodies had flush fitting windows and, though a bit of road noise entered the cabin, they are relatively quiet runners.
Transmissions by Volkswagen
The east-west 1.6-litre four-cylinder S-series engine used in the Montego was a brand new belt-driven single OHC unit. It produced 64kW of power at 5600rpm and l32Nm of torque at 3500rpm. It came with either a three-speed automatic, four speed manual or five-speed manual - all built by Volkswagen.
The use of engine management electronics allowed such advances as a "positive temperature co-efficient" unit which warmed fuel automatically on cold starts; programmed ignition which allowed for advance and retarding during various stages of warm-up and which never needed adjustment; and a "knock" sensor allowing the use of a lean burn mixture.
MG and Vanden Plas Versions
and Vanden Plas
versions of the Montego were both powered by uprated version of the 2.0-litre "O" Series four-cylinder single OHC engine which once powered the Ambassador - but by the time the Montego was released the Ambassador was in serious decline. Both the MG
and Vanden Plas
versions used a Honda five-speed gearboxes. The difference between the 2.0-litre cars was that while both had electronic management systems, the MG
also had electronic injection, helping to boost output to 87kW, and a close ratio Honda gearbox. The somewhat lethargic torque characteristics of the Vanden Plas
combined with standard Honda gearing made for lots of stirring of the gears.
The Montego's suspension
was the same as the Maestro's with higher spring
rates to cope with slightly higher weights and loadings. It was fully independent, with wishbones, coil springs
and anti-roll bar
at the front and trailing arms with coil springs at the rear. Brakes
were discs at the front and drums at the rear. Wheelbase for the Montego was 2565mm, overall length is 4467mm and it ranged in weight from 965kg for the 1.6-litre versions to 1050kg for the Vanden Plas
Top speed for the 1.6-litre versions is claimed to be 165 km/h and 0-100 km/h was claimed to take 11 seconds. Top speed for the Vanden Plas was a claimed 175 km/h and for the hot MG a claimed 185 km/h. Austin
hoped that the Montego, given a fair share of breaks, could be the car to put Austin Rover back in contention in the European - and world - markets. It didnít.