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S-type versus the Rover 75


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Having had 5 Rover 75's previously, I'll consider myself well qualified to comment!

The 75 was a car I always wanted when launched, and when the opportunity to purchase my first one for £500 came, my love affair started.

We'll leave aside all the Rover politics and saga, never interested me anyway. What Richard Pulley penned was a masterful design - it's been called the British Alfa Romeo, and I agree, a design with elegance, character and style (pre hateful facelift). 

The S-Type was of course launched at the same Birmingham motorshow, and to my eyes, lacked the styling success. For me, it only came good with the heavy restyle that straightened the rear end. But, I will say that as an owner now, it is growing on me a little. The colour of mine helps!

What about quality? I'd say, having had so many examples, that the 75 walks away with this one - at least on pre-project drive examples, before they started de-contenting them. Early dashboards were real wood for example, and the cabin was well made, and an gorgeous design. Modern, as Rover tried to say? Of course not - as retro as they come, and beautifully done. James May said the orange instruments were like sitting by the fire. Fine, I like sitting by the fire. I lost count over the years of the amount of passengers I carried who said "wow, I never knew these Rovers were like this!" Sadly that ignorance led to many potential buyers staying away.

The Jaguar by comparison? Well I can't comment directly, but my XJ type facelifted interior is certainly nice compared to the ugly looking earlier ones I've seen, that reputedly were of poor quality. It's very comfortable, yet it gives me the feeling that Jaguar were trying to avoid looking "old fashioned" and so ended up with a compromise - the dreadful plastic "Maplewood" a good example, just make the wood look like wood and stop being embarrassed by it! But I'd personally say that the interior in my 2004 version is what the S-Type should have had from the start. Until then, the 75 was way ahead with interior quality and ambience. I got tired of people saying what a nice Jaguar I had...

Driving then. 4 of my 75's were 2.5 v6's, 3 automatic and one manual. The manual gearbox was just "wrong" somehow, and even non-car enthusiast passengers used to comment on it! If ever a car should have been automatic as standard, it was the V6 75!

Ah yes, the KV6 - good them Honda engines, aren't they mate? Actually, it's not - it's Rovers own KV6, which first saw a disastrous introduction in the 800, where it devoured head gaskets, warped cylinder heads,  and dropped liners for fun. Fortunately BMW gave River the money to tool it up properly, and so the result was reliable and durable - one of mine was still purring at 190000 miles when I sold it. The result was also silken and refined - I really was able to balance a coin on the engine when it was idling, and it whoosed pleasingly when power was applied.

Oh yes, power. Given the Jaguar 2.5 is 201 versus 174 bhp, it's difficult to know where exactly Rover put the missing horses. However, it was plenty quick enough for me, and capable of surprising economy - I managed 39.9mpg in a steady motorway trip once. And the automatic transmission was smooth too, a lovely combination. So 5 stars to the Rover then.

Apparently the S-Type V6 is a Ford engine, like many parts. Personally, that doesn't bother me, I'm not an engineering snob, especially for what I paid! So whatever its origins,  I give the Jaguar engine 5 stars too, I'm impressed with the silky smooth engine and gearbox combination, surely what you expect in an upmarket car.

Driving comparisons? For the way I drive, (not like a racing driver, but enjoying the comfortable refinement on offer) I'd say there isn't really a lot in it. Yes really. That's an amazing achievement for the Rover, which wasn't supposed to be a competitor for the Jaguar at all. The Rover is very competent, smooth and comfortable, and in fact probably over achieves. The Jaguar is gorgeous too, maybe a couple of notches further on in terms of refinement and handling, which really it should be.

So, is there really any competition between them? There shouldn't be, but it's a mark of how right Rover got the 75 that all these years later, they are closer than you'd imagine. The Jaguar is lovely as it should be, and I'm enjoying it so far. But if you've never tried one, don't dismiss the V6 75, it's much better than you might imagine.

Rover stated they wanted to design the best front wheel drive car in the world, I personally thought they succeeded.

But if the S-Type is a fusion of Ford parts, I'd say they succeeded with that too - it's a beautiful car to drive, and the way a luxury car is meant to be, instead of today's hard riding "sporty" horrors.

Consider me a new fan.



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3 minutes ago, Old Peter said:

I had a Rover Sterling for 11 years.

I now have had an Jaguar S type for 7 years.

I prefer the S Type.


A Rover Sterling? That must be an Rover 800 - a lovely car, I had one too.

But I'd certainly agree - the S-Type is much better.

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The wood in the S type is genuine with a heavy lacquer, if you remove a piece of trim you'll see 😉 

I prefer the darker Burl walnut offered with the 2005 Hi lux pack, which mine fortunately has, 


As for the engine the Crankshaft and block is indeed ford, however everything above it is Jaguar/Cosworth 😉 

Economy on mine is quite good my 260hp 3.0 manages 33mpg quite easily, considering i do a fair bit of A road flying and town crawling 🙂 

Mine has had a Celtic stage 1 "tune up" to 260hp with the redline moved to 7400rpm the AJ30 is an off square V6 which means they love to rev and when mine drops a few cogs it flies, even in stock form.

And on the Motorway at a steady 70 she'll do 40mpg 😉

I considered many cars before buying my S type, the 75 being among them, I found personally the S was a nicer cruiser with great handling and a very supple ride.. 


Whereas the 75 had a good ride but the handling was quite rock and roll 😉

The ZT had the opposite effect, harsh ride and good handling 🙂 😞  

The KV6 unit was nice, but thinking about the potential problems was enough of an eye opener, the AJV6 having a much better almost bullet proof reputation gives piece of mind 


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Mmm, that wood looks nice.

Much as I loved them, I wouldn't have another 75 - the V6, while a lovely engine, is difficult for some jobs, ie the cambelts (there are 3!) are an expensive job, and the plastic inlet manifold is difficult and expensive to source now, and the thermostat is awkward to do being situated inside the "vee". 

Good examples are going up in price now, quite rightly as they were undervalued for years.

But enjoying the S-Type so far, although I'll enjoy it more when it's 2 worn wheel bearings are replaced!

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  • 1 month later...


So my 1st post, maybe should have done a less controversial one.

Had a 75 about 8 years ago, was the top of the range connoisseur something or other. It had the Diesel engine and automatic.

That engine and gearbox combo was sad, painfully slow. and the economy was probably about the same as the diesel s-type as that engine was under powered. 

The car didn't like corners, made hard work of them unless doddering around them. Also the ride wasn't as insulating as you would have hoped.

The electronics were just are reliable as Jaguar, sadly.

All the interior parts (other than the instrument cluster which was awesome) were cheap, they were trying to make it look like a jag, but all expense spared.

It probably felt bigger than the S-type inside, and i do think was a more hansom car outside.

And my understanding on the S-type petrol is that while its a modified version of the ford Duratec engine, the engineering for that engine primarily came from porsche not Ford.

you can tell i really wanted the petrol version not the diesel of the s type 😉

the 75 wasn't a bad car, but was a lot more show than go and the corners cut showed, especially with a little wear....

my tuppence worth at least 

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