Rover 2000 SC

This single carburettor 2 litre Rover is the "basic" and original version, if anything costing Ģ1.550 can be called basic. Superficially unchanged over six yearsī production, there are nevertheless a host of minor improvements and modifications built into current cars. With impressions of the new Triumph 2000 fresh in our minds, we took another look at the Rover to see how it measures up to its current competition.

Performance and economy

In the past year or so, Rover have provided us with opportunities to test both the SC and TC 2000īs as well as the V8-powered 3500. Between them, they offer all that one could wish for in terms of performance, economy and running refinement. The inevitable snag is that you canīt have all these qualities in one version. More tractable than the TC, this big four nevertheless lacks the flexibility and top gear acceleration of a six and if oneīs first drive is in town, there seems a lot of gearchanging to do. In fact, the SC will pull away from 23 mph in its high top gear without complaint, although one soon learns that for really rapid overtaking, the car in front doing 30 mph must be passed not in top, nor in third, but in second! It really pays to keep the engine spinning, despite its increased noise towards maximum power. Our standing start times have the edge over the lower-geared Triumph sampled recently, although the Roverīs top gear acceleration only equates with what the Triumph can manage in overdrive. Pointed towards the open road, the car gets into its stride past 40 mph and will cruise well past the legal limit without stress, although there is a slightly harsher note between 65 and 75 mph. Starting is prompt from cold or hot (unlike our TC test car last year) and idling reliable, even after prolonged running in congested traffic.

Fuel consumption is very acceptable for a car of such solid build, although it is perhaps significant that we did even better over-all and at constant speeds on the TC - which refutes the popular notion that two carbs must use more fuel than one. The heaviest consumption was 19 mpg, recorded during MIRA performance measurement, whilst restrained domestic use on rural roads produced 28 mpg. A range of nearly 300 miles between refuelling, with a positive reserve on tap, is a great boon too rarely provided on current cars. The locking filler flap does not blow back either and the SC is content with a 4-star diet, as an adjacent rear window sticker conveniently reminds one.

The stubby gear stick feels rather notchy and heavy-going in constant use, but its synchromesh action and general precision are now beyond reproach, with a well-defined gate and short movements around the gate. There is no bias and reverse is protected by a pull-up trigger on the stick. We noticed slight clutch judder at times and the unnatural arc of pedal movement makes the clutch feel heavier than it really is. It coped well with standing start accelerations, however, and managed a 1-in-4 hill pull-away, although the 1-in-3 attempt caused so much slip and smell that we donīt recommend it.

Handling and brakes

How does a trend-setter in the ride and handling stakes compare with the opposition six years later? After careful re-evaluation, we think the Rover is still at the front of the field. Admittedly, the steering lacks the light precision we are now growing to expect, for it gets quite heavy going around town and its sensitivity to road surface causes some kick-back also, through its massive wheel rim. However, the driver is never in any doubt about the limits of front wheel grip (unlike some power-assisted rivals) and the car corners as a model of classic behaviour, with surefooted roadholding and utter predictability, spelt out by increasing roll angles as turning speeds increase. Gentle understeer on a trailing throttle can be turned at will to equally gentle oversteer as the power is applied. In the wet, the limits of grip are naturally reached earlier but the orderly transition occurs in just the same way, and bends can be taken with remarkable rapidity if you donīt upset the weight distribution by using accelerator or brake. Excellent seat shaping supports all four occupants against attendant roll angles, and our Dunlop SP 41 radials tended to howl their protest well before their limit of grip was reached. They also seemed more prone to transmitting road rumble than we remember on our previous Cinturato-shod test car.

Currently, there are several saloons, including the latest Triumph 2000, that can match the Roverīs cornering prowess. But it seems to us that the Roverīs superiority over most of them lies in the level, unflurried ride that you get at the same time. Itīs not thrown off course or deterred by a bump in mid-corner and directional stability along raised ridges is good also, although a little rear end squirm, chatacteristic of this kind of suspension, is just detectable on the straight sometimes. The suspension and seats work together to provide outstanding insulation from rippled road surfaces, even at low speeds over lateral ridges, which is the severest test we know for a car on radial tyres. At cruising speeds, minor bumps and hollows are evened out so effectively that they would pass unnoticed by passengers who werenīt looking. In fact, one soon gets quite blase about the Roverīs ride comfort until one drives along the same road in a lesser car.

The brakes give good pedal response but the initial "threshold" pressure seems higher than on some power-assisted systems. Our carīs main shortcoming was in ultimate stopping ability, from 60 mph, when it slewed badly to one side in response to a moderate 60lb pedal load; this affected our fade assessment, too, for we could not approach our 0.92g cold stop after repeated use. We obtained much better results in our earlier road tests, so perhaps this particular car was below par. The reassuring handbrake held the car securely up or down on a 1-in-3 gradient, but is rather too close to the elbow to give a good pull angle.


Despite limited instrumentation and a control layout devised before most car makers were taking ergonomic seriously, the 2000 acquits itself very well even by todayīs more advanced standards. The driving seat has vast fore-and-aft and rake adjustment and the rather flat cushion can be tilted back by using spacers provided in the tool kit. In any case, ample legroom ensures reasonable thigh support, and the nicest compliment we can pay to the seat shaping is to say that you remain very comfortable and secure on long fast journeys without any exaggerated support or an initial impression of sumptuousness. Vision and headroom are satisfactory without being exceptional. A rather high screen rail and thickish pillars with quarter lights are noticeable and the nearside front wing is out of sight, so it is difficult to see the sidelamp marker on that wing at night. Most drivers will see the rear extremeties, though, and there is good rear vision. We werenīt too happy about the convex interior mirror, for its diminished limage is disconcerting and tall drivers complained that their view was chopped off at the top by the roof line. The whole rear glass is spanned by it, however. Two-speed wipers manage to cope with the wrap-round screen edges but have to leave a triangular blind spot at the top and bottom corners on the driverīs side. Electric washers are conveniently worked by the same control. Instruments and controls are located with regard to function before style, and the designers have provided a layout which works well yet remains in good taste. The main rectangulat instrument has an accurate ribbon speedometer with trip and total mleage recorders and is flanked by the fuel contents and water temperature gauges. In line above are illuminated warning panels for handbrake, low fluid level, ignition, oil pressure, high beam, flashers, and excess choke, so a quick glance confirms that itīs "all systems go". The rev counter which is standard on the 2000 TC is an extra on the SC, but discreet speedometer markings indicate maximum speeds in the lower gears which correspond to a realistic 6.000 rpm. An accurate clock is suspended in full view in the centre of the top screen rail, but must be removed to regulate or restart it.

Controls are widely spaced at steering column level along the facia and are named as well as symbol marked and shape-coded. Two stalks on either side of the column work headlamp flashing and dipping (left) and penetrating horns and indicators (right). Heater, radio, choke, and petrol reserve are placed lower in the facia centre, before the gear lever. The 17-inch steering wheel has rake but no reach adjustment and the pendant floor pedals are well spaced with almost too much stretching room for an idle left foot. The accelerator is smooth and comfortably placed but the brake pedal causes drivers with smaller shoes to lift their heel well off the floor to attack it dead centre. The arrangement is good for heel and toe changes, however. Instruments are illuminated by rheostat control, and the four headlamps give a splendid spread to match the carīs performance at night. Reversing lamps are built into the rear clusters, clear of mud from the back wheels, and extra positions on the headlamp and sidelamp (separate) switches cater for auxiliary lamps and one-side-only parking lamps.

Interior and safety features

Itīs said that the design team responsible for the 2000 were told to style the interior like Scandinavian furniture. After several years of familiarity the result still produces a happy harmony between contemporary and traditional. Leather seat trim (now a cheap optional extra, fitted to our test car) is well watched with simulated material on armrests and non-wearing surfaces. The facia has a tasteful and practical black pvc shelf, a padded top rail across its entire width with formica wood-grained inserts between, which curve round to continue along top door rails. The headlining is an attrractive plastic fleck design and unfussy door trims match the upholstery and lower facia trim. Good-quality bound carpet covers the floor and sides of deep footwells whilst satin-finish stainless steel tread-plates handsomely protect door sills. Everywhere there is this clever and unpretentious blend of traditional and modern materials to produce a harmonious, well-finished result.

Entry and exit is aided by generous front foot-entry space, with doors held to almost ninety degrees by strong check links. However, there is only just enough rear foot entry space, and deep foot-wells can complicate exit for the less agile. Once seated, however, the four armchairs have little to choose between them for comfort, especially if the front seats are set midway, which gives everyone of average height just enough legroom and headroom. The rear seat is meant to cosset two in shaped luxury with padded rear quarter panels designed to support dozing heads, but the wide centre armrest will fold away to give a third adult a temporary perch. Two ashtrays are located at the front and rear of the centre console and a single central roof light obeys courtesy switches on all doors, although it is distracting to drive with it on. Pop-up buttons are depressed to lock passenger doors although there are no separate childproof locks; the rear releases require quite a lot of effort to operate, however.

Our biggest disappointment with the test car was the prominent tyre noise it produced over coarse surfaces, as well as the degree of engine busyness we have grown to expect from the Rover 2000. The engine note is only really obtrusive when one is winding it up through the gears, and the transmission is now silent. Wind sealing is quite good with all windows closed, an arrangement which is now made practical by the incorporation of undetectable but effective rear extractors. The bodywork feels very rigid over bad surfaces although there was the odd rattle from the facia on our test car.

Strip vents in the facia directly before occupants have a vertical direction control as well as volume adjusters. They are linked to the two-speed heater booster (which is sensibly wired to operate also when the ignition key is turned to the "accessory" position). Ram delivery is improved by the incorporation of rear extractor ducts and rear window demisting is now achieved quite easily, although the quiet, slower fan speed is still needed for town driving. This applies also to the heater which has reasonable output with a wide range of instant temperature variation. Windscreen ducts span the entire glass width and there is also excellent distribution at floor level, reaching both front and rear occupantsī feet. Our car has the nasty habit of blowing cold air at oneīs feet when the direction lever was set for face level ventilation only.

Safety is a very prominent feature of this Rover design and is not just a tacked-on afterthought. The front and rear of the body skeleton is designed to collapse progressively on major impact and the steering box is well out of the way, high on the scuttle. Anchorage points for safety belts are built in at front and rear whilst our car was fitted with the standard front belts which incorporate adjustment for the shoulder strap. Doors are burstproof and the facia, sun visors, and front seat backs are all generously padded, front occupantsī legs are protected by rounded control shaping, and parcel compartments made of padded, collapsible material. Even the friction-held rake adjustment for front seats will yield in a violent rear impact, to obviate neck whiplash injury which is becoming a matter for increasing concern. The AA Gold Medal for Safety was awarded to the design in 1966 and this impressive list helps to show why. One solitary criticism is that the door controls look a bit hard and spiteful compared with some later designs.

The luggage boot would be generous but for the width-robbing spare wheel location; the optional wheel mounting point on the lid seems expensive but is a worthwhile extra to make room for holiday luggage. There is no awkward sill, and automatic illumination of the lined depths is provided, but we noticed a tendency for rain to drip in from the opened lid in wet weather. Inside the car there are useful lipped rear-window and facia shelves, whilst the lower plastic "bins" swallow sizeable bric-a-brac and are lockable too.


The Rover 2000 has its body panels bolted on to a strong skeleton base unit which simplifies body repairs as well as providing a secure cocoon in a crash. The underside is effectively sprayed with protective sealer in manufacture, although this does not extend to the underside of sill panels. Our 12.000-mile carīs exhaust system was suffering from the ravages of last winter but the paint had stood up well, although there was some pitting on minor items of brightwork such as the rear reflectors. Concealed drain channels and underbonnet areas are painted in a corrosion resistant black bituminous finish. The chrome bumpers stand well clear of the bodywork and their mountings go straight through to the chassis. Front grille, nave plates and window surrounds are in stainless metal and the car is generally easy to valet, except that deep footwells complicate brushing out and the front grille is a sponge destroyer. Latest cars have bold makerīs lettering on the boot lid in a most indiscreet fashion, but in most other respects, styling and finish seem to confirm that "a Rover is still a Rover".


Lifting the heavy bonnet, which has to be supported by a crude prop arrangement, reveals a full but orderly layout on the SC. Routine topping-up items are all easily accessible and the air cleaner does not hinder access to the carburettorīs dashpot. Distributor, spark plugs, and oil filter are especially easy to attack although the fuel pump, rear dynamo support, and starter motor are obscured by things above. The sensible screw pillar jack is securely mounted in the boot and locates into four points below the doors, normally shielded by rubber grommets. A useful tool roll is provided, which includes spanners and a tyre pressure gauge but it does not compare with the array one used to get with earlier Rovers. There are four fuses and just one grease nipple, on the prop shaft.


Ever since Rover and Triumph launched their 2000s at the same Motor Show six years ago, people have been arguing their relative merits. The rivalry has been given a new edge by the arrival of Triumphīs imposing Mark II but we suspect that motoring writers, as well as salesmen, can be guilty of extolling new features simply because of their novelty. If the Rover had been launched last wek we reckon it would collect plenty of appreciative comment for its interior appointment and creature comfort, although there would be less enthusiasm for its visibility and accomodation limitations. We consider its blend of ride comfort and cornering prowess still puts most of the competition in the shade whilst careful development has remedied earlier braking and transmission maladies. Both fuel and oil consumption are good for such a sturdy carriage whilst its engine performs quite adequately if one is prepared to use the gearbox. Such high geared inflexibility and an associated weightiness of control make the Rover most suited to the open road than pottering around the suburbs, however, and this is where the more versatile Triumph scores heavily.

Yet the Rover has so much individuality and character; what it sets out to do, it does very well, unlike some designs that set out to attract everybody and finish up satisfying nobody. An uncompromisingly comfortable four-seater with barely adequate boot space it remains unique in styling and superior in construction. It is very easy to forgive its shirtcomings as it woos you with its many virtues.

0-60 mph 14.1 se

top speed 100 mph

overall fuel consumption 25 mpg


Automobile Association / UK September 1970