BRM is back, but not with the kind of car those initials probably bring to mind if you remember motor racing in the 1960s. Instead, Rover has applied the famous name to a limited edition version of the 200vi hot hatchback, which carries styling touches designed to bring back memories of BRM's heyday.
External touches are simple, but effectively distance the 200BRM from its lesser brethren. The wide air intake in the nose is picked out in BRM's trademark orange, and there are new 16in wheels and silver mirrors. There's a BRM badge on the back and neat enamel BRM crests on the front wings - and that's about it.
It's inside that the limited edition touches are most obvious. You need to be a fan of red, because the seats are swathed in cherry red leather with a diamond quilted stitched redolent of a quilted-vinyl 1960s race car interior. Further retro touches include an engine-turned aluminium insert on the dash and aluminium heater control knobs, plus an aluminium gearknob.
Performance and Economy
The 1.8-litre K-series engine remains in 200vi specification, which means there's 145bhp on tap (apparently a 180bhp version was considered, but rejected). But unlike the 200vi, the BRM gains a close-ratio gearbox and puts its power down through a Torsen differential - which improves traction during fast getaways but has some odd effects on the handling (see below).
The close-ratio gearbox helps make the best use of the engine which, perhaps because of its VVC variable valve timing, needs to be revved hard to deliver its full potential. But it takes time to get used to the closely-stacked ratios.
Ride and handling
Suspension tweaks tauten the ride and sharpen the handling compared to lesser Rover 200s. The effect of the Torsen diff is very noticeable: it helps to kill understeer under power but it also reduces self-centering so you have to get used to steering the BRM positively out of corners, rather than waiting for the steering lock to unwind naturally. It's fine once you get used to it.
At nearly £18,000 the BRM costs about the same as a VW Golf GTI, and given the Golf's far better build quality and residual values it's hard to justify going for the Rover instead - unless the 200BRM's retro style really appeals.
Just 750 Rover 200BRMs will be built. Though the high price looks hard to justify, at least you get that limited-edition cachet.