New Models - Jaguar S-Type
First drive: Sharper-Type Jaguar
Jaguar’s latest S-Type makeover improves value as well as aesthetics
14 May 2004
JAGUAR has sharpened the value as well as the visuals of its upcoming S-Type facelift, the second the series has received since its 1999 release.
Side-on, the sills are smaller for a longer, leaner look while the rear’s droop has been booted for a loftier posterior, AU to BA Ford Falcon-style.
At the rear, jewelled tail-lights, revised badging, a new valance garnish and squared-off numberplate recess add to a fresher (if Rover 75-like) appearance while improving aerodynamics (from Cd 0.32 to 0.31) and high-speed stability – particularly on the be-spoilered R.
Redesigned alloy wheels of up to 18-inch diameter and a new colour palate complete the external titivations.
Interior alterations are fewer since the S-Type came under the scalpel here in mid-2002, but buyers will find new and more informative instrumentation, revised colours and trim and the availability of an aluminium fascia finish in lieu of timber.
An upgraded electronic handbrake is now standard across the range.
Also new to the S-Type is Jaguar’s Front Park and Reverse Park Assist radar packages, as well as Forward Alert (which warns of obstacles close ahead) and Adaptive Cruise Control.
The latter allows the set cruising speed to be altered automatically according to the speed of a slower-moving vehicle. It then reverts back to the set speed if the coast ahead is clear again.
There are also improved safety features, such as Jaguar’s Volvo-inspired ARTS adaptive airbag/energy-absorbing anti-whiplash seats/pretensioner seatbelt systems, a 10 per cent stronger body (for overseas diesel engine support applications) and improved windscreen wiper functions.
On the drivetrain side there are few changes, with only mild changes to suspension calibrations. These include low friction ball joints and re-tuned dampers for a better ride/handling compromise. The automatic’s J-Gate lever has also been modified.
Noise/vibration/harshness levels are also reduced, due to the freer overall airflow and the range-wide adoption of a heavy duty bonnet liner developed for silencing the inevitable din in diesel variants.
As mentioned earlier, Jaguar heavily revised the S-Type in the middle of 2002. It introduced the all-new 4.2-litre V8 engines, a ZF six-speed automatic gearbox, new front and comprehensively upgraded rear suspension and a significantly upgraded body shell.
Here are the new S-Type engine’s outputs:
3.0-litre V6: 179kW of power at 6800rpm and 300Nm of torque at 4100rpm, top speed of 235km/h (auto: 233km/h), 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds (auto: 7.5) and averages 10.3L/100km (auto: 10.7) on the combined city/highway cycle.
4.2-litre V8: 224kW at 6000rpm, 420Nm at 4100rpm, top speed limited to 249km/h, 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, and averages 11.5L/100km/h on the combined cycle.
4.2-litre Supercharged V8: 298kW at 6100rpm, 553Nm at 3500rpm, top speed limited to 249km/h, 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds and averages 12.5L/100km on the combined cycle.
For 2004, a 10 per cent S-Type sales improvement is the goal.
Last year Jaguar sold 314 examples, 252 units down on the 2002 S-Type tally.
This compares to 304 Audi A6s, 1235 BMW 5 Series (which suffered for being in the E39/E60 model transition period) and 2787 of Mercedes’ refreshed E-class.
Jaguar says the base $86,900 S-Type 3.0 SE is priced around 2.8 and 21.6 per cent below its equivalent BMW 525i and Mercedes-Benz E320 Elegance rivals respectively.
About 60 per cent of total S-Type sales are likely to be the $99,900 3.0 Luxury, followed by the 4.2 V8 (25 per cent) and the R (five per cent).
"We want to drive value," Jaguar Australia boss David Blackhall told GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted S-Type and XK series in Austin, Texas.
He also said that the fresh pricing strategy was a result of what the competition was doing.
It also neatly sidesteps the temptation to discount, which adversely affects residuals, since equipment is added while prices are not cut.
Furthermore, the elimination of slow-selling models like the 2.5 means a reduction of unpopular variants at auction time that usually bring down the median value of the rest of the range, making the S-Type "a more desirable used-car proposition," according to Mr Blackhall.
"Our value-for-money pricing might make the difference for people who are considering an S-Type," he said.
Mr Blackhall is also reviewing the marketing and advertising strategy for the whole Jaguar range, citing the internet as an excellent way of communicating to potential buyers in a personable, extremely efficient and informative manner.
The Jaguar S-Type was unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show in October 1998, five months before its local debut.
Named after an almost forgotten mid-sized luxury Jaguar sedan sold here from 1964 to 1969, the modern S-Type shared much of its underpinnings with the American market Lincoln LS.
As a result, it was measurably roomier than the S-Type’s longer, lower bigger brother, the X300-series XJ8. But the Lincoln’s size requirements may have also compromised the Jaguar’s overall proportions, resulting in its fussy, ungainly styling.
This may help explain why the current S has been in decline since its 2000 peak of 25,000 units, with the comprehensive 2002 update (which resulted in a 70 per cent new S-Type after only three years) doing little to reverse this.
Jaguar 3.0 V6 SE (a) $86,500
Jaguar 3.0 V6 Luxury (a) $99,900
Jaguar 4.2 V8 Luxury (a) $124,900
Jaguar 4.2 V8 R Supercharged (a) $165,000
Pricing is subject to change. The Luxury nomenclature is also indication-only, with Executive, LS, LSE or SE Luxury also a possibility.
DRIVE IMPRESSIONSJAGUAR’S 2002 driveline update resulted in one of the most underrated sports sedans available.
Now, with the S-Type’s appearance taking a tremendous turn for the better, there’s no reason why luxury car buyers should not seriously consider this alternative to the traditional German choices.
Sampled on mostly dry but also some wet roads in, around and beyond the Texas capital of Austin, the 4.2 V8 allied to the six-speed automatic made mince meat of the long, straight roads on offer. It really was in its element.
Underfoot, the V8 was a strong and willing performer, with a satisfying sweetness and an expensive silkiness to its delivery. Combined with the quick-witted auto, surefooted chassis and extremely well insulated cabin, progress was always swift.
Annoyingly, there was a dearth of twisting, curvy roads, so the “linear steering” and excellent handling and roadholding claims could not really be contested on the SUV-swamped Texan roads.
But the brakes certainly seemed up to the task and the ride never made itself felt, which is appropriate for a luxury car.
And in light of the changing design direction at Audi and BMW with their respective S-Type rivals, the Jaguar’s slightly stately, coolly conservative appearance is starting to look like a well-judged example of English class and understatement, especially now that the sad-sack droopy styling has been consigned to the history bin.
The interior still feels a little too hemmed in by the tall fascia, but the smart new instrumentation facings, easy and legible controls and flawless presentation speak of a company that is taking quality seriously. Nothing squeaked, shook or broke off. And the optional satellite navigation system was a hoot to use.
Rear legroom was a little tight for a vehicle this large, but overall the cabin was a comfortable and relaxing place to be. Two of the three occupants fell asleep on the longer stretches, supporting the previous claim, although rabid jetlag may have also contributed.
Meanwhile, a few hundred kilometres at the wheel of the S-Type R sports sedan revealed a toweringly powerful and capable five-seater family car that was hamstrung on the day by unremittingly straight roads.
All I can add is that the R is ridiculously fast, exceptionally stable and rock-solid at the wheel, and quite thirsty when the pedal is planted… as is to be expected from 298kW of power.
Some road surface noise was transmitted through to the sombre but tasteful cabin, but otherwise the ultimate S-Type is an awesome cross-country express that also happens to be the best looking variant in an impressively updated luxury car range.
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