A Triumph Comparison
THE Triumph Acclaim, that well-stirred BL / Honda pudding, represents British Leyland’s desperate interim hope in the family-car market, so merits a few more words about it. I tried it in top-model CD form, but this differs from the HL and HLS models in equipment only, not mechanically, all being 4-door, front-drive, transverse-engined saloons.
The Acclaim does most things well and smoothly. Acceleration is very good until speed rises beyond 50 m.p.h. after which the 5-speed gearbox has to be used liberally to achieve a reasonable performance. The alloy-head, o.h.c., 1,335 c.c. Honda-motor develops 70 (DIN) b.h.p. at 5,750 r.p.m. and 74 lb.ft., torque at 3,500 r.p.m. which is sufficient until hills are encountered, especially if the car is fully laden, when performance suffers and the flat-spot in the twin side-draught Keihin carburation can aggravate matters. The Acclaim really needs the 1,488 c.c. Ballade engine. Nevertheless, through the gears to 60 m.p.h. from rest takes only 12.9 sec., better than many rival cars, even those with 1.6-litre engines, although the 1.3S Ford Fiesta is fractionally quicker; so the ordinary driver will consider the Acclaim a brisk car.
Top speed is about 92 m.p.h., but more important is the economy gearing. At 70 m.p.h. in top, engine speed is 4,210 r.p.m. but changing into overdrive-5th gear reduces this to 3,533 r.p.m. and is a palliative to the thrummy engine note. With average-fast-plus-commuter driving I got an excellent 35.6 m.p.g. of two-star petrol. The fuel tank holds ten gallons. The light weight of the Acclaim helps this economy but the interior is not exactly roomy. Back-seat occupants complained of cramp and the boot, too, is deep but too shallow. Although the Triumph Acclaim out-performs the 1,298 c.c. Dolomite it replaces and equals the Dolomite 1850 from 0-60 m.p.h., it has a wheelbase shorter by 5.32″, is 1.2″ lower, but 1.25″ wider.
The Acclaim’s manual, rack-and-pinion steering is pleasantly light, likewise the clutch, the gear-change is quick and fairly nice, and there are no serious f.w.d. shortcomings, apart from transmission-snatch, mostly if opened up from cold or in too high a gear. The interior is nicely upholstered in tweed, even to the door panels, the driver’s seat is reasonably comfortable, with the squab-angle lever-adjusted, detail work is good, and the heater is very effective, with pictorial settings-indications and a three-speed fan, and the instrument-panel, with tachometer (red-lined from 6,000-7,000 r.p.m.), speedometer, heat and fuel gauges and ten warning lights, is extremely visible. The fuel gauge is steady-reading but there is no low-level warning-light. Of the two well-contrived stalk-controls, the short I.h. one is for wipers, the r.h. one for turn-indicators and lamps, with a flasher knob on its extremity. The steering-wheel pad presses in to sound a horn which could have come from a Honda motorcycle. The Japanese Stanley headlamps give an excellent light.
There are some very acceptable conveniences, such as a knob to quickly get recirculatory ventilation, plenty of adjustable air vents, under-fascia fuses located by the driver’s right knee with quickly-detachable cover, release of fuel-filler flap and boot-lid from two levers easily reached by the driver on the r.h. side of the floor, and the light boot-lid is easy to open, using the number-plate recess, and the carpeted boot has a remotely-placed lock. More stowages are wanted, however, only an unlockable deep cubby, a I.h. shelf useful for picnic cups, and a lidded coin-box being available to the driver, although the rear-seat occupants have two map-pockets. A non-dazzle jeco quartz digital dashboard clock is provided and the CD Acclaim has electric windows, with a protruding main switch-panel on the driver’s door, but it lacks autochoke, central-locking, or a sun-roof. The manual choke required some juggling with for cold-weather starting. The compact build of the car is emphasised by a low roof. Both external mirrors are internally-adjustable and, unusual for a car of this type, the headlamps-beam height is also adjustable from a three-position knob on the central console. The ride and handling, in spite of BL having revised the coil-spring-strut all-round independent-suspension, is only average. The disc-drum brakes are light and progressive.
In appearance, the Acclaim, with its square lines, heavy bumpers and gaps under the wheel-arches and the Michelin XZX-shod 13″ wheels, tended to remind me of a little shunting loco. Although laurel-wreathed Triumph badges are displayed, the Oriental give-away is seen in the Nippon Seiki instruments, etc. Perhaps significantly, there is absolutely no reference to Japanese engineering or styling in the persuasive BL colour catalogue. The front-hinged, self-supporting bonnet has a convenient r.h. release and the fillers, and dip-stick, are accessible, apart from two cables obstructing the oil-filler. There are some untidy welds under the bonnet and within the boot but door-“keeps”, sun-vizors, door handles, neat roof aerial, etc., are nicely contrived.
Those who feel they are being patriotic by buying an Acclaim should compare price, which start at £4,829, the CD model being priced at £5,742 or at £6,053 with automatic transmission. WE.
The latest Rover VdP
THE 31/2-litre vee-eight 155 b.h.p. Rover in top-model Vanden Plas (five-door) form is the personification of British dignity, allied to well over 120 m.p.h. and very effective acceleration when called for. We have previously dealt with the cosmetic changes in the newest version, over those of the car I tested last year, most prominent of which are the front air-dam and wider rear window. This now has wipe / wash but reversing is still better done by skilled chauffeurs. The new burr-walnut interior trim fits this model very well, especially with Connolly leather upholstery, and the changed fascia layout is an improvement, even though the speedometer has no 40 or 60 m.p.h. figures, its dial is too closely calibrated and the voltmeter has been deleted. However, the instruments are easy to read, normally showing 30-45 lb. / sq. in. oil pressure and 95°C temperature.
I was sorry to find the turn indicators (and horn) controlled on the latest model by the l.h. of the two steering column stalks, which seems wrong on a r.h.d. car, and the heater, very warming, was somewhat sensitive to set. Otherwise, nothing but enthusiasm for this fine, fast, conveniently-contrived car which has a sun-roof, electric windows, cruise-control, computer read-out, etc. Fuel consumption averaged 22.1 m.p.g., with 20.8 m.p.g. during averagely quick motoring — about the same as from the old 3500A. Over a big mileage the computer averaged it out at 21.2 m.p.g. I like the Big Rover, essentially a relaxed car, the price of which in VdP form, is £14,787 with automatic transmission. It is also pleasing that the old Rover P4 tradition of one bodyshell taking different engines is continued, the choice now being 2-litre “four”, 2.3 and 2.6 “sixes” or the light-alloy 31/2-litre “vee-eight”. — W.B.
JUST a few weeks after the launch of the new series of Rovers, BL announced a “new five-door hatchback saloon”, called the Ambassador, to replace the Princess. BL claim extremely low running costs, with 12,000-mile service intervals, for this skilfully re-vamped Princess.
Hydragas suspension is retained, the rear of the body has been altered to accommodate the hatchback and there is a new bonnet. With new exterior trim, lamp clusters and so on, the appearance from front or rear is quite different, but in profile, the parentage is obvious. Trim and fascia are revised. The 2.2-litre engine option has been dropped favour of the 1.7-litre and 2.0-litre “0” series engines. Different trim levels combine with the engine options to gives five-model range:—
2.0 Vanden Plan (twin carbumtters) £7,765
2.0 HLS (twin carburetters) £6,917
2.0 HL £6,108
1.7 HL £5,793
After a brief drive recently, we were impressed with the quality of the trim and paintwork and found the smaller engined versions rather smoother than their more powerful brethren. The ride, handling and steering have all been improved. — P.H.J.W.