Rover 2000 SC
the Rover P6 was launched over seven years ago and it has only just received its
first facelift, a fair endorsement of the original design which itself took
several years to reach fruition. In 1963 the Rover 2000 set new standards of
ride and comfort, and to some extent facia planning, for that class of car; the
ride in particular was among the top in any company. Our criticism then were the
slightly fussy but very revvable engine, some gearbox whine and prominent radial
thump at low speeds. Its outstanding virtues were effortless high speed
performance with comfort and luggage space for four adults; it wasnīt very quick
off the mark but our pre-production prototype achieved 104 as a mean of two
the more powerful TC and the 3500 have been introduced. The current 2000 SC
engine should give the same performance as the original. but it is possible that
the hand-assembled prototype was a little faster than standard. Our latest test
car was slower in acceleration in top and third gears as well as maximum speed,
although from rest to 80 mph the newer car was quicker. Whether this is from
vagaries of driving or production we cannot say, but the present 2000 SC is not
quite a 100 mph car, although quick enough away from rest to satisfy most owners
not interested in the extra TC power.
The Rover is
still an extremely comfortable car to drive in - there are very few better - and
the changing standards of seven years have done nothing to mat our admiration
for a fine product.
that the roadholding was remarkable for a car of that size where comfort was the
prime consideration; in todayīs more grip-conscious terms it is still good but
the roll angle is higher than we are accustomed to on many saloons. And side
winds have more effect than we would expect from a solid car which on a
wind-free day feels absolutely stable. The 2000 is a pleasant car to drive
whether you are pottering around the countryside at 35 mph, or chuntering down
the Autoroute at 90 mph; quick, quiet and comfortable - a nice blend of
traditional Rover and modern technology.
Performance and economy
Back in 1963
the choice of a four cylinder engine for this class of car was a little
sursprising, even though it was a all-new overhead camshaft unit. But four
cylinders have remained as the predominant specification in the motoring world
and Roverīs five-bearing "square" engine is as smooth and revvable as any. Its
long legged gearing with up to 6.000 rpm available gives good intermediate
speeds which one very rarely needs - 30, 55 and 85 mph being speedometer
markings for gearchanging. The engine has a slightly snarly note as you wind it
up towards these figures, but at normal engine speeds it just thrums remotely
and unobtrusively but nevertheless audibly.
gives instant starting. The choke can then be pressed home progressively; a
warning light tells you if the choke is out unnecessarily after about a mile or
so. Despite its highish gearing the Rover engine is remarkably tractable pulling
very easily from under 15 mph in top gear and as low as 5 mph in third without
judder, about 350 rpm. Third is good for over 80 mph but tails off at 70 mph.
Top gear pulling is predictably not very strong, but if you arenīt in a hurry it
is smooth; if necessary you can always snatch second for overtaking.
From rest we
managed 50 mph in under 10 sec; the clutch and transmission work so well you
just get as many revs on the clock as you like, pop the clutch and the
transmission absorbs it all, the car stepping off quite smartly without a trace
maximum speed of the original test car was 104 mph, we never achieved this speed
either on a staff car or this test car; 98.3 mph seems fairly representative,
although this car had less than 2.000 miles on the clock when tested. The
throttle linkage operates very smoothly and progressively with low gearing at
small openings but quicker opening at the end of the travel. This increasing
heaviness was quite noticeable for 90 mph cruising and for sustained cruising
was almost a limiting factor.
car had a sticker on the rear screen which read: "Use Super/USA Premium Grade
Fuel (100-Octane 5-Star UK)" this was a mistake; the 2000 SC is rated for 4-star
fuel, 5-star for the TC. On French premium fuel, 4-Star equivalent, the engine
occasionally ran on after a spell in heavy traffic, but there was no pinking and
we had no trouble on British 4-star fuel. Our overall fuel consumption with
quite a lot of the mileage abroad was very similar to that of the previous test
(pre-70 mph limits) at 22.6 mg. High speed 90 mph cruising returned 19 mpg;
generally checks showed around 23-25 mpg and many owners will get nearer 27 mpg.
already said that the clutch is very tolerant, absorbing any shocks that clumsy
feet put into it, but the whole transmission system is good. The small gear
lever sits in just the right place and moves around a precise gate with very
little effort. You can feel the slight obstruction as the synchromesh engages
but when the speeds are synchronized the lever slips forward with the usual
lightness. If you rush the change you can beat the synchromesh, but for normal
motoring it is pleasant to make the changes as smooth as possible, further
helped by the smooth progressive throttle action.
On paper the
ratios may not look very close, but coupled to a useful rev range and high top
gearing they donīt need to be any closer. Youīll never use the top end of third
in this country, and bottom is only just low enough for a clutch dipping getaway
on a 1-in-3 hill.
There was a
little whine from the final drive but not from the gearbox.
Handling and brakes
The Rover was
one of the very few cars in 1963, certainly the only popular one, to feature a
de Dion rear axle. It has more recently been joined by one or two more in this
respect. Its de Dion tube is unusual in that the tube telescopes - rather than
the driveshafts. The tube is well tied down by Watts links and the back of the
car is virtually unstickable in hard cornering even on bumby roads. A hard burst
in second gear on a wet surface can just get the tail sliding but mostly the
grip potential exceeds the power surplus with the SC. As a result understeer is
the predominant characteristic but not to an excessive degree; the steering is
nicely geared and weighted for the open road and the response to it is good,
mostly neutral. As you try harder you have to apply a little more lock, but it
never reaches the stage of feeling that any more lock wonīt make any difference.
It behaves safely and always has something in hand.
On dry roads
the SP Sports squealed if you tried too hard, our only criticism of them, as
they gripped very well in the wet. The message of changing adhesion came up
through the steering wheel before anything irretrievable had happened. In terms
of roadholding the Rover could probably corner as fast as a live axled sports
car, and the Rover wouldnīt need to slow down on bumpy surfaces.
possibly the design of the front suspension that makes the Rover twitch
surprisingly in side winds; the lower wishbone is convetionally transverse but
the upper one is pivoted on the engine bulkhead and runs longitudinally. One
feels that the natural trail of the tyre takes up some of the rubber bush slack
at speed with a transverse wishbone, but that the offset from the upper ball
joint isnīt sufficient to do the same for the upper one, with the result that a
side gust will impart a bit of roll in the car, and the steering in the straight
ahead position isnīt taut enough to make the correction instant. At high speeds
the movements are quite sudden and even at 70 mph the Rover is not good in side
winds although still better than rear engine saloons.
brakes all round give very reassuring performance from little effort with only
40lb needed for 0.97g, but panic braking uses high forces and 75lb returned 1g,
so there is quite a tolerance for maximum braking effort. During our fade test
the pressure required went down as the disc temperature rose, accompanied by
some smell and an occasional grindy noise. A trip through the water splash had
no effect, though. The handbrake provided 0.35g stopping but couldnīt quite hold
the car on a 1-in-3 hill.
Comfort and controls
standards of seven years have certainly not caused downgrading of the Rover in
terms of comfort. The ride is still extremely good - almost on a par with the
Jaguar XJ6. Long, well-damped suspension travel absorbs main road undulations
with real ease and the car stays impressively level with no sideways jerk from
one wheel bumps. It is good on cobbles, too, although there is a fair amount of
tyre patter noise. At town speeds radial thump is surprisingly pronounced. It
appears that the more compliance you build into the suspension the more noise
there is likely to be, unless you insulate the occupants acoustically. You can
hear the Rover low speed thump but not feel it. Compared with the average live
axled car the Rover is considerably more comfortable on all surfaces.
Most of us
like the seats for straight line travelling but the leather surface was too
slippery to help the slightly shaped backrests grip your back; some people found
themselves slipping forward in normal travelling. This really only affects the
front seat passenger - the driver has the steering wheel to hang onto and rear
passengers are well placed by the shaped seat backs. With the front seats
comfortably back an adult in the rear will need to splay or offset his knees
slightly. Rear seat accommodation is good although only for two adults and a
possible child on the hump in the middle. A thoughtful detail is the padding in
the rear panel for sleeping heads to rest against; you can, of course, have
optional headrests for all four seats although we resent the intrusion on
With slightly modified seat
shapes Rover can now incorporate inertia reel seat belts, which are comfortable
and simple to adjust, but they donīt hold the passengerīs shoulders if the
driver is trying hard. Most of us like thr driving position very much but one or
two object to the old-fashioned dangling of the legs, the knees being bent much
more than in most cars. The controls, though, are very comfortably placed. The
gearlever position with its short throw is just right. The pedals are well
spaced and it seems easier now than before to heel and toe. The seats themselves
have a wide range of adjustment fore and aft and the backrests recline via a
friction lock hinge through any number of positions. The steering column has a
single-locking clamp which allow limited teleskopic and vertical movements,
ample though for any driver to find a good seating position.
With the seats well off the floor
the view forward over the fall-away bonnet is very good; screen pillars arenīt
too thick and the door pillar is thin and well back so traffic visibility is
good. You can also see the little fins at the back for reversing; a nice feature
of Rovers has been the sidelight tell-tales and these are useful aiming marks
for navigation through small gaps.
With 150 watts available with all
four headlights the main beam is good in spread and range, but the 100 watt
dipped beam is a little ill-defined as well as being liable to dazzle if the car
is fully laden, the suspension travel being great enough to require some instant
adjustment as on some Continentals. With the tail well down the mirrorīs image
is chopped off rather too close to the tail of the car for comfortable motorway
cruising abroad - the DS 21s come up fast.
The new wiper switch has three
settings, low and high speed plus a delayed action position, and you control the
delay time by a little white rheostat button on the steering column surround;
the blades leave a slight blind spot in the top right corner which taller people
We used to think the Roverīs
ventilation system was one of the best in that the outlet points straight
towards the front occupantsī faces, but the throughout seems to have diminished
since the early models; perhaps the sealing has been improved. In fact there is
little ram effect with the temperature setting on hot; the more convoluted
passage seems to choke the throughput and you need the three-speed fan unless
the setting is on cold. But the system is versatile enough to get the right
climate. The heated rear screen is an optional extra.
Much of the Roverīs appeal lies
in its general insulation from the outside world and this includes noise. At
speed there is little engine noise and wind noise is low, so long distance
travelling is effortless with an 85-90 mph cruising gait.
Fittings and furniture
The 2000 SC retains the original
eye-level grille instrument nacelle with a full width strip speedometer, plenty
of warning lights and gauges for water temperature and fuel. This is a
convenient layout which is easily visible through the top half of the two-spoke
steering wheel. A useful auxiliary which used to be a feature of older cars is
the petrol reserve tap; it is easy enough to watch the fuel gauge but is useful
to know that you can manage another 30 to 40 miles when the engine first coughs.
A separate two-position switch controls the map-light and the central interior
Oddment space is provided with
two shallow glove lockers and if you arenīt going to corner quickly the parcel
shelf can be used for maps etc. With the spare wheel vertical in the left rear
wing boot space is slightly limited.
Our test car was fitted with
leather seat facings at an extra cost of Ģ74 7s 3d, which give the right sort of
smell for Rovers at the expense of slightly slippery seats; you can specify
Ambla. The floor is carpeted as is the boot.
Servicing and maintenance
A comprehensive tool kit is
supplied with the Rover, enough really to do most of your own servicing. There
is no grease gun for the only point which needs attention - the sliding joint on
the prop-shaft. This is necessary despite the chassis mounted differential to
absorb compliance of the various rubber mountings in engine and transmission.
Servicing is required every 5.000 miles and everything on the engine is nicely
0-60 mph 13.6 sec
top speed 98.3 mph
overall fuel consumption 22.6 mpg
Motor / UK