As demonstrated by Autocar, the V8 actually proved to be quite economical in this application because overdrive gear
ratios meant that during motorway cruising, for example, the engine was only turning 2500RPM at 70MPH and therefore,
was never stressed. Of course, the V8 liked a drink when pressed, but to make very reasonable progress, one never really
had to work it hard.
Not only was the transmission’s set of overdriven ratios lauded, but also the gear change of the new 77mm gearbox
came in for fulsome praise. Motor magazine again: “And what a Transmission! A middleweight, ultra-smooth clutch, five
perfect gear ratios and, best of all, an outstanding change. Not since driving a Spridget do I recall being able to say that
of a car from the Leyland stable….
The slick, quick, positive shifts and the car’s excellent performance go a long way to making the new Rover a real
driver’s car. Its handling emphasises the point.”
The 3500 was also praised for its good ride and handling and the quick steering made it feel smaller and more responsive
than it actually was. “Steering response is exceptionally quick and precise: not quite so high geared as that of the
Citroën CX which is positively twitchy until you get used to it, but much quicker than, say, a Jaguar XJ’s. When
I got back into the 3.4 its steering felt decidedly vague and unresponsive after the sensitivity I’d quickly adjusted
to in the 3500.”
Picture Information: Car of the Year 1977 was just reward for BL's hard work in getting the SD1 into production. Noted
ex-racing driver turned motoring writer Paul Frere, acting as President of the Car of the Year committee said of the SD1,
"The Rover 3500 is the first British car for years with a worldwide appeal. It is lavishly equipped, very economical for
its size and peformance and offers a good blend of handling and comfort. However you look at Sterling it represents very good
value both on the home and export markets."