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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
September 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview After three seasons in its initial form, the rear-wheel-drive Jaguar S-Type sedan was reworked for the 2003 model year. An R edition that packs a compelling 390-horsepower supercharged engine highlights the S-Type series. Jaguar claims that the S-Type R can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a swift 5.3 seconds. Regular S-Type models may be equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 or 4.2-liter V-8 engine.
Adaptive cruise control is available for 2004 on the R series and on models featuring the 4.2-liter V-8. A six-speed-automatic transmission is now standard on the S-Type 3.0. Radiance Red is a new color. Jaguars are made in Coventry, England.
Exterior Unlike the more familiar Jaguar grille on other models, a mesh grille leads off the R edition. Zeus wheels on the R sedan hold 18-inch tires and halt with Brembo brakes. Nonsupercharged V-8 models get 17-inch tires, and 16-inchers are installed on S-Types with the V-6 engine.
Aerodynamic touches include window shields and spats for the front wheels. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are standard on the R edition and optional on other models.
Interior All models seat five people on a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Leather-upholstered power seats in V-6-equipped sedans have eight-way adjustment for the driver and a six-way feature for the front passenger, and models with a V-8 add two more positions. The fascias and door casings are finished in gray bird’s-eye maple veneers.
An electronic parking brake is installed. The R edition has heated 16-way adjustable front seats and a DVD-based navigation system. Premium and Sport packages are available.
Under the Hood Three engines are available under S-Type bonnets. The base 3.0-liter V-6 produces 235 hp and mates with either a five-speed Getrag manual gearbox or a ZF six-speed-automatic transmission. A 4.2-liter V-8 generates 294 hp, while the supercharged edition cranks out 390 hp. Models equipped with V-8 engines feature the six-speed-automatic gearbox.
Safety Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, traction control and antilock brakes are standard.
Driving Impressions The S-Type is civilized and refined and delivers admirable performance. It is quiet but emits a bare undertone of satisfying sound. Acceleration from a standstill in models with the V-6 won’t set any records, but power is more than ample and even better at higher speeds. A masterful manual-shift gearbox features short throws and works with a simple, positive flick. Clutch engagement is easygoing, but achieving smooth upshifts and downshifts takes some effort.
All S-Types are particularly surefooted and sit flat on the road through curves and corners. The sedan can handle tight turns notably faster than expected, yielding exceptionally little body lean.
Headroom is adequate, and legroom is so-so. Rear-seat room isn’t 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. Its handling is tauter, the brakes are more compelling, and it hangs even tighter to the pavement.