An all-independently-sprung version of the Jaguar Mk. 11 range
The Mk. II Jaguar series, which has been in production since 1959, has now been joined by two additional models to be known as the S-type. The Mk. II range will be continued in 2.4 and 3.4 forms but the 3.8 has been dropped and the S-types will be available only in 3.4 and 3.8-litre forms. No prices have been announced for the new cars as we go to press but they are expected to be more expensive than the equivalent 3.4 and 3.8 Mk. II versions.
At a quick glance the new car is little different in outward appearance from the Mk. II model but more detailed study shows numerous differences. The tail of the car is longer, having a similar shape to the Mk. 10, and the luggage boot capacity has been increased from 12 cu. ft. to 20 cu. ft. as well as having a much better shape for the stowage of cases. The roof line has been lengthened and flattened slightly and the front end styling has been subtly altered with small cowlings over the headlamps, differently shaped bumpers and overriders, and strip-type winkers instead of the separate round lights used on the Mk. II models.
The most important change on the S-type is the introduction of independent rear suspension. This is based on that of the E-type and Mk. 10 with certain changes to enable it to be adapted to the 3.8 bodyshell which has a narrower track. A good deal of additional stiffening has had to be incorporated into the rear end of the unit construction shell to take the Salisbury chassis-mounted differential, and this partly accounts for the fact that the S-type is slightly heavier than the normal 3.8, the dry weight being 3,440 lb. Apart from the normal benefits of i.r.s. this system has allowed the rear seat to be moved back approximately 3 in., giving more leg room. By virtue of the fixed drive line and chassis-mounted differential the rear seat has been lowered, allowing the roof line to be lowered also.
All the seats of the S-type are new, the front seats being separate bucket types with better shape, having adjustment for height and reach as well as reclining backrests. The rear seat is contoured for two passengers with a large central arm-rest, but three people can be carried if required. The facia is similar to the Mk. II but the space above the central tunnel is taken up with a new fresh-air heating and ventilation system similar to that of the Mk. 10 with a control for directing air to the rear compartment. The door locks have been modified to the much improved “zero-torque” type and quarter-lights now have thief-proof catches fitted.
The fuel system has been modified to that of the Mk. 10 with twin 7-gallon tanks in the rear wings with a facia-mounted changeover switch. The fuel gauge registers the contents of the tank in use at the time.
Dunlop self-adjusting disc brakes of the latest Mk. III type are fitted on all four wheels and the tyres fitted as standard are the Dunlop RS5. The usual Jaguar options are available for the S-types. It can be had with 4-speed gearbox, and overdrive if required, or with the Borg-Warner automatic transmission. Power steering is also optional, this being modified so that only 3.5 turns lock-to-lock are required against the 4.7 turns of the manual steering and 4.9 turns of the previous power steering.
We were recently able to spend a couple of days with the latest Jaguar, this particular car having the 4-speed gearbox with overdrive, which operates on top gear only. Power steering was also fitted. As the car was brand new and not fully run-in we were restricted to a rev. limit of 4,000 r.p.m. and were therefore unable to take any performance figures. However, as the car uses the same engine as the 3.8 Mk. II performance should be much the same, although it will be interesting to see whether the theoretically improved traction of the i.r.s. will offset the greater weight. Jaguar claim a top speed of 123 m.p.h., 0-60 m.p.h. in 10.1 sec., and 0-100 m.p.h. in 29.4 sec., which are fairly similar to the figures obtained on the ordinary 3.8.
The i.r.s. definitely imparts a much smoother, softer ride to the Jaguar, although not as soft as that of the Mk. 10. This smooths out the bumps most impressively although they are still heard rather than felt. The car seems to roll slightly more than the rigid axle cars and more tyre squeal is heard during hard cornering, but we did have the tyres on their softest recommended settings. The power steering is commendably light without losing the feel of the road, and with 3 1/2 turns gives much more controllability than previously. Jaguar owners will undoubtedly appreciate this feature as the car can be aimed much more precisely and cornered quicker. Understeer is quite prominent but this turns into roll oversteer as really high cornering speeds are reached, but with the i.r.s. bumpy bends provide no problems with the displacement of the rear end. The engine is the same familiar turbine-smooth unit and the gearbox is also regrettably the same unit, having poor synchromesh and requiring full depression of the clutch pedal. Fuel consumption is in the 16 to 18 m.p.g. region, which empties the 7-gallon tanks rather rapidly.
Despite the fact that we had the feeling that this Jaguar is only an interim model until something really exciting is revealed, the S-type is obviously going to appeal to Jaguar enthusiasts who prefer the more compact dimensions of the 3.8 but crave the all-independence of the Mk. 10. We look forward to longer acquaintance on the road.—M. L. T.