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The Jaguar S-Type was always a bit of a throwback. Stately and posh, the S-Type's exterior design showed shades of the '60s Jaguar saloons, from which its designers cribbed generously. The distinct styling also distinguished the S-Type from other luxury sedans on the market, which more typically feature sharp edges and angled surfaces.
At its debut for 2000, the Jaguar S-Type signified the first real fruit of the Ford-Jaguar partnership. Born as the classier-looking twin of the Lincoln LS, the S-Type was the brand's first true competing model in the modern midsize luxury segment. However, any sort of dynamic excellence exhibited by that platform faded quickly and the S-Type lived long past its expiration date. Its once-novel retro styling eventually became synonymous with a brand perilously stuck in the past. As such, one of the car's more up-to-date competitors might be a better choice. Also, you'll want to pay close attention to the model's history, as Jaguar made continual improvements to rectify early mistakes.
Most Recent Jaguar S-Type
The Jaguar S-Type was a four-door sedan produced from 2000-'08. It survived for one generation and there were some incremental changes over the years, mainly on the inside. It was replaced by the Jaguar XF
Originally, Jaguar rated the S-Type's 3.0-liter V6 at 240 horsepower (this number lowered slightly for 2002 and '04) and the 4.0-liter V8 at 281 hp (reduced to 277 hp for 2002). A five-speed automatic was at first standard, but for 2003, Jaguar replaced it with a six-speed and made a new five-speed manual transmission standard on the 3.0 trim. It was never popular with consumers, however, and Jaguar dropped it two years later. For 2004, the optional V8 was upped to 4.2 liters and 293 hp. Two years later, it was raised to 300 hp.
Regardless of year, we found the V6 to be underpowered given the S-Type's considerable weight, and recommended sticking with the beefier V8. Despite the light steering and a soft suspension -- two deliberate traits of the brand -- all S-Types nevertheless felt stable through the turns.
The most important addition to the Jaguar S-Type came in 2003, when the 390-hp supercharged R trim was released. From 2004 to its final year, the S-Type R produced 400 hp. While it was capable of doing the 0-60 drill in just 5.3 seconds, there was more to the R than mere muscle. It was an all-around performer, equipped with larger disc brakes, an adjustable sport-tuned suspension system and 18-inch wheels (19s for 2008). Still, the S-Type R could never stand toe-to-toe with the best high-performance sedans from Germany.
At first, the S-Type's cabin was widely considered unbecoming of the Jaguar name. Both the design and materials seemed down-market and indicative of the car's Ford roots. For 2003, the interior received a thorough overhaul, bringing it more in line with the pricier XJ in terms of design and luxury trappings. The interior was upgraded again in 2005 (along with the exterior), but changes were minor. Nevertheless, controls maintained a certain "ye-olde" quality to them and switchgear (as on the XJ) seemed cheaper than the rest of the car.
Equipment levels were also increased as the many years went by, from the optional CD changer when introduced to Bluetooth phone connectivity in its waning hours. And because it was a Jaguar, leather and wood trim were never in short supply.
In reviews of the Jaguar S-Type, consumers typically praise the car's styling and features. They've commented unfavorably about its small trunk and the poor shift quality in earlier cars. The Jaguar's overall reputation for reliability is also not as good as those of other midsize luxury sedans from Japanese automakers.