Web Spin: Jaguar S-Type 4.2 Luxury

The Cat's Back

40 years later, the stylish S-Type reappears. But is it the Cat of old?

Test Vehicle: Jaguar S-Type Luxury

  • 4.2 litre V8, 224 kW
  • 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
  • $124,990
  • 3 years/100,000 km warranty

Did you hear the one about the guy who took his Jag in for a 500 mile service?
“Is it leaking oil, sir?” enquired the service manager.
“No, of course not,” replied the customer indignantly.
“Oh, then we’d better drill a couple of holes.”

Jaguar is one of those brands that polarises automophiles. Traditional Jaguar owners are diehard, stiff-upper-lip types who will acknowledge the foibles of the marque on the quiet, but stand resolutely by the famous pouncing puss regardless.

True, the early XJs, while a breakthrough vehicle in terms of comfort, ride and handling, eventually turned all but the most resilient owners away when high repair costs and poor reliability set in. In 1989, Ford bought Jaguar as part of their global brand grab that later saw Aston Martin (1994), Volvo (1999) and Land Rover (2000) join their Premier Automotive Group. While that transformation may have been too much for some Jaguar traditionalists, it has nevertheless, introduced the marque to a whole new fold of owners.

Gone is the troublesome and expensive DOHC XK straight six that was the Jaguar mainstay since 1948. Now a whole new wave of Ford-sourced powerplants sit beneath the famous leaping cat including, wait for it, a twin-turbo V6 diesel.

Our test car, the new S-Type, first graced Australian roads back in 2000, but has been subject to almost continual upgrades and enhancements ever since. Although some test reports mention interior trim defects and a dislike for the apparently cramped cabin, our experience was largely without fault. The acclaimed 4.2 DOHC V8 (AJ34) produced satisfying performance and even a little growl when angry, the handling and braking were at least adequate for a luxury saloon and the interior, although not opulent, was stylish and restrained in a way that would not make the late and revered Sir William Lyons cringe.

However the most remarkable thing about the reincarnated S-Type is not the driving so much as the styling. It is certainly one of the more successful retro attempts typified by the likes of Mini and VW, incorporating all that was glamorous and alluring about the original 1963 model (pic right), including lashings of walnut on the dash.

The 21st Century Jaguar may be a vast engineering departure from yore, but there’s enough of the spirit of Coventry in this S-Type to keep the pipe-and-deerstalker-hat brigade engaged while stacking itself up against the formidable competition from BMW 5-Series or Lexus GS.

We liked:

  • Cool retro styling
  • Satisfying performance/handling package
  • Quiet, comfortable ride

Not so thrilled about:

  • Footwells small
  • Little steering feedback
  • J-Gate Transmission not for everybody

Report by Rod Eime.

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buy a used or new jaguar from a factory dealer in great condition. It's a luxury sports saloon fast and comfortable.