Rover 2000 TC

It seems incredible to record that, since the Rover 2000 TC was announced in March 1966, we have not subjected an example to a full autotest until now. A supplementary test appeared in March 1967, but it was a brief three-page affair lacking the depth and scope of our regular main tests. With the revisions to the whole of the 2000 and 3500 range in October last year, a suitable opportunity to make good the deficit presented itself.

When the Rover 2000 appeared on the motoring scene in 1963, it represented a major breakthrough in engineering policy for a company steeped in tradition and the established way of doing things. Here was a very modern car, as good or better than anything else around that time in the class and the match for any more revered Continental model.

It was an instant success and it was quite a time before production caught up with the demand. When the 2000 was launched in the USA, it was thought to be lacking in performance, so a new twin carburettor cylinder head was designed to boost the power output from 90 bhp (net) at 5.000 rpm to 114 at 5.500. The engine has a single chain-driven overhead camshaft and features bowl-in-piston combustion chambers. A major difference between the TC and single carburettor engine is that the former needs 100-octane fuel in place of the latter“s 97-octane premium.

Judging the performance of the original single-carburettor 2000 now, nearly eight years after, it is something of a sluggard. Acceleration from rest to 60 mph, for example, takes 15.1 sec and the standing quarter-mile time is 19.9 sec. The TC on the other hand reach 60 mph in 12.2 sec and covers the quarter-mile in only 18.5 sec.

Even so, in absolute terms of comparison, the TC is not quick. The same kind of acceleration, through the gears in the lower speed ranges, is possible in a Ford Escort GT or a Hillman Avenger GT, both with much smaller engines than that of the Rover. On top speed the TC lapped MIRA at 105 mph with a best leg at 108 mph. There is no doubt that those really wanting a Rover with performance should go for the 3500 V8, which has a top speed of 112 mph, accelerates from rest to 60 mph in 10.8 sec and covers the standing quarter-mile in 17.9 sec, all with automatic transmission.

In terms of capital outlay the TC costs £109 more than the SC (and the 3500 costs £233 more than the TC). As well as better acceleration with the TC you now get better instruments and controls, but the rest of the mechanical specification is the same for both versions. In its turn, the 3500 is much the same as the TC, except for the all-important engine and transmission plus the latest and most welcome option of power steering.

As the middle car in this Rover family of models, the TC is good value for what it offers. It feels a well-built, solid car with a high quality of ride most of the time; it is stable and surefooted when driven rationally, and it cruises quietly and effortlessly in its high top gear (19.1 mph per 1.000 rpm).

Ride and handling

In 1963 we dealt out a fair measure of praise for the ride comfort of the original 2000, by the standards of that day. It is still very good, but rather too susceptible to bump thump. At high speed there is quite a lot of tyre hum and again we noticed the odd suspension shimmy, the exact cause of which we have never been able to establish for sure.

One of the nicest things about the Rover is its good steering response and, driven at all normal speeds, it displays a mild and consistent degree of understeer. As one corners faster there is more roll and a great deal more understeer. Ultimately, the front end breaks away, sometimes quite suddenly. Steering effort is moderate, but only by virtue of a large (17in dia.) steering wheel and a ratio requiring nearly four turns between quite compact 33ft turning circles.

Transmission and brakes

Despite a reduction in the clutch effort required, from 45 to 34 lb, it is still a heavy control and a lot of traffic driving soon tires the driver“s left leg. The pedal angle requires you to sit up more over them than usual, so you must push down rather than against the seatback. Although there is a total of almost 5in. clutch movement, much less than this is the operating range and the take up is quite abrupt. There is no real margin of spare capacity in the gripping power of the clutch and the slip involved in a restart on the 1-in-3 test hill causes a fair amount of fade. Similarly it was not possible to make use of all the available traction during performance measurements, full-power getaways again causing clutch fade. With more bite to the clutch, the acceleration times would undoubtedly have been better.

The gearchange on this test car was much better than on any previous Rover, but still too notchy. The ultra-short lever requires quite a firm hand, especially if one is working the unbeatable synchromesh hard. Ratios are high, nicely spaced and free from whine. One feels the Rover is a heavy car for its size (26.3cwt at the kerb unladen) and it is essential always to be in the right gear for the speed. Away from town it is fine to be able to zoom up to nearly 60 mph in second and well over 80 mph in third. Slightly lower gearing would help the acceleration and give more flexibility, but an overdrive or five-speed box would then be needed to retain the easy cruising characteristics.

Rover were one of the first people to fit disc brakes all round and the Girling installation on the TC (inboard at the rear) behaved faultlessly. Only 70 lb effort is needed to record over 1g on the MIRA high-mu surfaces and for all normal check braking no more than 30 lb is required. After the disc temperatures had stabilized there was no fade at all during 10 stops from 70 mph at 0.5g. The initial brake reaction to pedal effort feels dead, but the efficiency quickly builds up. With 40 lb on the pedal, for example, only 0.4g was measured at the beginning of the stop, rising to 0.63g ultimately. We noticed a rumbling from the brakes at medium efforts in the 70 to 30 mph bracket.

The handbrake held easily on the 1-in-3 hill and recorded 0.36g on its own from 30 mph.

Fuel consumption

One of the strongest points in favour of both the 2000 SC and TC is the remarkable fuel economy. The SC managed 24 mpg in our 1963 test and 23 mpg in our more recent double test (against the Triumph 2000). The 1967 TC recorded an even more impressive 25.1 mpg and this latest car returned 22.4 mpg overall. At a steady 70 mph the consumption is only 27 mpg, dropping to 18.4 mpg at 90 mph. Most owners in this country should get 25 mpg with no special effort.

There is a red warning label on the back window by the fuel filler which specifies 100-octane fuel only. Anything less than this causes bad running-on; even worse, there may also be inaudible pre-ignition at part throttle. When touring abroad in countries where no 100-octane fuel is available, it is possible to retard the ignition by 1.5 divisions on the vernier (6deg crankshaft) and get by, provided a strict rev limit of about 4.500 rpm is adhered to.

Noises and refinement

There is a hand choke for the twin SU carburettors on the TC and the engine starts easily with it on a cold morning. The idle inter-connection was set a little too fast on the test car, but it could have been readjusted easily. Normally the choke can be pushed in after about half a mile, but if you should forget, there is that admirable Rover feature of an amber warning light that comes on when the engine reaches running temperature.

Up to about 4.000 rpm the engine is quiet, smooth and refined. Above this speed, which is where you must keep it if you want to press on, it becomes quite noisy and harsh. A lot of this stems from the rorty exhaust system, which seems totally out of character with the generally refined nature of the rest of the car. In this particular aspect, though, several of our staff thought the latest car slightly better than its predecessors.

There is a pleasant lack of wind noise at speed, sealing of the quarterlights being helped no doubt by the new handwheel controls for them in the front.

Heating and ventilation

Although the engine is quite quick to warm up, it is usually a few miles before the thermostat opens and the heater dispenses hot air. Apart from this limitation the system is just about the best we have experienced, with progressive and fine temperature adjustment (by an air-blending control) and variable, ram-air feed, backed up by a two-speed booster which is exceptionally quiet on its slower setting. Fresh-air ventilation is directed to two facia vents on the scuttle rail directly in front of driver and passenger. Cool air from these reaches the face without freezing one“s hands on the way. Extractors in the rear work effectively.

The test car was fitted with a Triplex Hotline heated backlight (£15 extra) which was extremely efficient and well worth the money. It melted a fresh fall of snow in a couple of minutes and kept rear vision perfectly clean. In contrast we did not like the convex rear view mirror which reduced the size of following cars and increased their apparent distance behind. While it did enable the full width of the back window to be seen in a small frame, we found it so deceptive that we would definitely specify the optional flat-glass unit (£3 extra).

One of the changes made last autumn was to the instruments, with a new sub-panel containing four circular dials replacing the rectangular layout, which is retained on the SC only. The new set all have very clear lettering and are so well placed that we cannot think of a single car which is better arranged. There is a large rev counter to match the speedometer, fuel level and water temperature gauge on the right, and an oil-pressure gauge combined with an ammeter on the left. To the left again is an electric clock.

Two stalks under the wheel rim work the dip-switch and headlamp flasher (left) and the indicators and horn (right).

Across the centre of the car is a panel for the switches controlling the interior lamps (one for map reading, one in the roof), all the outside lamps (parking, side, head and fog when fitted), a washer and wiper knob and a hazard-warning button. In addition to two continous speeds, the wipers have an intermittent pause mechanism which can be varied (by a rheostat on the side of the column) between 2 and 15 sec. It proved a tremendous boon in light snow and fine drizzle.

Other handy features on the 2000 are the twin locking storage racks under the facia, the wide shelf in front of the passenger, infinitely adjustable front backrests (with novel friction clamps) and a steering column adjustable over a small range for rake. We liked the way the front doors could be locked without the key, but were astonished to find no child-proof locks on the rear doors.

Front seats look well shaped but are, in fact, rather too hard and slippery to locate one properly on corners. Those in the back sit in similar separate seats and they all seem too low for people shorter than 5ft 10in. As our side elevation drawing shows, the 2000 really has a high bonnet and waist by current standards; Rover have tried to slim the profile in appearance by painting the rocker panels under the doors matt black.

As on the 3500, the TC has its battery in the boot, which does not seem large enough for four people“s luggage until you find most suitcases will stand up on end.

After four years of successfull production with the TC, Rover have made it a much more appealing car by the latest revisions. Ride, handling and brakes are all more than good enough to take it on a few more years, but the engine is really overdue for a substantial power boost. More capacity would mean more torque and this would give the greater flexibility one expects of a car in this class now. Although pleasant enough in its present form, it would be a much improved car for that kind of a change.

0-60 mph 12.2 sec

top speed 105 mph

overall fuel consumption 22.4 mpg


Autocar / UK March 1971