Jaguar leans heavily on its heritage in its styling and marketing, and the S-Type sedan is the most overt attempt to capitalize on the passion generated by its previous models. Its name comes from the 3.8 S-Type, one of Jaguar's performance models during the 1960s.
Though Ford has owned Jaguar since 1990, the parent company gives the British luxury manufacturer considerable autonomy. That is apparent in the S-Type, which is built from the same basic architecture as the Lincoln LS but wears classic Jaguar styling that masks their kinship.
The rear-drive S-Type, which went on sale in May 1999 as an early 2000 model, serves as the entry-level Jaguar. The S-Type sedan is expected to be joined by a station wagon during 2001.
A heavily sculptured hood (topped by a "leaping cat" ornament) that slopes to an elliptical vertical bar grille and four round headlamps gives the four-door S-Type a classic Jaguar face. The profile and rear styling also capture traditional Jaguar cues with a dose of contemporary lines.
The S-Type shares its 114.5-inch wheelbase with the Lincoln LS but is a few inches shorter overall at 191 inches (and 6 inches shorter than Jaguar's XJ8 sedan).
The five-passenger S-Type is trimmed with the same rich leather upholstery and warm wood accents as other Jaguars, traditional touches for this company.
It also comes with some high-tech hardware, including optional voice-activated controls to tune the radio, set the temperature or dial a telephone number an auto industry first. Simple voice commands such as "temperature 68 degrees" activate unseen digital servants that cater to your desires. An in-dash, satellite-based navigation system also is available.
Under the Hood
The base engine in the S-Type is the 3.0-liter V-6 engine found in the Lincoln LS, but Jaguar supplies its own cylinder head, intake manifold and other hardware to boost horsepower from 210 to 240. An optional 4.0-liter Jaguar V-8 (also used in the XJ sedans and XK8 sports car) offers 281 horsepower. (A version of this V-8 with 3.9 liters of displacement and lesser output is the uplevel engine on the Lincoln LS.) Both engines team with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats, an anti-skid system, traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard. An optional Sport Package includes the Computer Active Technology Suspension, which adjusts the suspension to firm or soft settings based on how the car is driven.