best of them all?
Rover 2000 was the only model to win more than one award in Modern Motor´s
Readers´ Poll. It took out the best luxury compact title, then slid home a
convincing winner in the major Best All-Rounder category.
latter section we´d asked readers to nominate the one model they´d choose,
irrespective of price, to fulfil the tasks of family outings, holiday
touring, personal enjoyment driving and everyday transport.
Rover really fill all those bills? Editor David Frith and I decided to
find out. MM has tested the Rover previously, but we decided to refresh
our impressions and after only several days´ fast talking managed to ease
one from the loving grasp of Sydney´s Grenville Motors.
miles later, after a drive through the Blue Mountains of N.S.W., and out
on the historic gold plains around Bathurst and Sofala, we were pretty
well convinced: Modern Motor readers are right.
view is that the Rover is one of the best half-dozen cars I´ve driven.
mountains it was wet and misty; around Sofala it was hot, dry and stony;
throughout the roads were winding; but the Rover 2000 was never
wrong-footed, never caused anxiety of any sort to driver or passenger, was
exceptionally comfortable, and surprisingly economical.
without a doubt, one of the best things to come from the British motor
industry – ah, blow it, ANY industry.
Rover´s real strength lies in its over-the-road ability – ability to
gobble up the miles without apparent effort. It´s not a particularly
powerful car, consequently its acceleration isn´t anything out of the box.
Ninety brake horsepower towing a weight of 24.5cwt isn´t an altogether
favourable power/weight ratio.
the car gets moving, its handling is such that it doesn´t have to ease off
for corners as much as other cars.
result, the overall impression is one of rare effortlessness.
Lancia Flavia Zagato Coupé which we drove and wrote about in Modern Motor
recently left a similar impression.
the Rover along the narrow, winding, undulating roads that characterise
the N.S.W. countryside is sheer pleasure. The ride is level, beautifully
controlled, and free from fore-and-aft pitch. The servo-assisted
four-wheel discs respond faithfully and sensitively. The assistance is
mild by all standards, requiring a strong push for heavy stops, though
light stops are no effort.
gearbox of the car we drove was stiff – probably because it had done less
than 1000 miles, obviating any possibility of performance figures. The
ratios are widely spaced, too, and high, the most obvious gap being
between second and third.
this was only an embarrassement on a couple of very tight uphill corners
where we were wishing both for more power and slightly higher second gear.
The fact that the motor, being, new, was still stiff, added to the Rover´s
discomfort in these few corners.
gearlever is very short – no more than five inches – and this in itself
makes gearchanging more effort. Despite the shortness, the lever is
well-located with a lift-up tab integral with the rubber gaiter locking
out reverse until required.
clutch is not light in operation but it bites strongly and progressively,
steering is worm and roller, with 3 ¾ turns from lock to lock. Some
testers have commented that this is too indirect, but I´m inclined to
think it´s a pretty good compromise.
backing and filling speeds the steering is already heavy. If the ratio
were any more direct it might be excessively stiff.
speed above 10 or 15 mph it is very good, though, combining a nicely
balanced degree of “feel” with ready response. Only on very rough surfaces
is there any “feedback” and this is of a very well-damped variety. Even
so, the Rover will track perfectly without more than the lightest of
guiding hands on the wheel.
Performance is something we weren´t able to measure because of the car´s
newness. However, it will certainly top the “ton”, thanks to a tall final
drive ratio of 3.54 to 1, and a shape that gives the impression of good
wind penetrating properties.
test Modern Motor published back in June 1965 was done on one of the early
cars that differed somewhat from current production models and it ran a
standing quarter in the middle 19s and accelerated to 50 in about 10
that the Rover would be a better car with more power. In its present stage
of tune, however, there´s a very nice balance between power and
TC (twin carburettor) which we haven´t seen here yet has 115 bhp and a
compression ratio of 10 to 1. It´s won rave reviews overseas, so maybe
it´s the answer.
the Rover 2000´s styling and mechanical specifications constituted a major
breakaway for the Rover Co. when the car was introduced about three years
ago, the luxury interior is very much in the old company´s traditions.
is really a four-seater. There are four superbly upholstered places and
although the rear seat is made into a bench by the inclusion of a padded
section between the two rear sections, the individual who sits there would
be comfortable English hide is used thoughout. The test car was a good
dark red outside, with dark brown upholstery and black vinyl trim on dash.
The overall picture was one of typically restrained English luxury.
embellishment in the form of oiled walnut panels on dash and door sills
added another luxury touch. The interior is the best I´ve ever seen – a
triumph (sorry!) of automotive decor.
Headlining is plastic, patterned to look suitably tweedy, and thus
combining a look of the “old school” with the practicality demanded by
today´s car owners.
was a mid-brown, good-quality pile, beautifully tailored to fit all the
corners and cover all the bumps. It´s bound around the edges and firmly
attached to the floors.
Instrumentation is shamefully basic in a car of this class. There´s a
strip speedo flanked by heat and fuel gauges. Warning lights do the rest.
Oh, yes, there´s an electric clock, too, mounted dead centre of the dash.
Every 2 ½ minutes it gives a faint “bonk” as the spring is electrically
instrumentation is basic and only sparsely calibrated, the control toggles
are clearly marked, logically enough arranged and precise in their action.
various toggle switches are shaped like miniature umbrella handles, so
that the fingers engage more definitely and the toggles themselves don´t
spear passengers thrown against the dash in accidents. Headlight flashers
and high and low beam selector is a wand on the left-hand side of steering
column. Opposite there´s a wand that controls turn flashers and blows the
horn. The arrangement is first-class ergonomically and doesn´t involve the
driver in any unnecessary contortions.
of exceptional clarity is fitted.
can be adjusted to suit everybody. Squab rake adjustments are effected by
lifting a very easily operated lever on the inside of each front seat. As
the tension comes off the individual just leans beack or forward as
dictated by his preference. The seat back follows. When the adjustment is
perfect, the lever is fully depressed and the seat locked in position.
fully reclining seats, they are pretty useless for sleeping because there
isn´t anywhere to rest the head. It´s all very nice to be able to rack the
seat down, but it´s no fun having to support the head with the muscles of
the neck and nothing else.
are fitted to all doors, there´s a fold down centre armrest in back and,
as you would expect, ash-trays front and back, plus a lighter.
belts fastened, third gear is a long reach for the driver who likes his
seat well back, and the window winder is completely out of reach.
air, heating and blowing system is complex and, I´m sure, very efficient
in English conditions.
the Divide in N.S.W. on a summer day, despite the personalised dashboard
air vents, we found ourselves wishing for something better, eventually
falling back on the swivelling quarter vents.
minor complaints. The thing that jarred most in an otherwise harmonious
interior was the convex rear view mirror. It gives a completely distorted
view of the traffic behind and can lull the driver into believing the
traffic is some distance back, when in fact it is quite close. For a car
as safety-oriented as the Rover, it´s a strange inclusion. There are,
nevertheless, fewer sources of annoyance or inconvenience inside the Rover
2000 than most other cars.
outside for a moment, the boot is surprisingly generous, with the spare
wheel mounted upright. Under-bonnet accessibility is good although we
advise the Rover owner to roll his sleeves up before diving in. The bonnet
is not self-supporting. One of those old-fashioned articulated rods is
itself is pretty to look at – if, like us, you´re something of a motor
perve. A lot of alloy is evident which always helps the look of things.
The head is aluminium.
It is a
single overhead camshaft unit of 1978c.c. Dead square at 85.7 by 85.7mm,
it runs on a compression ratio of 9 to 1, produces 90 bhp at 5000 and
113.5ft./lb. of torque at 2750. One SU carbie is used – a 1 ½-incher.
1/2in. diaphragm spring clutch couples to the all-synchro four-speed
gearbox already mentioned. All the ratios are fairly high which makes for
effortless touring but modest off-the-mark performance.
Rover´s suspension is its real strength – the one factor that puts its
handling in the top class. The front suspension is a sophisticated
adaption of the MacPherson strut system with the coil springs attached
horizontally against the cowl. The rear suspension is a remarkable
variation of the de Dione theme with splines on the tube itself,
eliminating any tendency for the splines to bind under torsion.
rear, the disc brakes are carried inboard, thereby reducing unsprung
weight and in this case improving brake cooling.
advanced suspension is attached to an equally advanced body which combines
some elements of unit construction with a separate chassis. The body,
doors and deck lids ate bolted on to a skeleton body which is also the
superstructure of a monocoque chassis.
makes for great strength and rigidity. We like that.
said before the Rover 2000 is very close to the summit.