THE EUROPEAN COMPETITION
When we compare the SD1 to the European competition these cars are seen as the competition; Volvo 244DL, SAAB 99GL, AUDI 100LS, CITROEN CX2400 PALLAS and the Renault 30TS. You could add some others to this like the BMW 5 series, Peugeot 504 and the Ford Granada.
The first step was to ask why customers requiring reliability above all should view a European make - in particular Volvo, Saab and Audi- as being most likely to meet their needs. Some possible answers are offered below.
- Reliability was a customer requirement, it was not an opinion expressed after owning the car. So this requirement was based upon the cars perceived reliability - that is, features of the car which made it look reliable.
- There are many features on some model ranges which contribute to this impression. To name but a few: Saab's defrosting techniques; Volvo's headlamp wipers and heated driver's seat: Audi's safety cage.
- A great many of these features are mandatory requirements in the manufacturer's country; in addition, the extreme weather conditions demand safety features capable of dealing with below-freezing temperatures, months of ice and snow, and then months of salt-covered, frost damaged roads.
- These are hardly the weather conditions typical of the British climate. Nevertheless, these features, however much they exaggerate the needs of the British car buyer, give European models a powerful appeal - they look very reliable.
This brings us to another question. What actually is RELIABILITY? Is it the ability to defrost a car in 10 degrees below zero, or is it rather more than that ? We think it is comprised of :
1) Mechanical Reliability - long life of engine and components without the need for attention between services.
2) Structural Reliability construction in accordance with all European safety requirements, durability, in terms of long body-life and resistance to corrosion.
3) Functional Reliability - the ability to maintain optimum levels of driver/passenger comfort and safety in terms of fittings and equipment.
Following that we look in more detail at the competitors starting with those challenged by the new Rover 2300.
Leyland cars design policy has tended to meet, and go beyond, legal requirements before they were thought of.
ROVER 2300 versus VOLVO 244DL
VOLVO 244DL: QUALITY - SAFETY - COMFORT
Of all these competitors the Volvo most of all embodies the powerful 'reliability' appeal we have already discussed. We know from the Rover 3500 car clinic that Volvo owners value, apart from reliability, quality, safety and comfort; we also know that Volvo owners maintain a high loyalty to the marque. However, it was found in the six-cylinder car clinic that Volvo owners showed an encouragingly high level of interes in the new six-cylinders. We can infer from this that the buyers who have made Volvo one of the market leaders in this sector are prepared to change their loyalties when they see a car which offers all, and more, of what they are looking for.
ROVER: ROOMINESS, RIDE, PERFORMANCE
Roominess is not a subject to tackle lightly when talking about Volvo, but it should be remembered that Rover offers Estate versatility and extra space at no extra cost - an important point because 44% of Volvo's business is Estates. In terms of passenger space too Rover gives slightly better headroom front and rear, and better front leg room. (Autocer commented in a Volvo road test that mar headroom was 'surprisingly - only just sufficient.')
MacPherson-strut front suspension is shared by both models ; Rover has of course the inherent advantages of a low, raked profile combined with wide track and the rear suspension with its transverse Watts linkage giving better control and reduction of lateral movement, hence superb cornering and road adhesion.
Probably the biggest single advantage of the 2300 is its powerful six-cylinder engine compared with Volvo's 4-cylinder OHC unit. In terms of figures this knocks nearly two seconds off the 0-60 time; but more important advantages are its competitiveness In terms of tractability - higher torque is developed at low revs., giving the ability to pull well at low speeds. This combines with the quietness afforded by six-cylinders and sleek styling, to give Rover a conclusive overall advantage.
ROVER 2300 versus AUDI 100LS
AUDI: STYLE AND SPACIOUSNESS
Audi's aerodynamic styling, while not apparently over helpful on fuel economy does contribute to the cars tremendous straight-line stability and to the other safety features of the car, including the well-known self correcting steering/brake system. In terms of passenger space it is spacious and about comparable with Rover.
Interior styling of the Audi has been the theme of much advertisment and the car does indeed offer a very well comfortable, well designed environment for the driver and passengers. An immensly powerfull heater with an 8 kw output is fitted; however "MOTOR" found it impossible to have warm feet and a cool face. The level of specifications if high, we have given the most distinctive features in the opposite column, as they are belong there too.
ROVER STYLE AND SPACIOUSNESS
Rover's styling gives it an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.395. As well as the stability and safe handling, enhanced by the wide track, Rover's style affords all the versatility of the 5 door configuration.
Comparable levels of specifications are illustrated by the 3 speed heater/blower with 4 fascia air vents, lockable gloveboxes, lockable petrol flap and internally adjustable driver's door mirror.
In addition the Rover offers a twin speaker radio, adjustable steering column, rear compartment heating and side window demisters.
There can be no doubt that Audi offers a serious challenge as a highly sophisticated safe and stylish car. There are, however, certain drawbacks such as noise levels, loadspace versatility and overall level of interior luxury where the Rover is revealed as the more refined product of the two.
ROVER 2300 versus CITROEN CX PALLAS
CITROEN CX2400 PALLAS: STYLE — COMFORT — ECONOMY
The new Rovers probably compare more directly with Citroen than with any other cars in terms of styling; many visitors to the Rover 3500 car clinic, at the time ignorant of the identity of the 3500, attributed it to Citroen. At first glance the obvious streamlined aerodynamics of the two models can easily lead to this kind of comparison; at that time of course, no one had looked under the bonnet. n the case of the 2600 the same applies; the real differences and the real advantages go beyond appearances
The smaller power unit of the 2400 offers a torque figure of 135 lb. ft. and 0-60 acceleration 1.1 seconds slower than the 2600. In the final analysis, engine size and refinement are the conclusive advantages of the 2600 over its highly sophisticated competitor; low noise levels are enhanced by the quietness of six-cylinder motoring; and superior torque of 152 lb. ft. testifies to the greater tractability and toughness of a better engine in a better car.
ROVER 2600 versus RENAULT 30TS
RENAULT 30TS PERFORMANCE — COMFORT— BOOT SPACE
For a buyer looking for an import in the same class as the 2600, he could not choose a more directly comparable model than the Renault 30TS. Most of all, these models compare very closely in the aspects featuring as major customer requirements. Both are notably high-performance cars, with a high level of luxury, and featuring the same hatchback configuration. Faced with these similarities, we still have to look for points whi h constitute not only Rover's equality, but its superiority, if we want Renault customers to buy British.
Finally, we can isolate advantages of refinement and quality in several more areas; first of all, the 2600 features more comprehensive rust-proofing measures (pressure ventilated sills), more advanced safety techniques (10/20 windscreen), and the more aerodynamic style gives a quieter ride (Motor complained of wind noise at high speed and also of the Renault's noisy ventilation and wipers). Our final point relates to all the imports we have discussed. As you will know, there is no equivalent of Supercover in terms of length and cover of warranty. In choosing Rover over Renault the owner is saving both cash (generally, imported parts cost considerably more) and time by having easy access to one of Leyland's outlets (nearly 2500).
ROVER 2600 versus FORD GRANADA 2.8 GL
NEW GRANADA 2.8GL VALUE FOR MONEY — SPACIOUSNESS — PERFORMANCE
At the time of going to press information has only just become vailable on the new Granada, and the preferred aspects shown above relate to this new model. Whether or not the new range is what Granada owners have been waiting for remains to be seen altough we do not intend to ignore Ford's own emphasis on engineering and styling. We do know that at the car clinic, owners of the former model were particularly highly attracted to the new Rovers.
The new Grenada 2.8GL is a better engineered, better styled car than the 3000GL, and the whole package has been upgraded in a serious attempt to move up-market in this sector. Better engineering has introduced gas-filled shock absorbers, although these still do not compare with Rover's unique self-levelling suspension system: better styling has apparently reduced the wind resistance of the former Granada by 3% (Rover's is second only to Citroen). Howeyer, the final word, uniquely associated with Rover, is Quality; and this is reflected in every aspect of the 2600, from the sleek, prestigious styling to the rugged bottom-end durability of the engine