With the Rover SD1 still in production and popular, it's replacement had already been abandoned due to costs and a number of proposed ideas put forward in its place. These again would be abandoned in favour of another Honda/Rover joint venture, after all the Triumph Acclaim was a success and the Rover 200 SD3 was looking to repeat that, so why not replace the SD1 with another joint venture?
While there were some issues in the cars development and compromises made as a result, the finished car had some teething problems and a bit of an image problem in the cost conscious fleet market. Over time though,t he car did pick up sales and was quite reliable as an every day work car. Unlike the SD1 though, there was no hatchback available, which many people had became accustomed to, one was in development though and did launch a while after the range's initial introduction.
The fastback, as it was known, was well received and sales soon started to pick up, however Honda were preparing to update the Legend model that the 800 was based on and it was assumed within Rover that the 800 would also receive the new technology and a redevelopment.
British Aerospace balked at the cost and refused to authorise the development of a new car, they did though release funds to so a face-lift of the range, known as the R18.
The R18 face-lift model was more like the SD1 in terms of shape, more rounded and with more presence on the road than the previous generation, however it was still the old 800 underneith and had all the compromises of the old car. Worse than that, the rest of the market was moving forward while the 800 technology wise, stood still. What also emphasised this was the door panels and interior (Although good) were the same as the previous generation.
The range was left to push on while its successor was developed but the world was changing and the restrictions that held the 800 back would not be there for its successor as BMW took control and Honda left the Rover scene.