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Jaguar XKE Series 3 V-12


Jaguar XKE Series 3 Performance

The XKE Series 3 V-12's performance is nicely described though the experiences of celebrated British auto journalist Denis Jenkinson. He wrote about testing XKE Series 3 V-12 for a full week because he had been thinking of trading in his XKE Series 2 for one. Why he decided against it is interesting.

The Jaguar XKE Series 3 V-12 coupe retained its rear +2 seating, as well as its high roofline.
©2007 Jaguar Cars and Wieck Media Services, Inc.
This is the very last Jaguar XKE built. It's a
1975 XKE Series 3 V-12 convertible fitted with
an optional factory lift-off hardtop.

For all normal motoring purposes I could not see that the V12 engine gave any particular advantage over the six-cylinder apart from incredible smoothness and flexibility," Jenkinson observed in Jaguar E Type, a book about his experiences with the model.

"Obviously it had a lot more power, and it did everything the 4.2 did but at 20 mph higher speed. Where the 4.2 would cruise at 100 mph with little or no throttle opening, the V12 cruised at 120 mph with the foot eased right back, but at the expense of 15 mpg against 21 mpg [12.5 versus 17.5 U.S.]. The acceleration of the 4.2 at 100 mph, for instant overtaking or getting ahead of an impending situation, was repeated by the V12 at 120 mph, though maximum speed was no better than [that of] the 3.8-liter E type.

"My eyesight, judgement and reflexes could not really cope with these increasing speeds as a continual way of motoring. I could see no justification for a V12 for my purposes, even forgetting laws and restrictions that were gathering fast in all directions."

Those new limitations of the 1970s, he sorrowed, had made Europe "no longer the happy care-free motoring paradise it had been" in the 1950s and 1960s.

Besides that, Jenkinson went on, the power of the new V-12 had outstripped the basic XKE chassis concept. Even with the Series 3's better tires, suspension, and brakes, "it was all too easy to run out of roadholding, steering and braking ability if you gave the 5.3 liters their freedom. The days of the E type were numbered..."

That sad fact was brought home forcefully a year later when Jenks made a trial run in a prototype XJ12, the running mate to Jaguar's new-generation XJ6 sedan powered by the selfsame 5.3-liter engine instead of the venerable XK six.

"This ... proved to be a giant of a car," Jenks wrote, "with road holding and handling up to using the full potential of the V12 engine. I soon realized that the E type era was over, for on a cross-country run you would have been hard pressed to have kept that big saloon in sight with an E type."

For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:

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  • New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
  • Used Jaguars: Reviews, recalls, trouble spots, and more on pre-owned Jaguars starting with the 1990 model year. From the auto editors of Consumer Guide.

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