- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

With a price tag in the neighborhood of $43,000 to $49,000, it may not exactly be "every man's" Jaguar, but the S-Type is certainly affordable to a new tier of luxury buyers.
As no other model in Jaguar's history, it has affected the way people think about the brand. While it has spread out buyers within Jaguar's owner body, the S-Type is also attracting a number of buyers who would have otherwise shopped elsewhere.
It is no secret Ford owns Jaguar and the S-Type was developed in conjunction with the Lincoln LS. In fact, the smaller of the two S-Type engines offered is a Ford power plant. The S-Type, however, is bolted together in England and more than lives up to Jaguar traditions. It is no pretender to the Leaping Cat on its hood.
Based on a decades-old design, the S-Type's exterior styling is fresh and compelling. First introduced as a 2000 model, few changes have been made for 2001, but the 10-spoke wheels are a new addition. The traditional themes are carried inside where real wood accents, thick carpet and acres of leather converge, creating a rich, club-like atmosphere. Too much time spent driving this sedan probably won't have you uttering phrases such as "jolly good" and "to the hounds," but the feel is decidedly British.
The regular four-wheel independent suspension (a $1,100 sport suspension option is available) produces a quiet, smooth ride. A new speed-sensitive steering system is standard this year. Even without it, the S-Type's steering response was quick and sure. The new system is designed for less resistance at lower speeds and a more accurate progression of steering feel as the speed increases. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes with traction control are also standard.
Creating the $6,000 disparity between the two S-Type versions are a number of features such as a glass sunroof and a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer.
The most apparent difference, though, is under the hood. The less pricey of the S-Types comes with the Ford-derived 240-horsepower V-6, while the more luxurious model is armed with the same 281-horsepower 4-liter V-8 powering the XJ8.
My latest encounter with the S-Type was a week behind the wheel of a 4-liter version. Performance isn't sacrificed for luxury in this Jaguar. Its five-speed automatic transmission hustles engine output to the rear wheels. Putting a foot into the throttle when the light turns green is rewarded with a genuine burst of acceleration. Reaching 60 mph from a standstill requires just less than seven seconds.
Loads of sound insulation and the smooth operation of the V-8 produces this scalded-cat acceleration without a lot of commotion filtering into the passenger compartment. Driving around town will only garner about 17 miles to the gallon, but on the highway, the folks at the Environmental Protection Agency say, you can expect to average about 23 mpg.
Leather and wood are the mainstays of the S-Type cabin. Firm, supportive seats hold their occupants upright even during more acute maneuvering. Taller passengers will appreciate the generous headroom, while adults may find rear seat legroom a bit cramped. Three adults can fit across the rear seat, but probably only for shorter jaunts.
All of the switch gear and gauges are well-placed for the driver. Visibility is excellent as well. A low lift-over makes accessing the trunk less of a chore, but here too, a little more space would be appreciated. The S-Type does have a 60/40 split folding rear seat to increase trunk capacity when the rear seat isn't housing passengers.
Jaguar has succeeded in creating an appealing, more affordable sedan, and it gives up nothing in performance or luxury to achieve this. It accelerates with gusto, handles crisply and coddles its passengers in traditional British comfort.
Base price of the S-Type 4-liter is $49,355. Standard features not yet mentioned include dual power outboard mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, four-speaker AM/FM stereo/ cassette/CD changer, redundant steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power door locks with remote keyless entry, dual front air bags, dual front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, eight-way power front seats with two-way power lumbar support, garage door opener, auto-dimming day/night rearview mirror and two-position driver's seat memory.
My test S-Type also had the $2,000 navigation system. Adding this plus the $595 delivery charge brought the price as tested to $51,950.

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