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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Jim Flammang
November 20, 2002
Vehicle Overview Just three years after its introduction of the S-Type, Jaguar launched a redesigned version of this full-size sedan. On sale since May 6, 2002, the 2003 S-Type is highlighted by a new R edition that packs a 400-horsepower supercharged engine. Priced at a lofty $62,400 (including the destination charge), the S-Type R is the most powerful Jaguar sedan ever offered.
A new 3.0-liter V-6 model thats equipped with a five-speed-manual transmission starts at a more moderate $42,495 (including the destination charge). The best seller is likely to be the 3.0-liter V-6 model equipped with a new six-speed-automatic transmission, power moonroof, CD player and power seats; it sells for less than $45,000. This model will also be offered with a 4.2-liter V-8 engine and a starting price of $49,975 (including the destination charge).
The 2003 S-Type sedans are equipped with approximately 70 percent new content and an all-new interior. Underneath the car is a new rear subframe with a revised rear suspension that includes retuned springs, dampers, bushings and stabilizer bars. Such changes should only enhance what Chief Engineer Phil Hodgkinson calls the traditional Jaguar ride. Aerodynamic improvements include spats for the front wheels, new mirrors, window shields and a revised seal at the top of the windshield. A touchscreen multimedia display is available, and the Jaguar voice system now works with 156 commands. A new electronic parking brake has been installed.
Jaguar is very passionate, says Simon Sproule, Jaguars vice president of communications. His words undoubtedly echo the feelings of countless owners of the British marque. More than 90 percent of S-Type buyers have come from other brands and have not owned other Jaguars. The British automaker believes consumers switch to the Jaguar brand because of its spirit and the cars refinement and performance.
Its a special car, says Mike ODriscoll, president of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America. Its the car you buy when you win the lottery, when you get a promotion, when you celebrate an anniversary or a birthday.
More than 37,000 S-Type sedans have been sold in North America since the vehicles debut in May 1999 that makes it the fastest-selling Jaguar model ever. Jaguars are made in Coventry, England.
Exterior The S-Types overall styling hasnt changed appreciably. But according to Design Director Ian Callum, the new model has a visual dynamism [accompanied by a] slight edge of aggression, which is fun.
Unlike the more familiar Jaguar grille on other models, a mesh grille leads off the R edition. This high-performance model can also be identified by its distinctive red R logo. Zeus wheels on the R sedan hold 18-inch tires and halt with Brembo brakes, and it comes equipped with a spoiler at the rear. The non-supercharged V-8-powered models get 17-inch tires, while those with the V-6 engine have 16-inch rubber. Options include a power moonroof which comes as standard equipment on V-8 models and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights that are standard on the R edition.
Interior All S-Type models seat five occupants in redesigned interiors with a fold-down, 60/40-split rear seat. Leather-upholstered power seats in the V-6 sedans have an eight-way adjustment for the driver and six-way maneuverability for the front passenger, but models with a V-8 add two more positions for each occupant. The R edition features 16-way adjustable sport seats. New fascias and door casings are finished in gray birds-eye maple veneers. Standard equipment includes an electrically adjustable steering column, heated mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, a wood and leather steering wheel, and power windows.
A $1,500 Premium Package is available for the S-Type with the 3.0-liter V-6, and a $2,000 Sport Package can be installed on all models except the R edition. All models are available with a $2,250 Communication Package. The R edition comes equipped with a premium sound system, heated front seats and a DVD-based navigation system; those features are optional on other models.
Under the Hood Three engines are available under S-Type bonnets. The base 3.0-liter V-6 power plant produces 240 hp and mates to either a five-speed Getrag manual gearbox or a ZF six-speed-automatic transmission. A new 4.2-liter V-8 engine generates 300 hp, while the supercharged edition develops 400 hp. Models with these engines are equipped with a ZF six-speed-automatic transmission. Jaguar claims the new six-speed unit delivers greater economy and performance. With its supercharged engine, Jaguar says the S-Type R can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
Safety Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, traction control and antilock brakes are standard on all S-Type models.
The latest S-Type is civilized and refined, and it delivers noticeably better performance than its predecessor. The S-Type is quiet, but it emits a bare undertone of satisfying sound. Acceleration from a standstill with the V-6 engine wont set any records, but power is more than ample and even better at higher speeds. A masterful manual-shift gearbox with the V-6 features short throws and works with a simple, positive flick. Clutch engagement is easygoing, but achieving smooth upshifts and downshifts takes some effort.
Each S-Type is particularly surefooted and sits flat on the road through curves and corners. The sedan is able to handle tight turns notably faster than expected, which yields exceptionally little body lean.
The S-Types headroom is adequate and legroom is so-so. Riders may have to duck their heads when entering the vehicle. Room in the rear seat isnt the greatest, but the deep trunk is rather wide.
The lush supercharger whine when accelerating in the R edition is almost enough to warrant the extra dollars. This model soars off the line in a wholly linear, swift fashion, which is a truly exhilarating experience. Handling is tauter, the brakes are more compelling, and it hangs even tighter to the pavement.