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 You can get more performance for less money - the 2200 TC is not significantly quicker than the superseded 2000 TC except on flexibility - but it is not easy to get elsewhere the performance combined with the comfort, quietness, smoothness and superb finish that are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.

The most 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 years.

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.


To recap 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 fully home.

Smoothness 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.

Since the 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, slightly pessimistic.

When we 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.

At 19.8 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.

Unlike the 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.

Unlike that 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.

At high 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.


With disc 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.

The handbrake 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.

Comfortable 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.

The spare 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.

Two massive 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.

Ride comfort

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

Everyone 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.

The inertia reel seat belts fitted as standard are easy to fasten, excellent in use and tidy when stowed away.


Short drivers 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 unwiped.

The four headlamps gave an excellent blaze of light.


The excellent 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

The controls 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.


By any 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.

In service

Minor 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 sec

top speed 108.3 mph (claimed by Rover)

overall fuel consumption 20.4 mpg


Motor / UK October 1973