The start of the 70s saw British car luxury maker Jaguar update its popular XKE line with the XKE Series 3. The previous iteration of the line, the XKE Series 2, found it difficult to meet new emissions standards in the US. Jaguar’s management eventually decided to retire the aging Series 2 in favor of a totally fresh model, the Series 3. The Jaguar XKE Series 3 was designed from the ground up to meet all the safety and emission limits required in the US. The XKE Series 3 came with 5.3 liter V12 engine, which not only was more powerful than the Series 2′s 4.2 liter XK-I6, but also emissions-compliant.
Sadly, the Series 3 was not the success Jaguar hoped it would be. Instead of bringing the vaunted XKE line to a whole new generation of car buyers, the Series 3 was seen as something of a step back for the British car maker. The mandatory power steering caused the Series 3 to have a soft and vague control, more like a stately town car than a performance car. XKE aficionados used to the lively, sporty feel of the previous cars were put off by the subdued, unresponsive feedback of the Series 3’s steering. Another mark against the Series 3 was its poor fuel efficiency – the car managed an abysmal fuel consumption.
The Series 3 Roadster retained the iconic XKE sportster makeup, although it came at the expense of luggage space. The Series 3 2+2 coupe model had a refined appearance and boasted a wider room. Great for extensive journeys, the XKE Series 3 coupe’s back seat can be moved forward to increase storage space even more. The downside to the Series 3 coupe models is that they suffer from major heat leaking issues. Heat tends to escape from the engine into the interior. Keep in mind that air conditioning was not built-in, but an optional extra in the Series 3.
Many drivers complained about the lack of leg space in the Series 3. Regardless of whichever jaguar design, tall and big drivers had trouble becoming comfortable in a XKE Series 3. This is nothing new for the XKE line, however, as even the early models had trouble accommodating anyone taller than 6’2″ or weighing more than 115 kilos (250 lbs).
Despite all the drawbacks, the entire XKE line remains highly sought after in the classic cars market. Deciding which one to buy comes down to individual preference. Early Series-1 models have the iconic 1960′s Jaguar look. They also have the responsive handling of a genuine sports car. The Series 3 is bigger and more refined but lacks the zippiness or maneuverability of earlier models. The XKE Series 2 is a mix of the two, having some of the refinement of the S3 with the raw power of the S1.
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