Rover 2000 automatic - from the driverīs seat

For a tester to sit once more behind the wheel of a Rover 2000 after a two years absence akin to the Christian returning to the temple for a quick reviver; it restores the faith that somewhere, someone is looking after for the motorist.

The car bristles with ingenious items and equipment that are all designed to reduce fatigue and provide the driver with full control at all times and make it a pleasure to drive the car.

The steering wheel as first acquaintance feels unneccessarily large (diameter 17 1/2-inch.) but this is soon forgotten and it certainly allows for lots of leverage to be exerted if needed. It can be raised or lowered over an inch by means of an aluminium knob on the right hand side of the column.

The Rover is one car that you step down into and for all the tall driver, this feature is a blessing. One of the major complaints from tall drivers in sporty type cars is that when seated in the normal straight leg driving position, any movement of the left foot towards the rear causes the knee to rise a proportionate amount and invariably make contact with the steering wheel. This is not so with the Rover. By virtue of the higher floor to seat height, the knees get nowhere near the wheel and the good driving position is maintained. This, coupled with the feature of the adjustable wheel, makes the driving position suitable for all shapes and sizes.

On the subject of seats, the fore and aft adjustment is under the driverīs knee at the front of the seat and the back angle adjustment control is between the seat and the transmission tunnel. A suitable combination of seat adjustment is therefore guaranteed to suit all individuals. A fine height adjustment is available and can be made by altering the distance pieces on which the seat runners are mounted.

Rover engineers obviously tried to make the interior of this car 100% convenient when it came to locating the primary and secondary controls. It is ROAD TESTīs opinion that they have succeeded, without reservations.

The recangular 120 mph speedometer is of the ribbon type and is easily readable. It has mph on the top of the horizontal scale and kph on the lower side for those who may wish to venture south of the border, no conversion charts required. The maximum speed figures in the gears with the automatic when shifting manually, are in yellow on the dial. The unit also contains the warning lights with clearly marked windows indication function. A closer look at these items shows again the attention to detail by the Rover engineers. The choke in use light is thermostatically controlled so that the light does not come on unless the engine is too warm to need choking. The flasher lights work as normal but should a front or rear indicator bulb fail, the remaining indicator will continue to flash, but the bulb failure is indicated by the rapid flashing of both arrow heads and the flasher unit cannot be heard.

The speedometer has a trip odometer with colored decimal and total mileage recorders. The two black knobs sticking out of the unit are for resetting the trip and controlling the rheostat illumination respectively. The fuel and temperature gauges bracket the speedometer and are clearly calibrated. The whole dial can be quickly and easily scanned by the driver and all the pertinent information he needs to know about his carīs state of health is right there; a far cry from the hide and seek variety common to a large number of the domestic models.

The speedometer unit sits in a hooded black fascia that spans the width of the car. To the right of the dial is a clock (electric) that is noisy but it keeps accurate time. The back of this shelf is grained Formica which although not as luxurious as wood, is certainly more practical. The shelf itself is extremely useful for stowage of light items although they will tend to slide around if the car is thrown about a bit. On the lower section of the dash, the tumbler switches are clearly marked (using international picture symbols), and can readily be identified, even in the dark by virtue of their different designs according to function. All of them are easily operated by the driver without having to perform any acrobatics to reach them. The lighting controls require a little study to ensure correct operation but this is soon mastered. The wipers have the combined washer control on the same switch and the speed of the wipers can be varied to suit the driverīs personal taste for the weather conditions. The interior lighting switch has two positions, the first bringing on the light behind the mirror. This light is beamed directly down so that a map can be easily read at a convenient point to the driver without having to curl up close to a glove box mounted light. The second position brings on the rear dome light; both of these units will operate when the appropriate doors are opened.

Two curved handles lower down the console are, respectively, the gas reserve and choke controls. The gas reserve control when pulled allows the driver the last 1 1/2 gallons of the total 14 gallons to be used. The driver must remember to push this back in when the tank is refilled otherwise the convenience of the control is wasted.

The Rover 2000 has truly commendable heating and fresh air ventilation arrangements. A vertical lever on the center quadrant has three settings for fresh air. The first click on the way down allows fresh air to flow into the car, the second and third clicks operate the fan at low and high speeds respectively. The left hand levers control temperature and where it goes. The temperature knob is colored red and blue. Move towards blue, cut off the heat. towards red, increase heat, the action being progressive between the two. Similarly, the white arrows on the distribution control lever direct air either on the windshield or into the car, with the choice of either or both. In front of the driver and passenger are two small air vents with individual controls. These supply only cold air and this can be directed on the driverīs face. It is an excellent idea and is extremely useful in preventing drowsiness on a long journey when the car may be overly warm. As there are quarter windows in the front doors and wing vents in the rear, maximum flow through ventilation is easily controlled without resorting to opening the main windows.

The Rover pedals are at the same level and swift movement from gas to brake is possible without having to lift the foot. The dip switch is on the floor and is easily operated by the left foot without having to search around up under the dash. The handbrake pulls up from the center tunnel which is convenient to use although possibly a shade on the high side. Ahead and behind the braker lever on the center tunnel console are ash trays for all occupants.

The interior of the 2000 is definitely high quality. The pile carpets and mats are well fitted and the side area by the passengersī heads is padded. The seats, front and rear are orthopedically designed and the car is strictly a four seater, the rear seats bering individually contoured bucket style. They firmly locate the passengers and will give excellent lateral support shoud the driver get a bit boisterous on the corners. All seats are of leather and are superbly padded. Leg room in the back is good, even with the seat fully back but in this position, getting the feet out to exit from the car requires a little patience. Once seated however, there is adequate room.

Apart from the useful package shelf, there are two unique lockable pockets in front of the driverīs and passengerīs knees. They are operated by pushing a button on the dash the "bins" drop down revealing an incredible amount of stowage space. The driverīs bin is partitioned to take stowage of bottles and glasses (for "soft" drinks of course). All sorts of sizeable items can be safely locked away. The bins also perform another function in the event of a collision. They will protect the knees as they are flung forward and will absorb the energy at a controlled rate. The whole fascia gets into the act at this stage and continues to absorb energy long before the body can come into contact with the forward bulkhead. The hood release is also inside the driverīs glovebox.

The complete feeling of security imparted to the driver when first seated in the car is further enhanced by a casual glance at the door hinges and locks. The double adjustment available to ensure close fits is clearly evident and the two sets of weather stripping ensure a draft free car and waterproof interior. The doors will close with very little effort und there is that indefinable secore click that many buyers find so satisfying.

The visibility is very good, even with the fairly thick pillars and with the very low hood line. The same can be said to the rear. The roof line at the rear also extends far enough back to give the rear seat passengers some shade effect from the sun, a small point but an important one on a long journey.

The outside of the car has not changed appreciably from the first time we tested the car. Like other European manufacturers, mud-flaps are standard. While the Rover is unlikely to encounter too much mud, the flaps offer protection against stone damage and melting tar on the underside of the car.

One item which is an extra and not needed in Southern California is the Ice-Alert indicator. We were able to test this in the mountains and it does work. It is designed to warn drivers when the temperature drops to a point where ice can be forming on the surface of the road and it must be rated as a boon for deriver in colder regions where such knowledge can prevent an accident.

That then is a review from the driverīs seat. That Rover is continuing to market the car with very little change from the model as first introduced indicates that they were right on the button to begin with. Sales of the car continue to climb steadily proving again that they carefully judged the market and have built an enviable position of trust between themselves and their customers. They have also proved quite categorically that safety, coupled with quality, can sell automobiles.

ROAD TEST / USA June 1968