Rover 3500 V8

Nearly two years ago, the Rover 3500 V8 was switched from the low-compression "export model" engine to the high-compression engine of 10.5 to 1, to coincide with the introduction of improved petrol grades in the Republic.

This smooth small-V8-engined car has gained the benefit of extra performance from the resulting 14 per cent increase in power output, and 7.5 per cent gain in torque - more than justifying the "Sport" tag that was given to the new model. To mark the change, attractive twin "power bulges" are pressed into the bonnet panel, and improved dial-type instrumentation is used.

The Rover is a compact, taut-feeling car which is exceedingly responsive and commanding to drive. Borg Warner Model 35 automatic transmission is standard, with the ability to hold the indirect ratios manually, and an accurate second-stage kickdown action.

Power steering

We tested the prototype of the high-compression-engine model in January 1971; since then, there have been some mild refinements, and the introduction of gentle power-steering (as an option) has made the car more driveable than ever. It gives finger-tip control even in parking operations, a neat turning circle, and requires 3.2 turns from lock to lock.

There has also been a substantial improvement in braking balance: there are discs all round (inboard at rear) and where we found a tendency to wheel-locking on earlier models, this car stopped beautifully from cruising speeds: firmly and without locking rear wheels. It pitched heavily in hard stops, though, and the engine stalled.

Apart from the power steering, the only equipment difference between this and the cars tested earlier (including the original test of the low-compression model in February 1970) was in the made of radial-ply tyres - size 185 HR 14.

This variation in tyres would affect performance to some extent: the radials on this test car showed particulalry tenacious grip, and hence no wheelspin at standing starts - which slowed the initial acceleration times somewhat. We used manual override to get a full 5200 rpm on the rev-counter (which overreads by a whopping 12 per cent, incidentally!).

The result was smooth and very quick acceleration, with a pervading sense of velvet power. Gradient ability is strong, and the car showed up well in everything from stopping ability to fuel economy. This included mechanical and road noise levels - though wind noise is high.


This is an extremely pleasant and relaxing car to drive, and earns particularly high marks for its manoeuvrability in tight conditions. We found the engine rather slow-warming in the mornings (the manual choke control has to be used liberally) and a minor drawback on an otherwise quite roomy car is that the luggage trunk is made very narrow by the vertical spare wheel - though an alternative horizontal position in the floor well is provided.

But the Rover scores in comfort and roadability, its live-wire responses to controls, its inherent safety, and its being a prestige car without being loud.

0-100 km/h 11.2 sec.

top speed 184.2 km/h

CAR / South Africa 3/1973