Rover 2200 TC

A transformed 2000

Too many manufacturers spoil their cars when they are trying to improve them! At last, here is an example of a popular model which has received all the right treatment and is now incomparably better than the earlier version.

The Rover 2000 has been the darling of the British middle classes for more than a decade. Like the French professional man, who demonstrates his solid worth by driving a Peugeot, his British equivalent shows that he has arrived when he buys his first Rover. Its fairly conservative yet distinctive lines are very much to his taste, as is the discreet suggestion of luxury without extravagance.

It is therefore more a criticism of myself than of the car when I say that I found it deadly dull, for it had all of the virtues that I most detest, like a man who means well or a good woman. Now, Rovers have up-rated the suspension and transmission, in line with their 3500 V8, and they have totally transformed the performance of the overhead-camshaft, four-cylinder engine.

The twin-carburetter version always had plenty of speed, but it was desperately short of torque in the middle ranges. The cylinder capacity has only been increased by 226 cc, but the compression ratio has been reduced and bigger exhaust valves have been fitted, together with a three-silencer system of greater volume. The improvement in maximum horsepower is very small, but the torque goes up from 124 lb ft at 3.500 rpm to 135 lb ft at the reduced speed of 3.000 rpm. What that massive increase does to the performance can be imagined, but something cannot appear in the figures, which is the astonishing metamorphosis of the somewhat unrefined engine into a notably smooth and quiet unit. I decline to believe that the modifications are only those stated as the improvement is so great.

To cope with the extra torque, the clutch has been up-rated, and the gearbox developed for the V8 has been adopted. Similarly, the differential of the bigger car has been installed. That these things are necessary can be realised if one reflects that the instantaneous torque of a 2200 cc four-cylinder may be greater than that of a 3500 cc V8. The rear suspension has been stiffened up by adopting V8 components and some extra sound insulation has been introduced at this point.

Using the Rover on my everyday occasions, I was sursprised, on parking it, to hear favourable comments on its appearance from strangers in more than one place, I try to keep my road test cars well washed and polished, but thereīs no doubt that the British are addicted to Rovers. The driving position is good and I must admit that I am sufficiently old-fashioned to like the big steering wheel. Those little ones are logical in the confined space of a single-seater but itīs hard to arrange them to give a clear view of the instruments. In the case of the Rover, a long, narrow air inlet, instantly adjustable for direction and volume, gives a cool atmosphere for breathing without freezing the driverīs hand. This is the best ventilation yet and it would be difficult to arrange with a smaller steering wheel.

Unfortunately, the driving seat did not suit my anatomy at all and I found it very hard for a long journey. The space for the rear passengersī legs is not too generous and the doors might be easier to enter. The luggage boot is also rather cramped and largely occupied by the spare wheel.

On the road, the 2200 TC feels lively and responsive, with useful top gear acceleration from quite low speeds. Nevertheless, the maxima are high in second and third gears, the changes going through very nicely.  The engine spins up to 6.000 rpm without becoming noisy and 100 mph cruising can be maintained for as long as the driver wishes. The car reaches 108 mph quite quickly and then holds that speed, which is more than most owners will require of it.

The controls handle pleasantly, the steering is never heavy, while the brakes are both powerful and consistent in action. There is less understeer than in the past, the car being well balanced and handling safely on slippery surfaces, when hard acceleration may cause the rear-end to break away, but this can instantly corrected. During normal motoring, the car rolls less than before, only reaching considerable angles when driven very hard indeed. The cornering power is not exceptional, though more than adequate, and the de Dion axle gives good adhesion over bumps.

A little former than before, the ride is very comfortable once the car is in its stride. At town speeds, there is some up-and-down movement that passes off as crusing pace is reached. Bump-thump is rather noticeable over broken roads or catseyes and tyre roar over sandpaper surfaces can be rather loud. Wind noise is quite low and does not increase as much as usual with speed. The stability of the old 2000 was not impressive in side winds but the 2200 is somewhat better in this respect.

There are some nice things about the car, such as the reserve petrol tap which has been a Rover feature for so long - it saved me from being stranded on the M1. The trigger on the gearlever is so much more pleasant than having to lift or lower the thing, often with considerable strength; besides, the best vintage cars had this arrangement when quality mattered more than price. The intermittent wiper setting should be on all cars, but itīs surprising how few of them have it.

For long, fast journeys, the performance of the four-cylinder Rover has been transformed. Whereas the 2000 seemed to need urging along, the 2200 is more than willing to get on with the job. People who would normally have bought the 3500 may be in doubt as petrol costs rise. The old 2000 would have seemed a bit sluggish to the V8 owner but this new model, with its greatly increased torque and smoother performance, is not so far behind the more powerful Rover.

The Rover is a special sort of car that perhaps only the British know how to make. There is nothing spectacular about it but it has an air of quality which is obvious at first glance. Its design has dated remarkably little and its friends know about its few faults and accept them, ordering another Rover as a matter of course. I used to drive myself to school in a Rover when I was twelve years old and I still enjoy handling the latest version.

0-60 mph 11.5 sec

top speed 108 mph

fuel consumption 20-25 mpg


AUTOSPORT / UK December 1974