Jaguar’s S-Type, a mid-sized executive car, was first seen at the Birmingham Motor Show in the UK in 1998, and started arriving in showrooms the following year. The luxurious Jaguar stayed in production until 2008 when it was replaced by the Jaguar XF.
The S-Type blatantly and successfully draws on the looks of the older and much loved MkII Jaguars from 1959 to 1967, making reverent reference to the lines and curves, front grille, and separated duel headlights. It gives the S-Type a suave elegance of its own, while acknowledging its heritage.
The earlier S-Types are available in three trims, the V6 SE, the V6 Sport, and the V8 SE. In 2002, they added the top-of-the-range S-Type R with all the bells and whistles. In 2005, the options had been reduced to a single choice, the V8 Luxury.
Changes between the variants were small, and the Jaguar S-Type still had its large shield grille and double headlight combinations set into the curvy, dipping bonnet. Design tweaks in 2005 were made to the grille, rear light cluster, and the badge, and it also came with a spring-loaded key fob. The V8 Luxury version came with aprons and side skirts, as well as built-in front fog lights and 18” alloys fitted.
The interior is sumptuously designed and constructed, and while the array of modern buttons, dials, and gadgets make it impossible to emulate the symmetry of the MkII’s dashboard, the reflecting of the front grille’s shape is a nice touch.
The S-Type is powered by 2.5L and 3.0L petrol and 2.7L diesel V6 engines, but you can also find the more powerful V8 petrol engines in 4.0L and 4.2L. The engines are fitted either with a 5-speed manual or the smooth operating 6-speed ZF automatic transmission. The ZF is a J-Gate construction that allows either full automatic or a clutchless, manual mode of operation.
The top performing 4.2L DOHC V8 engine purrs along quite nicely, offering the driver 224Kw of power and producing a useful 420Nm of torque. The fuel consumption for the 4.2L comes out at a combined average of 11L/100Km. It does, however, have a small fuel tank, which limits its travelling range before needing to fill it up. Acceleration in the 3.7L diesel is pretty nippy, taking the large car from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, but the real powerhouse is the 4.2L, which roars to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds.
The list of standard kit in the S-Type includes sat nav, trip computer, leather interior, climate control, powered windows and mirrors, central remote locking, 10-speaker radio CD player, and alarm. The technical wizardry to keep the car on the road and safe includes front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as Jaguar’s Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS). There is also power steering, ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, and Traction Control.
The first generation started out with a U-shaped central console, adding the option of a touch-screen navigation system after 2003. The park brake, touch screen menu, trip computer, and other controls are all within easy reach and not set out in a confusing manner. The V8 comes with the option of powered seats and driver seat memory settings. In the rear, the fall away design does leave head and legroom tighter than you would expect in an executive class car, and the boot is a little shallow but can be expanded with the 60/40 split rear seating.
Other novelty accessories as options on later editions include puddle lights that illuminate the ground outside the doors, dusk sensors, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, rain sensitive wipers, ski hatch, and 6-CD changer.
Drawing on the style of the classic Jaguar MkII, the S-Type immediately gave itself an established look but with modern technology. It was able to compete straight away with its rivals as if it had always been there. The market sees it up against the more spacious BMW 530d and 550i, the well-made Audi A6 S Line, and the solid Mercedes Benz E500 Avantgarde.
If you like your executive saloon to have retro looks that harken back to the Golden Age of motoring with a smooth comfortable ride in luxurious surroundings, then the Jaguar S-Type will impress. Admittedly, you will need to visit the petrol station to fill up more often than the rivals, and the value depreciates faster. However, you will find the Jaguar S-Type fetches less than the opposition, so you can pick up a bargain.