Rover 2200 TC
Citroen D Super
In their own
way, both the Citroen D Super 5 and the Rover 2200 TC are, curiously enough,
victims of themselves. Time and progress has not been specially kind to either
of them, but the fact remains that they continue to be successful, to evolve, to
move if not with the minute hand then at least with the solid old hour hand.
Both have been
around so long that they have no need to prove anything, not anymore. Their very
presence makes the point eloquently enough. When the Citroen D series started
life back in the mid-fifties it was a radical design even by French standards.
Today it is still radical by the measuring impliments of the seventies. On the
other hand the small Rover could never have been described as radical, even by
its greatest supporters back some 10 years ago when the car made its debut.
Unusual solutions to problems certainly, but nothing radical.
been more daring with the D series, having expanded both the engine sizes and
the body shapes, to say nothing ogf trim and price. The French firm catalogues
an imposing list of alternatives to tempt the customer, including the Safari
estate car and, by a stretch of imagination, the SM. Roverīs policy has been
more conservative. Single carburettor engine, twin carburettor engine, automatic
option for the SC, then V8 power with automatic only, gollowed by V8 with
manual. No body variations, though, just mechanical ones. Now the 2000 has been
given a 10 per cent increase in engine capacity, more to guarantee the productsī
acceptability under the European emmision laws than to motivate new buyers.
With the demise
of the 3.5 Litre saloon, the small-bodied models are alone holding the banner
for Rover, at least until such times as BL announces the long awaited, more
encompassing big car. There is, however, no immediate possibility of canning the
2200/3500 series; after all, who in his right mind would halt the product of a
range of vehicles that continues to attract a waiting list of customers?
For at least
the last eight years the air has been thick with rumours of how Citroen were
about to replace the D series; but so far Citroen have quietly strengthened the
position of the model with calm, considered changes carried out because the
engineering team found how the make something work better.
Rover are less
into the options game than Citroen, however. A basic D Super costs ₤2029, but
the addition of various non-essential (like swivelling lamps) but nevertheless
very desirable extras quickly boosts this figure up to close on that of the
Rover 2200 TCīs ₤2239.
the cylinder bores from 86mm to 90mm, Rover have increased the cubic capacity of
their four cylinder engine from 1978cc to 2204cc, resulting in an increase in
power and torque despite the fact that the TCīs compression ratio has been
lowered from 10 to one to 9,0 to one. In its newest form, the TC develops 115
bhp at 5000 rpm with 135lb/ft or torque at 3000 rpm against the old modelīs
109.5 bhp at 5500 rpm and 124lb/ft at 3500 rpm. As before a pair of SU
carburettors is employed, along with a single overhead camshaft atop the heron
head. To help with the emission control, there is a thermostatically-controlled
hot/cold intake incorporated in the air cleaner.
The four speed
gearbox has been strengthened to cope with the extra torque and to avoid a
repetition of the transmission troubles that afflicted early 2000s. With that
goes the four-pinion differential of the type used in the 3500 (was previously
two-pinion). The drive train leads to a de Dion rear axle with fixed lenght
drive shafts; location is achieved with a Watts linkage and training links. At
the front horizontal coil springs with traverse bottom links and leading top
links, complete the suspension.
smaller than the TCīs new engine, the D Super dipslaces 2175cc from a bore of
90mm and a stroke of 85,5mm. Its four cylinders are capped with a pushrod
cylinder head which uses a fairly normal crossover arangement to achieve near
hemispherical combustion chambers. Itīs not a high revver either; peak power,
106 bhp occurs at 5500 rpm. At 8,75 to one, the compression ratio is not high,
but like the TC it prefers four star petrol. You get the impression that the
Citroen engine is understressed compared with the Rover and the power and torque
figures bear this out; the D Super use a single carburettor, incidently.
Of course, the
Citroen is front driven. The drive is taken out the front of the engine and into
a five-speed manual gearbox which protrudes well forward, thence through a
conventional diff to the wheels. Suspension is typical of the breed with
self-levelling hydropneumatic units providing independent springing all round,
essentially the same as that in all other Citroens. Included in its
specification is the usual manual heugh adjustment for extra terrain clearance
and to help when changing a wheel. As with the Rover, the Citroenīs suspension
has remained largely unaltered during the course of its evolution, providing the
basic rightness of the design as every year goes past.
Worm and roller
steering is employed in the Rover and itīs rather low geared, needing 3.75 lock
to lock for a 35ft circle. Happily, the steering is light and certainly does not
require power assistance although it should be noted that itīs pretty handy in
the much heavier 3500 version. Power steering for the Citroen, however, is just
about essential. The combination of 185-15 radials (Michelin XAS, of course)
high gearing and front drive strive to defeat the efforts of those who are weak
of limb. The turning circle is a foot larger than the Roverīs, although it seems
more, and needs only three turns lock to lock. The power steering adds ₤78 to
the price, and most D Citroens come in with it, the assistance comes from a
central hydraulic system.
inboard discs on the front and conventional drums on the rear, activated by that
small push-button on the floor, so often mistaken for the dip-switch by people
who think conventionally. The Roverīs brakes are all disc, those at the rear
being inboard, and the system is servo-assisted.
employ blot-on body panels which simplify crash damage and repairs, although
insurance companies seem to ignore this in their assessments.
Neither car has
much acceleration in the accepted sense. They are quite lively, though, as long
as you remember to keep the power units working around the point of maximum
torque. The virtue of big fours is their lugging power; perhaps that is the
thing at which these cars are best. There are times, in the Rover particularly,
when you can almost count the revolutions.
manages to exploit its performance better than the TC. The reason is inherent in
the aerodynamics of the D series: the sharpe shape allows the car to cut through
the air very cleanly and thus enables the engine to pull a high top gear quite
comfortably. Thus, the D Super can be persuaded to cruise at around 115 mph with
the possibility of building this up to 120 mph on slight downhill runs, while
the other four speeds in the box have fairly good ratios that give you the
choice of either stirring them for performance or pottering, say, in fourth and
power available at 5500 rpm there is little incentive to try for more revs than
that. Never smooth, the engine feels a churny as the tacho climbs towards the
red band; not fragile mind you, just lumpy like an old engine that has passed
through the development mill a number of times.
rather much to the TC, too. The long history of the ohc four-cylinder Rover
engine has failed to produce a smooth result, partly due to the fact that it
employs a flat head surface with the combustion chambers in the piston crowns.
The power comes at 5000 rpm and the red line is at 6000, but like the Citroen
there is little incentive to aim for the peak. For one thing the power drops off
rapidly and for another feels too lumpy. Gearing is somewhat lower than the
Citroenīs and the shape mitigates against reaching the red line in top.
Nevertheless, the TC will steam along quite happily at 100 to 105 mph, and its
acceleration up to 60 and 70 mph is relatively brisk and assuring. Lacking the
opportunity of having five speeds like the Citroen, Rover have opted to keep
their intermediate ratios high and this works quite well.
In top the
Citroen gives 20.2 mph per 1000 rpm and the Rover 19.7 mph per 1000 rpm. Yet it
is the Rover that does better in terms of fuel consumption. You donīt have to
try particularly hard to get 27-28 mpg, but the Citroenīs figure in the same
conditions tends to be more in the 24-26 mpg region. Is it, we wonder, that the
Citroen invites harder driving? The Rover now sips from a 15 gallon fuel tank
(it was only 12), whereas the Citroen needs 14.3 gallons to fill its task.
There is almost
none for either. Far better in the case of the Rover to put your money down to a
3500 S and stand in the long line of people who got in before you.
Alternatively, a competent tuning house should be able to clean up the manifolds
and ports with a consequent gain in general smoothness and running efficiency.
Much the same
applies to the Citroen really. The DS 23 with its larger capacity engine makes
more sense than fiddling with the existing unit, and the DS 23 has a fuel
injection option as well. Or you can pay more than twice as much and have the
Maserati V6 powered Citroen SM.
In other words,
donīt meddle with either the Rover or the Citroen engine if you are in search of
more power. There are no bolt-on goodies for either so the search for a few
extra horses could be as frustrating as it is expensive.
The Citroen is
a specialised car that requires the attention of Citroen dealers. If it is
serviced badly or incorrectly or not at all, then itīs reasonable to expect that
it will give more trouble in its life than a neglected Ford Escort, for
instance. But then a Citroen gives you more in return, so its a reasonably fair
exchange. Spare parts are quite costly, too, but there is no shortage of them
and the dealer network is reasonably strong.
But not as
strong as Roverīs. Being a British Leyland division, the service net is cast
wide, and the car itself is reasonably simple to work on. The spare parts system
is not great though, and we know of some people who have encountered long delays
in getting parts. Like the Citroen, the Rover does need quite careful care and
attention to get the best out of the vehicle in the long term and inevitably
that entails servicing that is more costly than for conventional cars. The
Citroen needs a service every 3000 miles, while the Rover should have attention
at 6000 miles.
Handling, steering, brakes
Rover. It is essentially a conventional car and its road behaviour reflects
this. The steering, although not as precise or as nice as rack and pinion is
nevertheless quite accurate at the expense of feeling rather dead.
how you set the car up for a corner, it will either understeer strongly and feel
a bit clumsy, or it will track very neatly and finally break away at the rear.
In the natural course of events it likes to be powered through corners and when
it is there is a lot of roadholding and a fair bit of body roll as well. Finally
the rear-end slides fairly abruptly but responds to correction quickly and
approaching enterprising driving, you can get the Rover around the countryside
quickly and esily, its compact dimensions provided little handicap on narrow
roads. In other words, itīs hard to do it wrong in the Rover; itīs forgiving,
safe, sure. We were less enthusiastic about the brakes. The pedal was light
enough, but it felt spongy and was not too consistent in its movement. Not that
this stopped the anchors from working effectively for they were able to bring
the car to an unspectacular halt from any speed.
Of course, the
Citroen presents rather a different brake picture. Its high pressure hydraulics
require only a gentle dab, a caress, of the brake button to stop the car; the
trock is to do it just right, specially on slippery surface where wheel locking
can be a problem for the unwary. Once mastered, the Citroenīs brakes work
superbly in bringing the car to a fast, positive halt with no fade and no drama.
Itīs the size
of the Citroen that can intimidate the driver on narrow roads. It feels and it
is quite a lot longer than the Rover; the long snout is mostly out of sight, so
you must always allow for several feet of unseen shovel nose.
inevitably an element of initial concern when driving a Citroen because it feels
strange: Will we inadvertendly put the brakes on too hard? Will we forget the
nose and shunt some Mini in the bum? Will we ever come to grips with the
steering? It takes maybe 10 miles to get the message and after that you adjust
to the non-conformist aspects of the design. Steering is very sensitive and very
responsive. If you move the wheel the car changes direction immediately; no
waiting for the message to be passed, no nonsense, just action. All of which
gives the Citroen incredible swervability in emergencies. You can be out of a
crisis situation on steering alone before most cars have even begun to change
direction. The Citroenīs high speed stability is superior to Roverīs. Whereas
the French car will maintain its course through thick and thin, the Rover is
prone to moving about in crosswinds.
As you would
expect, the Citroen is an understeerer. Normally it remains neutral, but gets
progressively more understeer the further you go beyond the realm of steady
driving. The actual level of roadholding is high and even when the ragged edge
of understeer is reached, adjustments to the power settings retrieve the
situation. Body roll is at roughly the same level as it is in the Rover. Of the
two, the Rover is more fun to drive because it is compact and more chuckable as
a result. Conversely, the Citroen is in a different category for it allows you
to explore areas not available in conventional cars.
unique suspension gives it a better ride overall than that provided by the
Roverīs system. Yet the Citroen is not perfect. It has a marked dislike for
sudden humps, which confuse the suspension no end, and there is also more radial
thump over cateyes than in the TC. But the Rover generates more road noise than
the Citroen which is remarkably good in this area. Nevertheless, both cars are
extremely capable vehicles that will tackle virtually any kind of road surface
confidently. Only on really hard bumps was the Rover noisy in the suspension,
and that did not come from bottoming so much as the normal operation of the
Neither car is
quiet at speed. There is quite a lot of mechanical noise from the Citroenīs
engine over 110 mph about the same amount, in fact, that you encounter in the
Rover at 100. The test Rover had a wind noise problem around the driverīs door,
but it seemed to be more an individual fault than an inherent one. Air-induced
noise in the Citroen was lower than the Rover, but its fresh-air ventilation
system, although commendably efficient, was rowdy at speed; the TCīs does not
pass the quantity of air and was quieter.
We prefer the
Citroenīs seats and driving position. The dimensions of the seats are greater,
the upholstery softer and the cushions higher off the floor so you tend to put
your feet down onto the pedals rather than having to stretch out to them. Both
cars we tested had the cloth trim thatīs a ₤30 option in the D Super, but a
standard alternative to leather in the Rover. We liked the friction lock
backrest adjustment on the Rover over the Citroenīs more conventional
arrangement, but found that the TCīs seats lacked back support over long
distances; shorter people may have been better off than our six-footers. Even
with the latest modifications on the seats the Rover is still a small car
inside, capable of carrying only four people at best and then with some
sacrifices needed to ensure that those in the back have enough legroom.
Conversely, the Citroen really will carry five poeple with a huge amount of
legroom and has no intrusive transmission tunnel.
accommodation is much better in the Rover than in the Citroen, the former having
those two angled bins under the fascia that are so convenient and capacious,
plus the wide fascia shelf itself. The Citroen has a few pockets and a smaller
glovebox in front of the passenger, but makes up for this by having a much
larger luggage boot than the TC. The Roverīs spare wheel can be accommodated on
the boot lid if necessary. The D Superīs spare is under the bonnet, in the nose
of the car.
designed and laid out, the Citroen is more comfortable than the Rover in most
respects, although the compactness of the British car is an attraction in
itself, specially since the Citroen often feels wide, long and rather awkward to
The Rover wins
hands down on instrument quantity, listing on its fascia a speedo, tacho, and
dials for temperature, amps, fuel contens and oil pressure, all neat white on
black faces directly behind the absolutely large but admittedly adjustable
array, the Citroen appears almost casual. It has a matching speedometer and
tacho, a fuel gauge that was still saying a little under a quarter full when the
tank ran dry on a Belgian autobahn, and a circular bank of lights that couples
the three major failure elements (hydraulics, temperature, oil pressure) to a
glaring stop sign that leaves no doubt as to what you should do next. The
panel takes away the need to scan the instruments.
The Rover works
its wash/wipe and lighting systems from central fascia control knobs, with the
winkers, flashers, horn and dip operating through steering column stalks.
Citroen opt for lighting, wash/wipe, dip, horn, winkers and flashers to be
worked by column stalks, leaving only the minor switchgear on the fascia itself.
Both the French and british approach work commendably well with no problems;
itīs worth pointing out that Citroen do not believe in self-cancelling winkers.
oddities are the single-spoke steering wheel and the brake button on the floor.
They take time to get used to, but once mastered are perfectly satisfactory.
Unusually, the Citroen has a steering column gearchange that leaves the front
floor completely clear of hardware, the handbrake being under the fascia on the
right hand side. The gear pattern is conventional, fifth being the odd one out,
is on the same plane as reverse and protected by spring pressure. A floor change
as nice as the SMīs would have been better, but the column lever worked very
Nor can any
complaint be levelled at the Rover. As we said before, the steering wheel is too
big, but its rake can be altered by releasing a friction nut. Floor mounted, the
gearchange is smooth and positive with short movements from one ratio to the
next; reverse is locked out with a collar on the lever itself, and the handbrake
is between the seats.
These are a
pair of horses for courses. Around town the Rover TC offers quite real
advantages over the substantially larger Citroen but loses what it picks almost
at once because it is small inside.
Rover is a fast cruiser, too, with better fuel consumption and a greater
cruising range than the Citroen, the latter is more comfortable over long
distances and feels less of a disgruntled slave mechanically when you are trying
to put lots of miles into the day. And the five speed gearbox gives a good
spread of ratios for difficult conditions too.
We would be
happier with the Citroen than the Rover for carrying people and luggage fast
over long distances. Yet the Rover is nippier in traffic and offers rather
traditional creature comforts with lots of attention to detail fittings. Itīs
almost to the point of lossing a coin, but we would hope that it came down on
the side daying D Super.