The Jaguar S-Type was an executive car that debuted at the 1998 Birmingham Motor Show and was marketed by Jaguar for model years 1999-2008, reviving the nameplate of the company's 1963-68 S-Type as a four-door notchbacksaloon. The S-Type received a mild facelift for model year 2005. The 2002 S-Type 4.2 Supercharged V8 at the time, was the fastest road production saloon car in the world. The S-Type was discontinued in late 2007 and replaced by the XF.
After being privatised in 1984, Jaguar had been developing a smaller saloon to complement the XJ6 by the early 1990s, but these plans were axed following its takeover by Ford in 1989, only to resurface within a few years.
The first S-Types ("X200" 1999–2002) are distinguished by a U-shaped centre console and optional touch-screen navigation system in the 2003 and later models. The traditional leaping jaguar hood ornament was optional even though it is approved by the US and EU standards and breaks away in the case of an accident. Subsequent models ("X202", "X204", "X206"; the last digit denoting the model year) have the Jaguar logo incorporated within the radiator grille and a more traditional 'looped' styling for the centre console. In Australia, the "jag" bonnet ornament did not become available until 2004.
The superchargedS-Type R (Jaguar STR for short) joined the lineup in 2002, and the hope was that it would compete with BMW's M5 and the Mercedes E55 AMG. The R was powered by the newly revised hand-built 4.2-Litre V8 with an Eaton M112 supercharger, producing 400 hp (298 kW; 406 PS) and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.3 seconds (0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.6 s). The top speed was limited to 155 mph. With the electronic limiter removed, the S-Type R could reach 191 mph, and with simple supercharger pulley upgrades and ECU modifications, can be tuned to produce in excess of 500 bhp with a top speed in excess of 200 mph. It included 18-inch (457-millimeter) alloy wheels, wire-mesh grille, and monochromatic paint. The R also has a rear apron, side-skirts, and front apron with built-in fog-lamps, a rear spoiler, a brace located near the rear subframe, and R badging on the boot lid and both front fenders (wings).
Later models of the S-Type R featured a revised pulley system for the Eaton M112 supercharger, allowing it to produce an extra 20 hp (15 kW; 20 PS).
Also added on the 2003 model was an electronic parking-brake paddle-switch that replaced the conventional manually operated lever for the rear brakes. For the 2003 model year, the Jaguar S-type was given a six-speed, automatic ZF 6HP26 transmission as well as a revised 3.0-litre V6 engine with 235 hp (175 kW) (US spec) versus 210 hp (157 kW) for the 1999 to 2002 models. The 2003 model featured a revised dash, centre console, and a grille with the Jaguar badge to give the vehicle a more Jaguar-like appearance, and a flip-open key was devised for the ignition.
A minor facelift on the 2005 model year featured redesigned front and rear aprons, a slightly modified grille, remodeled rear light clusters, an aluminium bonnet, and a new 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine with 207 hp (154 kW). The windscreen washer jets were incorporated into the windscreen wiper arms. There were no changes made to the cabin interior. 2006 to 2008 models featured no fog lights.
The S-Type was powered by a variety of petrol and diesel engines. At launch, the V8 S-Type was powered by the 4.0L Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, the capacity of which was increased to 4.2L in 2002. Variants of this engine are used in Ford, Lincoln, Land Rover/Range Rover and Aston Martin models. V6 engines used are the Ford Duratec unit which is used extensively throughout the Ford model range (and in Ford subsidiary companies). The 2.5 L V6 engine was not available for vehicles exported to the United States and Canada. Diesel engines are the Ford/Peugeot 2.7L HDi Ford AJD-V6/PSA DT17 which is used in a number of Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar and Land Rover models.
From model years 1999 to 2002, the rear-wheel-drive S-Type was equipped with either a five-speed manual (Getrag 221) or a five-speed J-GateFord 5R55N transmission . From 2003, the S-Type was produced with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a six-speed J-Gate transmission that allows automatic gear selection or clutchless manual gear selection. The 2004 diesel saw the introduction of a 6-speed manual transmission; it was also available with the six-speed J-Gate automatic transmission.
The car was praised on its release for having a 'luxurious interior', 'creamy composure' and a 'class-leading' 'cosseting ride'. In particular, the 2.7 V6 twin-turbodiesel engine was described as 'a paragon of refinement, quietness, and fuel economy' by the European automotive press, with enough 'refinement and performance to wean anyone off petrol power'. The supercharged 'R' version was also praised for its speed and for 'proper rear-drive Jag' handling, however the lack of a limited-slip differential was criticised, along with whine from the Eaton supercharger. The car was described as the spiritual successor to both the Mark 2 and the Ford Scorpio, inviting unfavourable comparisons to the Scorpio concerning the controversial styling of the S-Type.
However, in general the initial positive reception faded away as time passed, and the car attracted significantly more negative commentary as it aged. James May elaborated on this, saying in 2004 that 'in 15 or 20 years time we'll look at the S-Type, and we'll think 'That's really awful'', while Jeremy Clarkson replied 'I think the S-type is basically like Beaujolais nouveau - awful when it came out and then just gets steadily worse as time passes'. In addition, Jeremy Clarkson also panned the car in 2003 as 'Jaguar's weakest hour', and the 'weakest Jaguar ever', and said that he particularly disliked the styling, while James May harshly criticised the car, saying that he believed it was designed to appeal to the American and German markets, and that the styling pandered to common stereotypes of the United Kingdom held in those countries. Describing the radiator grille as 'goppingly awful', he said that the car 'sums up everything that's wrong with Jaguar', and that the vehicle annoyed him and was bettered by its successor.
The retro styling, 'drawing upon classic Jag styling cues', was very controversial on release, inviting more unfavourable comparisons to the Rover 75. Described by contemporary reviewers as 'not 100% successful', 'awkward', 'badly proportioned... with a wheel or two in the past', 'outdated', and 'distinctive' by pundits, the heavily criticised styling significantly dented the image of the car and may have reduced the Jaguar brand's appeal among younger buyers. However, some reviewers defended its 'retro Jaguar lines' as 'ageing pretty well', 'characterful', 'classical', 'nostalgic', and 'typical Jaguar', and said that the car "looked like it had just driven off the set of The Sweeney".
Richard Hammond described the car as 'hideous' and 'like something washed up on a beach', while James May said that it 'looks like a dead cod', and Jeremy Clarkson concluded that it was the worst-looking car on sale in 2004, although he did praise the diesel engine.
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^"Top Gear". 5. Series 5. Episode 5. 21 November 2004. 40 minutes in. BBC. BBC Two. It's the Jaguar S-Type diesel and it's getting hugely good press. Everyone is saying that it's (sic) twin-turbo 2.7L engine is a paragon of refinement, and quietness, and of course, fuel economy
^"Top Gear". 4. Series 4. Episode 6. 13 June 2004. BBC. BBC Two. So in about... 15 or 20 years time we'll look at the S-Type, and we'll think 'That's really awful'... We will... I think the S-type is basically like Beaujolais nouveau - awful when it came out and then just gets steadily worse as time passes. That's a shame... Now you've brought the S-Type up, time to move on...
^"Top Gear". 3. Series 3. Episode 9. 28 December 2003. BBC. BBC Two. Oh I didn't like any of that car actually... no it was Jaguar's weakest hour, who agrees with me, that was the weakest Jaguar ever... Yes absolutely, they should just drop it from a great height and be done with it...
^"Top Gear". 10. Series 10. Episode 10. 23 December 2007. 1 minutes in. BBC. BBC Two. Retrieved 16 August 2017. It sums up everything that's wrong with Jaguar... what they did with the S-Type was to make a car that they hoped would appeal to Germans and Americans... Mr. Jonathan Foreigner has this ridiculously outdated view of what Britain is... It's rubbish! And Jaguar absolutely pandered to this view with the S-Type. Just look at that retro grille - it's goppingly awful.
^"Jaguar S-Type"(PDF). The Automobile Association. July 1999. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
^"Top Gear". 4. Series 4. Episode 5. 6 June 2004. 7 minutes in. BBC. BBC Two. Petrol has passed the £1/liter mark..., but it's a good time for Jaguar to launch the new S-Type diesel... It is a very good time, but I'm not sure, no matter how good the engine is, that I'd go for that one. Yeah you see we're missing something aren't we, let's be absolutely honest, it is, as Jeremy's demonstrating (Clarkson impersonates the S-Type radiator grille with his mouth), hideous! It does look exactly like that, it is hideous! I think it looks like a dead cod, it does look like something washed up on a beach. Can anybody think of a car, currently available that's uglier than an S-Type Jag?... Honestly, I really do believe that is the ugliest car that money can buy, great new engine, we don't care.