Rover 2200 TC
When the Rover
2000 was announced in 1963 it startled the motoring world. At that time British
cars were considered staid and unadventurous and Rover was the bastion of that
conservatism. Yet here was a car that bristled with innovations (a sohc engine,
unusual suspension, disc brakes on all four wheels, and so on) and a car with
which Rover boldly attacked the quality, high-volume saloon market.
The result is
history. It won many friends and many awards, including the AA Gold Medal for
the "high degree of inherent safety incorporated in the design and
construction". Ironically, it is no longer exported to the US because of the
exorbitant cost of meeting their exacting safety regulations. Even so, over
217.000 have been produced, of which about 25 per cent have been exported.
Just how good
the basic design was can be judged by this test of the latest variant, the 2200
in TC form. Naturally there are quite a few modifications (notably the larger
engine, uprated transmission and rear suspension, bigger fuel tank and different
front seat backs to improve rear seat legroom, but the original formula remains
and it has stood the test of time very well.
At Ģ2139 itīs
still extremely good value for money, making some rival imported middle-weights
look rather expensive. You can get more performance for less money - the 2200 TC
is not significantly quicker than the superseded 2000 TC except on flexibility -
but it is not easy to get elsewhere the performance combined with the comfort,
quietness, smoothness and superb finish that are the Roverīs hallmarks.
significant improvement that Rover have made is in refinement, the engine being
far less noisy and harsh at high revs than it was. The gear ratios are ideally
chosen both for brisk motoring or twisty country roads and for relaxed cruising
along motorways at a genuine 100 mph. Quietness and comfort combine to make the
Rover an ideal transcontinental express. The instruments are outstanding and the
shin-bin arrangement for stowing oddments has yet to be bettered after all these
This isnīt to
say that it doesnīt have faults. Some people will dislike the pronounced roll
when cornering hard and road noise is thrown into prominence by the peacefulness
elsewhere. The minor controls need updating and the gearchange is rather baulky.
Itīs a pity that Rover didnīt rectify these flaws when up-dating the rest of the
car but, even so, thereīs still plenty of life in the 2200.
briefly, Roverīs in-line four-cylinder engine has a cast iron cylinder block, an
aluminium cylinder head and a single overhead camshaft driven by a double roller
chain and operating the valves via inverted bucket tappets. It is also
interesting in that the combustion chambers are incorporated in the crowns of
the pistons. Rover were among the first to adopt this feature.
To raise the
capacity from 1980 to 2205 cc, the bore has been increased so that the engine is
slightly oversquare, at 90.5 x 85.7 mm; previously, bore and stroke were both
85.7 mm. As well as the langer pistons that this increase in capacity has
dictated, the 2200 engine has larger exhaust valves and, on the TC version, new
twin SU HIF6 carburetters in place of twin SU HD8s so that it now conforms to
ECEīs exhaust emission regulations. The TC also has a
thermostatically-controlled air intake for the carburetters, a modified ignition
system to reduce radio interference, a new starter motor and a reduction in
compression ratio from 10:1 to 9:1, so that four-star petrol can be used rather
than five star.
The effect of
these changes on power output is small; the engine now produces 115 bhp (DIN)
instead of 114 bhp but at 5.000 rpm instead of 5.500 rpm; there is a marked
increase in torque, however, 136 lb ft (DIN) instead of 126 lb ft, again at a
lower speed, 3.000 rpm rather than 3.500 rpm.
As long as
full choke was used after a cold night, the engine started at the first turn of
the key. The choke had to be kept out for about a mile after pulling away, even
in the mild September weather of our test, but after this it could be pushed
and quietness are maintained right up to the 6.000 rpm red line, indicating a
marked improvement in refinement for this engine, which used to be rather rough
and noisy when extended.
power output is virtually unchanged you canīt expect much improvement in all-out
performance. On acceleration from rest, the 2200 TC is a little faster all the
way up to 90 mph. 60 mph being reached 0.4 sec sooner in 11.5 sec; 1.8 sec is
shaved off the 90 mph h time. We were unable to complete a lap of MIRAīs banked
circuit to measure the maximum speed accurately because of construction work on
one of the straights. However, the 2000 TC did 108.4 mph with almost the same
power so Roverīs own claim (which weīve quoted) of 108.3 mph is, if anything,
tested the 2000 TC in 1966, figures of this order were considered fairly
impressive. Nowadays, they are not outstanding and in the performance stakes
some competitors like the Alfa Romeo 2000 and Triumph 2.5 PI are superior. From
our comparison chart it can be seen that on top speed and acceleration the 2200
TC is about average. It does score more strongly on flexibility though, the
30-50 mph time in top of 9.6 sec being about 10 per cent better than that of the
2000 TC. This flexibility shows up in mid-range, for the engine responds readily
and smoothly to the accelerator at all speeds.
We got an
overall consumption of 20.4 mpg which compares fairly well with the opposition
but is 1.9 mpg worse than the 2000 TC managed. However, the car no longer needs
five-star fuel to avoid pinking - four-star is quite satisfactory - so there is
a small saving here. Our touring fuel consumption (computed from our steady
speed consumption figures) of 25.7 suggests that frugal owners might get
somewhere around 24-25 mpg which gives an excellent range from the new 15-gallon
fuel tank of about 390 miles.
To cope with
the extra torque, Rover have uprated and strengthened the clutch (tougher lining
and stronger diaphragm spring), gearbox (shot-peening on first, second and third
gear pinions) and final drive (a four-pinion 3500-type differential instead of
the original two-pinion type). The gearlever, which has been lengthened by two
inches to increase the leverage, moves through a well-defined gate slickly and
precisely, provided that the changes arenīt rushed. It baulks quite badly if you
snatch the lever, however, and it was difficult to select first or second when
the gearbox was cold. After our acceleration runs the synchromesh on second and
third gears became very weak but it seemed to recover soon after.
The choice of
ratios is ideal. Theyīre fairly high and close, maxima in each of the
intermediates being 33, 56 and 86 mph. With an engine having less mid- and
low-range torque, ratios this high would demand constant use of the gearlever to
maintain a reasonable pace. But the excellent characteristics of the engine
effectively mask this high gearing so that the car responds quickly to the
accelerator in any gear at almost any speed; what you do notice is the unusually
high speed range available in any gear - especially third - which is a great
boon for overtaking.
mph/1.000 rpm, top gear provides relaxed cruising at high speed - 100 mph is
effortless. Some of the credit for this must go to the smoothness of the engine
but most to the gearing, for at this speed the engine is spinning at only 5.050
rpm - a long way from its limit of 6.000 rpm. At 70 mph the engine is turning
over at a mere 3.500 rpm.
We found the
clutch to be progressive and fairly light but spoilt by its rather long travel,
every inch of which was needed to make a smooth change. Despite its uprating,
the clutch made heavy work of a restart on a 1 in 3 slope; the car did
eventually make it, though not without much clutch slip.
gearboxes of the very early 2000s, the current unit is now virtually inaudible.
Thereīs a faint whine in second and third but you have to be hypersensitive to
notice it. The rear axle was quiet.
For the 2200,
Rover have adopted the 3500 rear suspension which has stiffer mounts and
springs, and larger shock absorbers.
of most European competitors the steering is by worm and roller and, typically,
a little vague about the straight ahead position, an impression accentuated by
the unfashionably large steering wheel. As the steering is also very light (a
good point, obviously), holding the car straight at high speed in a cross wind
can be rather difficult.
cornering speeds the car rolls a lot, making it untidy through S-bends.
Otherwise the 2200īs handling is very good, and the limit of adhesion is high,
on smooth as well as bumpy roads. The car tends to oversteer more than the 2000
- presumably because of the greater spring stiffness at the rear - but we
preferred it this way, though on slower corners, an injudicious application of
throttle can make the tail step out of line quickly.
brakes all round - inboard at the rear - the Rover still has a brake
specification that puts many rivals to shame. Theyīre very progressive in
operation and impart good feel, though some drivers might find them to be a
little over-assisted - only 45 lb was required to achieve a 1.0g stop. They also
proved immune to fade in our 20-stop test despite smelling strongly at times,
and they recovered quickly from a thorough soaking in the water splash.
gave a good emergency stop of 0.39g and had no trouble holding the car on a 1 in
3 slope whether facing up or down.
Access to the
back is marred by small rear doors that donīt open very far, and by the small
gap between the seat cushion and the door pillar. Once in, though, most people
should find the seats very comfortable indeed, as they are effectively two
buckets separated by a fold-down centre armrest, at just the right heigh -
evidence of meticulous attention to detail.
yes, spacious no. Rover have re-designed the front seat backs of the 2200 to
provide more legroom in the rear but a tall passenger behind a tall driver may
still find it a little cramped.
wheel can still be mounted in any one of three positions: flat on the boot
floor, standing up at the side or on top of the boot lid. With the wheel at the
side, the boot took 10.3 cu ft of our test luggage.
shin bins under the facia provide the best in-car stowage arrangement we know
of; itīs astonishing that so few other manufacturers have copied the idea. They
are very large, easy to use and you donīt have to move from a normal seated
position to see inside them; an added advantage is that they fold away, leaving
the car tidy and uncluttered. In addition, there is a useful shelf atop the
facia (covered in a non-slip facing) and a small cubby hole just above the
radio. Below the rear window there is a fairly deep shelf with a high lip at the
front to stop objects sliding off under braking.
When we first
tested the Rover 2000 in 1963 we rated its ride as one of the very best. Despite
rising standards over the years, we still rate the 2200īs ride quite highly.
Long undulations at high speed are soaked up easily with no trace of float or
wallowing, while bumpy roads are dealt without undue shuddering or harshness.
The only time the ride came in for any criticism was at town speeds where it can
feel a little jiggly.
At the wheel
thought the driving position was excellent, but with a few reservations. Thereīs
more than enough rearward adjustment, even for the tallest of our drivers, and
the pedals and major controls are well placed. In addition, the steering wheel
is adjustable for height over about a two-inch range. But we all disliked the
big wheel, one driver thought that the seats were lacking in lumbar support and
another would have liked a little more slope on the cushion - criricism that
have been levelled at the 2000/3500 before. Even so, these dissenters said they
remained comfortable on a long journey.
Rover was one
of the first manufacturers to use fingertip stalks for the minor controls but
unfortunately they havenīt been revised to conform to current practice. What was
once an excellent system now seems a bit muddled and dated. On the right thereīs
a stalk for the indicators and horn, on the left one which controls the
headlights and dip. The combined wash/wipe switch (which includes a facility for
delayed wiping) is mounted on the facia and is awkward to reach in a hurry.
Other manufacturers have shown that it is possible to combine all these
facilities on stalks around the column without any confusion. As well as the
wipe/wash switch, there are controls for the lights and interior lamps
(shape-coded for easy identification at night) mounted on the facia, as well as
a hazard warning switch. The rheostat for varying the wiper delay is on the left
of the column canopy.
reel seat belts fitted as standard are easy to fasten, excellent in use and tidy
when stowed away.
might be in trouble seeing out over the rather high scuttle and instrument
cluster, and diagonal vision is slightly obstructed by the quarter lights. But
people of average height should have no trouble in manoeuvring in a tight
situation as you can see all four corners of the car. The sidelight tell-tales
on top of the front wings are particularly helpful. We liked the outside mirror
fitted as standard on the driverīs door, but not the convex interior mirror
which makes everything look too small and distant. The wipers donīt lift off the
screen at speed but they do leave the bottom right-hand corner of the screen
headlamps gave an excellent blaze of light.
instrument cluster (including a speedometer, rev counter, ammeter, water
temperature, oil pressure and fuel gauges) and warning lights are mounted high
up and directly in front of the driver. The dials are clearly calibrated, easy
to read and, on our car, very accurate. At night they are illuminated by a
diffused blue/green light and absolutely reflection free; we have no hesitation
in rating them as among the best you can get - perhaps the very best. However,
in daylight the sloping glass cover picks up stray reflections from the top of
the steering canopy and chromed minor control stalks. Apart from cutting down
these reflections a matt covering for the stalks would be more in keeping with
the interior trim of the car.
Heating and ventilation
for the heater consist of three vertical slides. Those for temperature and air
distribution are sited on the left of the centre console while the one
controlling volume and the three-speed fan is on the right. The heater gave an
excellent throughput of warm air and the system still sets high standards for
its fine control of temperature and distribution. Two slots directly in front of
each front seat - just where they should be - admit cold air in the interior and
are adjustable for volume and direction. The only fault of the heating and
ventilation system is that the ram pressure at low road speeds is poor (though
both the heating and ventilation can be boosted by the very quiet fan) while the
vents tend to pick up engine heat after a standstill.
standards, the 2200 is a quiet car. Even at maximum speed there is very little
wind noise - though on our car this was spoilt by a hiss from the driverīs
quarter light. The engine and transmission are also quiet. Suppresion of thump
from the tyres over manhole covers or Catsī Eyes has never been one of the
Roverīs strongest points, and despite modifications to the rear suspension
mountings to bring it in line with the 3500 this thumping can still disturb the
peace. We also noticed a lot of tyre roar over coarse surfaces.
Fittings and finish
Just to step
inside and close the door with a soft thunk is enough to indicate that this is a
quality product. The decor and finish make most competitors look positively
cheap. The floor is covered with deep, well fitting cut-pile carpet, the doors
and facia are trimmed with a very realistic leathercloth, and the seats with
nylon cloth. Some people liked the bright orange upholstery, others didnīt.
Throughout the finish is really outstanding.
The 2200 is
also very well equipped. A cigar lighter, heated rear window, map light
(controlled by the interior light switch) and fuel reserve are all standard
fittings. In keeping with Roverīs attention to detail all the switch-gear along
the facia is illuminated when the instruments are lit.
servicing is required every 3.000 miles, a major one every 6.000 miles. All of
the major service items are easily accessible in the engine compartment, notably
the plugs, distributor, carburetters, master cylinders, washer bottle and
dipstick. On the right hand front wing there is a neat decal that gives details
of fill-up data and capacities, tyre pressures, battery specific gravity,
contact breaker gaps and so on.
0-60 mph 11.5
108.3 mph (claimed by Rover)
consumption 20.4 mpg
Motor / UK