Rover 2000 Automatic

The Rover 2000 with automatic transmission is a car in which substantial sacrifices in both performance and economy have been made to bring as many of the outstanding qualities of the 2000 as possible to those who regard an automatic transmission as a first essential. The blend of Rover and Borg Warner has been well engineered and the behaviour of the Model 35 transmission, either when left to itself in D or over-ridden by the kickdown or manual controls, is above reproach; but inevitably it affects the whole character of the car.

The 2000 automatic is not everyone´s choice and is not intended to be because it is one of three versions of the Rover 2000: the normal single-carburetter form, now known as 2000 SC; the high-performance TC version; and this new automatic edition which is intended to extend the market in the opposite direction.

The tabulated data show the figures recorded for the automatic model against those logged for the normal 2000. Conditions were good for the test of the manual transmission car, whereas a low barometer and a wet surface combined to show the automatic in a sligltly less favourable light. As on the normal 2000 and the 2000 TC, suspension, handling, finish and amenities are of a very high order. The automatic transmission is controlled by a neat central quadrant in which (reading from front to rear) the markings are P R N D2 D1 L - Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive 2, Drive1 and Lock-up. D1 causes the car to start in first gear and thereafter change up into intermediate and top, subsequently changing down into either of the lower gears as appropriate. D2 confines the operation to intermediate and top and, in effect, turns the car into a two-speed automatic.

The idea of the D2 range is to cut out unnecessary changes and thereby give more effortless progress as well as avoiding a sudden increase of torque at the wheels if the accelerator is kicked down in very slippery conditions. In fact, it is doubtful if it really succeeds because a start in intermediate involves prolonged operation of the torque converter with the engine revs held steady, a condition which many drivers find more tiresome than a rising engine note. Elimination of bottom gear also makes the car slow off the mark in a way which can be disconcerting when entering a busy road with little time to spare - especially as the near-constant engine note makes it more difficult to judge speed.

Differences in acceleration between D1 and D2 can be gathered from the following comparisons in which the D1 times are shown in brackets: 0-30 mph 8.9 s. (6.9 s.); 0-40 mph 13.3 s. (9.9 s.); 0-50 mph 18.2 s. (14.9 s.).

In normal operation, the automatic changes are so smooth as to be almost imperceptible apart from engine noise. With the foot hard down, upward changes are made into intermediate at approximately 40 mph and into top at 65. At the other end of the scale, the lower ratios are engaged at maximum revs with, of course, changes at varying speeds between these extremes according to throttle position.

Kickdown changes occur into first gear (in D1 only) if the throttle is fully depressed at any speed up to about 30 mph and into intermediate at any speed up to 60 mph. On first acquaintance, the extra pressure required for kickdown is almost too light and unwanted changes are apt to occur, but we soon became used to the delicate touch required.

Alternatively, you can change down manually by pulling the central selector lever back into the lock-up position after depressing the safety catch (which also protects Reverse and Park); intermediate can be engaged with absolute sweetness at any speed up to 70 mph which is the recommended maximum for a manual down change.

In all these respects the Borg Warner transmission and its application to the Rover 2000 are above reproach and comparable with the best. What makes the system less satisfactory is the fact that the characteristics of the 2000 engine are not ideally suited to this sort of transmission, which makes a better match with an engine developing its best torque at comparatively low revs. The fact, too, that only three ratios are provided instead of the four of the manual transmission means that the car is more fussy when intermediate has to be used instead of third for overtaking. In top, the cars are equally geared,

To sum up, the fitting of automatic transmission has undoubtedly brought many of the notable characteristics of the Rover 2000 within the scope of those who, because they will not have a manual change, would not enjoy them otherwise, but it would be idle to pretend that nothing had been lost in the process.

0-60 mph 20.8 s.

top speed 95.9 mph

overall fuel consumption 21.1 mpg


Motor / UK January 1967