Rover 3500 S
Manual box transforms
the spring of 1968, the Rover "Three-thousand-five" has hitherto been available
only in automatic form. While admirably suited to leisurely driving and city
work, there is no denying that the associated torque convertor imposes
significant penalties in terms of flatout performance. A favourable power-weight
ratio helps to offset this, but there were many who longed for a manual option.
To meet this demand, Rover have developed the 3500 S. The results surpass all
expectations. In this guise, the Three-thousand-five is more than a match for
its competitions, both British and foreign.
the 3500 S is a straightforward adaptation of the existing 3500. The gearbox, a
development of that used in the 2000 and 2000 TC, has a strengthened and finned
case. Oil capacity has been more than doubled and a pump, driven off the rear of
the layshaft, provides positive lubrication for gears and bearings. Torque
capacity is further enhanced by the use of taper-roller (instead of
needle-roller) layshaft bearings. Gears are shot-peened to improve resistance to
fatigue. Another refinement - one shared by current four-cylinder models - is a
remote-control change mechanism integral with the gearbox cover.
revised bell-housing calls for a new exhaust system, the opportunity has been
taken to increase its bore and re-locate the junction of the down-pipes. The
result is a reduced back-pressure and a slight gain in peak power. The 3500
automatic retains the earlier system!
with the automatic version, the 3500 S has SU carburettors of improved design.
Designated HIF 6 (Horizontal Integral Float-chamber), these provide more stable
carburation during conditions of hard acceleration, cornering and braking.
Cold-starting is also said to be improved.
significant economy concerns upholstery. This is box-pleated Ambla, whereas the
3500 is upholstered in leather. The latter is, however, available at extra cost.
There is a
number of detail changes, some applicable to the 3500 and other models. These
will be dealt with under the appropriate heading.
Ģ1988.13 (including inertia-reel belts and purchase tax), the 3500 S undercuts
the 3500 by Ģ81.24.
Thanks to the
use of aluminium alloy for the block and heads, Roverīs vee-eight is deceptively
light. As a result, the 3500 S scales a realistic 26.6 cwt - 1.2 cwt more than
the 2000 TC tested earlier in the year. It is interesting to note that the 3500
tested last autumn weighed almost precisely the same, making performance
comparisons particularly revealing.
thing that impresses is the engineīs eager response to the throttle. Relieved of
the sobering influence of a torque converter, it has assumed a decidedly
sporting character. Even so, it has lost none of its silky smoothness and
amply fulfils this early promise. Top speed averaged 122 mph, with a staggering
125 mph coming up in the faster direction (just entering the red on the
dead-accurate tachometer). The mileometer also proved spot-on, as did the
speedometer over most of its range.
is equally impressive. 60 mph coming up in only 9.1 sec. from rest. The standing
quarter-mile is covered in 16.8 sec. with the "ton" coming up in comfortably
under half-a-minute. Of equal importance is the engineīs excellent mid-range
performance. As an example, 50-70 mph in top takes only 8.3 sec. - more than 4
sec. better than the 2000 TC and nearly 2 sec. ahead of the fastest model in the
comparison group. Even more impressive is a 10-30 mph time of 10.1 sec.
especially when remembering that the lower speed represents a mere 400 rpm! This
it achieves without the slightest sign of distress.
the modelīs high-speed capabilities, 100 mph represents an entirely realistic
cruising speed. There is marked freedom from mechanical fuss, but wind noise is
somewhat disappointing above the 80 mph mark.
performance has not been achieved at the expense of economy. Over the
1000-mile-plus test period, consumption averaged 20.1 mpg. Driving moderately,
we had no difficulty in bettering the calculated (DIN) touring figure of 22.5
mpg. It is, however, necessary to use Super Premium (5-star) quality.
is a useful 15 gal. including a 2.5 gal. reserve which can be brought into play
from within the car. This gives a potential range of over 300 miles. A locking
filler cap is standard equipment, but we would like to see a larger-diameter
had to be replenished at the rate of a pint per 500 miles. The dipstick is very
accessible, the oil filler cap a little less so (due to the proximity of a
crankcase ventilator flame-trap).
Ride and handling
been no changes to the Three-thousand-fiveīs suspension. It provides a high
degree of ride comfort, but is inclined to transmit a fair amount of tyre hum
over rippled surfaces. There is also some hump-thumping, but not enough to cause
concern. Overall, the degree of insulation is in keeping with the carīs air of
Variamatic power steering (an optional extra) was fitted to the test car. With
it goes a smaler-diameter (16 in.) leather-rimmed wheel. The design features
moderately low gearing around straight-ahead with a progressive decrease in
velocity ratio towards locks. This avoids undue sensitivity to small steering
movements without sacrifice of overall response. It works very well, but the
hydraulics are inclined to be a trifle noisy.
Rover rolls appreciably when cornered hard, the Dunlop SP Sport tyres hang on in
most impressive fashion. Straight-line traction is also excellent, but
over-exuberance on tight corners soon has the inside rear wheel spinning
furiously. With this amount of power on tap, a limited-slip differential could
be a worthwhile proposition.
Up to a
point, the harder the car is pushed, the more it understeers. Beyond this point,
roll effects cause a progressive reversal of this situation. Ultimately, the
tail slides out in a gentle and controllable manner.
behaviour has met with a certain amount of criticism in the past. True, there is
a trace of yaw at times, but never enough to cause concern. A relaxed hold on
the wheel helps, since any attempt to "fight" the car aggravates the condition.
Transmission and Brakes
clutch-actuating mechanism, with its vertically-disposed master cylinder,
suggests that the designerīs hands were tied to a large extent. This may well be
the reason for the pedal return spring fouling the driverīs toe at times.
Release effort, at 44 lb, is high by modern standards, but the set-up feels
mechanically efficient. Although total travel is more than 6 in, the unit
"clears" quite early on. This makes gear-changing less of a chore than the
itself, a 9.5 in. diaphragm-spring unit, coped admirably with the punishment
meted out to it. Take-up is smooth and a 1-in-3 restart is treated with
already described the gearbox in some detail. The ratios - identical with those
of the smaller box - are well-suited to the Three-thousand-five. Lever movements
are crisp and short, especially across the gate. The change is less notchy than
on earlier models (2000 and 2000 TC) but still baulks if really hurried.
Nevertheless, most owners will find it very much to their taste. Our only real
criticism concers gear whine. This is present in all indirect ratios, but is
particularly bad on overrun in first.
3.08-to-1 final drive ratio is retained. This is spot-on from the performance
viewpoint, the mean top speed virtually coinciding with peak power.
brakes are employed on all four wheels. Rover rely on a single hydraulic system
with remote acting vacuum assistance. A valuable safety feature is a
facia-mounted lamp to warn of low fluid or worn pads. It also serves as a
The brakes on
the test car felt abnormally dead during gentle check braking. A glance at the
response figures explains why; an effort of 20 lb produces a deceleration of
less than 0.1 g. Behaviour is quite normal at higher pedal efforts. 40 lb
sufficing for all normal needs and 60 lb resulting in 1.0 g.
spongy to the extent of reaching full travel if applied in determined fashion,
the handbrake proved deceptively effective. It easily held the car on MIRAīs
1-in-3 test hill and achieved a deceleration of 0.34 g.
Fade is never
a problem, no matter how hard the car is driven. On the contrary, our fade-test
results show a progressive build-up in efficiency with rising temperature. This
did, however, result in a considerable amount of wirebrushing which persisted
for a considerable time afterwards.
Comfort and Convenience
already been made of the revised seating. Opinions differ concerning the
eye-appeal of the box-pleated Ambla, but we thought the seats very comfortable
and feel that lateral support is considerably improved. There is ample
fore-and-aft adjustment, with an easy-to-find rail for the slide release. The
excellent friction-lock rake adjustment is also retained. Because of its smaller
diameter, the rim of the steering wheel tends to obscure minor instruments
(ammeter and fuel) unless the rake adjustment is at its highest setting. Perhaps
we are being hyper-critical, for the instrument and control layout is among the
best we have sampled. We particularly like the illuminated rotary switches for
lights and wipers, and the useful non-skid oddments shelf. In addition, there
are two generously-proportioned glove lockers.
wiper-pattern is adequate, rather than good, but there is a useful differential
between the two speeds, together with a variable pause facility.
four-headlamp system has been improved, the inner units now having a rating of
75 watts. They give excellent illumination, comparable with that obtained from
some tungsten-halogen set-ups. In line with normal Rover practice, the main
lighting switch has a parking and foglight position. Incidentally, the wiring
for the latter is already in place.
and ventilation is among the best around. The controls are logical and easy to
operate. Distribution is excellent and the face-level vents are ideally placed.
The two-speed blower is unobstrusive and boosts the flow through the cold-air
vents. The only thing we are not convinced about is the effectiveness of the
extractor vents, which are concealed in the rear pillars; opening a rear quarter
window does seem to result in appreciably brisker flow.
3500 S buyers will already be familiar with the limitation of the boot. Although
deep and not cursed with an awkward sill, it is rather narrow. There is a
conversion enabling the spare wheel to be mounted atop the lid, but this is an
awkward and unsightly solution.
A point often
criticized on Rovers is the traditional convex rear view mirror. One of our
staff broke that on the test car - entirely by accident, we hasten to add! A
flat, clip-on-type was subsequently fitted. As a result of our experience with
this, we are more than ever convinced that Rover should scrap the existing
pattern. While on a critical note, we also think that child-proof devices should
be incorporated in the rear locks. We also fail to see the necessity for three
separate keys. On the credit side, that for the ignition and steering is now of
the double-entry variety.
The 3500 S is
soundly constructed and beautifully finished. Door closure is excellent and
window regulators particularly light and smooth. All four doors have courtesy
switches. A warning lamp glows if the engine reaches working temperature with
the choke out. There is a map-reading lamp as standard. We could go on, but is
has all been said before. We can best sum it up by saying that we cannot think
of a single car we would prefer at the price.
0-60 mph 9.1
top speed 122
consumption overall 20.1 mpg
Autocar / UK