Although we never got to see the larger Quint versions of the Honda Civic, the Rover Quintet was a straight Japanese Honda with Rover badges stuck on it for the Aussie market.
In fact, JRA did quite well in its negotiations with Honda
to ensure there was an impressive specification for the Quintet. Then, capitalising on its "exclusive" distribution rights for the five door hatchback, made the most of the extra dimensions offered by the four-door format of an already popular car.
The Quintet was quite a spirited performer, out accelerating the Holden Camira
and 1.5 liter Alfasud
, and best of all if you cranked up the air-con it only took a little of the edge off the performance.
Quality components were used throughout, typical of the Honda quality at the time. A Pioneer stereo cassette/radio was standard, as was timber trim, although the latter was pretty obviously only a veneer. The seats were well shaped and finished in a Moquette cloth trim, they complementing the wonderfully supple ride of the larger Civic.
The engine was extremely quiet, and for the vast majority of city and country driving around Australia the Quintet was a thoroughly competent car. The power steering was well weighted, the five speed manual transmission was a relatively short throw affair with good feel, and the car cornered with typical Japanese front drive compliance.
The optional semi-automatic three speed box was also a good choice for the driver that racked up most kilometres in the city. Smooth and efficient, it managed to not dull the driving experience too much. The Honda Quint was replaced by the Integra in 1985, the company assuming the task of selling their own 5 door.
Many may well ask why Honda did not sell the Quint as their own. The reason was the cross-holding structure that had been created between Honda and Rover back in 1979
. In exchange for a 20% stake in Honda's UK operation, Rover gave Honda a 20% stake in their entire operation. The idea was that Honda could use the UK operation as a launchpad to the lucrative European markets, while Rover could benefit from the large sums being spent by Honda on development of new models.
The relationship lasted until 1988, when British Aerospace acquired the marque, although it would change hands again in 1994 when BMW took over the operation.