Rover 2000

It is a curious fact that the more is willing to spend on a car the more difficult it becomes to find one which accentuates quality and comfort, without over-emphasizing performance and size to a degree which many motorists find more embarrassing than useful. The Rover cannot be criticized on these grounds and at £1.264 it fits neatly into the middle of the £1.000 and £1.500 price bracket, one of the few ranges in which choice is very limited.

Comfort is the keynote of this car. From the point of view of ride we would put it in the top three amongst European cars irrespective of price. Since the handling, roadholding and general stybility give both driver and passengers the utmost confidence, and the Dunlop disc brakes are exceptionally powerful, the mental aspect of comfort is covered as well as the physical side.

The driving position, the seats, the controls and the interior environment generally are fully up on this standard. One has the impression that it was planned by engineers who are enthusiastic drivers and by stylists who put function before decoration, and the result is something of an object lesson to other manufacturers. Boldly, and we think sensibly, the decision was made to furnish the car as luxurious four-seater and, although there is room to carry a fifth in the back when necessary, such a contingency is not allowed to compromise this essential purpose.

In refinement our test car fell a little below the very high standard set by previous Rovers. It is a quiet car generally, particularly at high speeds, but when travelling slowly, tyre noise can be prominent at some bad surfaces. The gearbox, too, could well be less audible in second and third speeds, and the engine becomes rather fussy well before its generous 6.000 rpm limit is reached. We have to make these remarks on the evidence of two pre-production samples, although we are well aware that substantial improvements may have been made by the time production cars reach the public. For this reason potential buyers would be well advised to form their own opinions on later models.

When we were driving the Rover (without nameplates) on test several weeks before its announcement date, it was intriguing to see how little public reaction it aroused. Most people probably summed it up as Italian, expensive and unattainable. Judging by its maximum speed of 104 mph and remarkably good steady speed fuel consumption, its elegant but unobtrusive lines must be aerodynamically very efficient.


The Rover cruises with that effortless stride which seems peculiar to very high-geared four-cylinder cars. With a top gear giving 19.5 mph/1.000 rpm, there seems to be no need for an overdrive, even when speeds in the nineties are held for long distances on the motorway. A very creditable mean maximum speed of 104 mph corresponds to about 5.300 rpm, and even 110 mph, which was seen on the accurate speedometer on one downhill stretch, is comfortably below the 6.000 rpm engine limit.

For the lower gears this limit is clearly marked on the instrument face at the unusually high maximum of 30, 55 and 85 mph; since top gear acceleration is not very rapid, although quite smooth even from very low speeds, the gears must be used freely when hurrying. Second gear, in particular, sweeps the car rapidly up the speed range in a very satisfying way, but against the quiet background level engine noise becomes much more noticeable in the intermediates. There is a resonance in the region of 4.000 rpm, and a rising sound level above 5.000 rpm which discourages regular use of this region. The ability to reach 50 mph in just over 10 seconds and to cover the standing quarter mile in 19.4 seconds puts the Rover on a par with most saloons of up to a litre greater capacity.

Starting is instantaneous with momentary use of the choke, and warming up is very rapid. A re-start on the 1-in-4 test hill was accomplished easily in the high bottom gear, but the ability to take-off on 1-in-3 with the full test load proved marginal.


A short rigid lever controls a close-ratio gearbox with powerful synchromesh on the forward ratios. For very rapid changes the synchromesh resistance makes the movement rather notchy, but normal shifts are accomplished with a light easy movement, only marred by some clonking from the remote-control linkage. The reverse position is made available by squeezing a T-shaped sliding catch upwards towards the knob, a reversion to a vintage arrangement which is both easy and convenient, and which obviates the struggles which can arise with lifting levers and spring-loaded gates.

On our test car, second and third gears whined at low to medium speeds, particularly on the overrun. In some cars this noise would hardly be noticed, but the subdued environment of the Rover throws it into prominence and work is in progress to eliminate it. The diaphragm clutch is smooth, has a moderate travel and is as light as most 1 1/2 litre cars. On the standing-start acceleration tests it gripped in a very positive manner, but the de Dion-suspended rear wheels refused to spin. By the use of torsional flexible shafts in the transmission and radial cord tyres, the drive is heavily cushioned against shock; possibly it is slightly too springy since clumsy driving in the lower gears excites some fore and aft surging motion.

Running costs

Even when accelerating at full throttle from below 10 mph in top gear there was no pinking on premium grade fuel; on a 9.1 comprsssion ratio this spoaks well for the unusual combustion chamber shape. More impressive still is the extraordinary fuel consumption at steady speeds in top gear. There are cars of less than half its engine size which fail to achieve 41 mpg at 50 mph, and there are very few cars of any size which can combine 48 mpg at 30 mph with 23 mpg at 90 mph. With this tremendous range the overall consumption is more dependent than usual on driving speeds and methods. A few typical examples are shown below:

Rush-hour driving in city traffic. Average speed 13 mph

21.0 mpg

Motorway running at 90 mph average speed, cruising speed 90-95 mph

22.5 mpg

Very hard main road driving making full use of gears and reaching 90 mph whenever possible, average speed 51 mph

24.0 mpg

Main road touring, cruising speed 50-60 mph, mainly top gear 33.0 mpg


The Rover Company makes no recommendations for service charges but since there is only one greasing point (the sliding joint of the propeller shaft) to be lubricated at 5.000-mile intervals, the cost should be low. With the possible exception of the fuel pump, all the accessories and components which normally need attention are very accessible, the battery and oil filter notably so.




The Rover“s stability at high speeds is most striking. One narrow, bumpy, cambered lane on which most cars feel unsafe or very uncomfortable at 70 mph was taken at an almost unprecedented 95 mph with no conscious awareness of holding it on a straight line. Fast bends can be taken very rapidly indeed with the same confidence; there is little roll or tyre squeal and wheel adhesion is little affected by rough surfaces.


To say that it can be thrown round sharper and slower corners like a good sports car would be an exaggeration. In these extreme conditions it remains very safe but there is some wheel fight on bumps in spite of the steering damper and rather too much understeer for really rapid response, particularly in the wet. Nevertheless, very few saloons of comparable size and weight (let alone comfort) come nearer to deserving the compliment.


For manoeuvring at walking speeds and less, the steering is fairly heavy; on the move this heaviness disappears, leaving a smooth, friction-free control which is light enough to make an arm“s-length driving position effortless and enjoyable. On the other hand, with 3 3/4 turns from lock to lock and a very good turning circle of just over 30 ft., its gearing is high enough to make violent twirling unnecessary, so that the compromise has been extremely well made.




In progressive feel and sheer power, the Dunlop disc brakes are amongst the best we have tried. They are of a size which would be adequate for a considerably heavier and faster car, and our fade tests had a negligible effect on their performance. The water splash produced a momentary reduction of efficiency but one stop from 30 mph restored them to normal.


Since at one time disc hand brakes were nearly always unsatisfactory, it is worth mentioning that the one fitted to the Rover, of self-adjusting design, not only held the car quite easily on a 1-in-3 gradient but also give the best deceleration from 30 mph that we have yet recorded.


Comfort and control


It is doubtful whether there is any car in which four people can undertake a long journey more comfortably. Although, as we have already indicated, the suspension is rather audible at low speeds when dealing with sharp-edged road shocks, this is noise rather than feel and it copes superbly with a vast range of other conditions. Damping is heavy enough to eliminate the floating motion which upsets many people and light enough to avoid the sudden jolts and surges for which it can be responsible. Sudden dips and hump-backed bridges are taken smoothly, and pitching is almost unnoticeable, even under heavy braking. All these remarks apply to the rear seats as well as the front ones.


All four passengers sit in well-upholstered armchairs properly shaped to support the spine and curved for lateral support. In the back there are small arm rests each side and a wide central one which can be folded away to leave room for a central passenger sitting rather high with little headroom on upholstery of uncomfortable shape. Long legs are accommodated comfortably in the rear by virtue of seats which are high off the floor and ample foot room under the front cushions.


Since the high sitting position is particularly noticeable in the front, we were surprised to find that the driver“s eye height was some two inches lower than in a newly-designed 1 1/2-litre saloon on test at the same time - an indication of the importance of having the lowest possible floor level. The backrests can be friction-locked in any position by a convenient lever, and we found this Rover-designed mechanism preferable to the more common notched systems which move in finite steps. Most drivers found a tendency to slide forward along the rather flat seat cushions, thus losing support for the lower part of the back. More rearward slope on the cushion might prevent this, or a bracing rest for the left foot, since the toe board is out of reach.


Few cars are so adaptable to drivers of different size. An enormous range of seat adjustment is supplemented by a steering wheel which can be moved up and down by more than an inch after slacking a hand nut to the right of the column, pivoting as it moves about a universal joint near the bulkhead. This unusual and very valuable feature makes it possible to find an almost ideal driving position. Some tall drivers sitting right back found the gear lever knob rather far away, but this too can easily be altered by a service station.


Low wind noise, achieved by careful draught sealing, is complemented by a built-in heating and ventilating system which enables all the windows to remain closed except in hot weather. The driver and front passenger have separate cold air grilles in the facia with small levers for controlling the volume of air and deflector flaps for its direction. The flow can be increased still further with the very quiet two-stage booster fan on, without too much extra noise, by opening the rear quarter-lights. With a full tank, a strong smell of petrol penetrates to the interior.


All-round visibility is good, the forward“view, though a very deep screen over a sharply failing bonnet, particularly so. A convex mirror gives a wide field of vision to the rear, but many people dislike the misleading nature of its diminished image. Four headlights give an excellent spread of light for night driving, and the reversing light is automatically switched.


Fittings and furniture


Careful thought and clever design distinguishes the interior layout. It is modern and rational and yet it still looks and feels, and ever smells like a Rover. A large clear strip-type speedometer, a thermometer and a fuel gauge are mounted in a rectangular panel behind the elegant two-spoke wheel, high up and close to the line of sight, and above them is a row of labelled warning lights which are far too conspicious to be overlooked. The only other instrument is an electric clock centrally mounted on a broad strip of African walnut grain which runs right round the car at window sill height. This facia layout, although unusually short of instruments for a Rover, leaves room for a large shelf below the screen with a non-reflecting black finish; underneath is a row of switches recognizable by labels, by symbols (several of them obscure) and by proper shaping according to their direction of movement.


The sidelamp switch has a position for two parking lamps only, and a push on the rotating knob of the variable-speed wipers brings electrically-operated washer jets into action. A long lever projects from each side of the steering column, the left-hand one controlling the headlamp dipping or flashing all four headlights, and the right-hand one operating the horn and direction indicators. Below the facia on each side are large drop-down glove lockers, hinged above the ankles and making clever use of what would normally be wasted space.


Their lids are heavily padded and so are the sun visors and the mirror surround. Both visors have vanity mirrors, but it seems doubtful whether this is desirable on the driver“s side. Safety belt mountings are built in, but the easily adjustable Irvin harness fitted to the test car is an optional extra. The car is very well equipped with all the fittings which make for an owner“s convenience, including boot and under-bonnet lights.


0-60 mph 14.6 sec.

top speed 104 mph

overall fuel consumption 23.0 mpg


Motor / UK October 1963