- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

The Jaguar S-Type now has greater emphasis on handling, technology and craftsmanship. The high-performance flagship model leading Jaguar's way is the S-Type R.
From its elegantly designed exterior sheetmetal to its well-appointed luxurious interior, the 2003 S-Type R is loaded with personality. But the real charm is turned on when the driver turns over the engine. The R is a flagship performer with its nearly 400-horsepower V-8 engine, six-speed transmission, 18-inch wheels and big Brembo brakes.
There are three models available in the 2003 S-Type lineup. The $42,495 entry-level model is powered by a 240-horsepower V-6; the $49,975 model comes with a 4.2-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower under the hood; and as mentioned, the most exciting of the three is the $62,400 S-Type R.
My test-drive model is Jaguar's new supercharged R derivative. The 32-valve, 4.2-liter V-8 supercharger has horsepower ratings of 390 at 6,100 rpm and 399 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm.
A manual transmission is not available with this powerplant, but the new six-speed automatic transmission offers quick, seamless gear changes.
The automaker reports that this 4,938-pound four-door model reaches 0-to-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
The S-Type R is a rear-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan that comes with a sports suspension and Jaguar's ride and handling feature called Computer Active Technology Suspension. Nicknamed CATS, the system has been enhanced to improve stability during cornering and braking. The Brembo brakes and CATS ride and handling system are exclusive to the R performance model.
I like the way the exterior stylists have distinguished the look of the R from that of the other two S-Type models. There are several exterior subtleties, ones that when put together as a whole make the R derivative appear dramatically revised from the normally aspirated 3.0 V-6 and 4.2 V-8 versions.
As I approached my tester, the cherry-color paint rich and seductive warmed my heart. The darkened mesh wire front grille was exceptionally well-executed by exterior designers, giving the S-Type's oval grille the illusion of a heart-shaped frame. The message to my subconscious was persuasive: "I'm loving this car!"
Other unique features on the S-Type R include a body-colored grille surround, a rear hood spoiler and a specially designed front air intake grille. This ultrahigh-performance Jaguar model sports 18-inch Zeus alloy wheels and a red "R" logo, which is also featured on the automaker's Formula One racing car.
The Jaguar has many fine appointments on the inside, marked by a beautiful cream-colored leather interior. Again, the S-Type R bears exclusive arrangements, such as a distinctive grey-stained bird's-eye maple veneer and 16-way power adjustable front seats. Smaller stature drivers would be interested to know that the S-Type R comes standard with power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals.
Jaguar has eliminated the use of a handbrake. Instead, the automaker has replaced the conventional lever with an electronic parking brake.
The new handbrake is located on the center console between the front bucket seats and is a crescent-shaped chrome latch about the size of a child's palm.
By getting rid of the old-fashioned long sticklike handbrake lever, Jaguar has set a new benchmark for an uncluttered space-saving interior environment.
The R derivative is well-loaded with fine amenities, including a 320-watt premium sound system and moonroof. The only options are a DVD-based navigation and in-vehicle communications systems. There is no question left in my mind: Jaguar made certain its new S-Type R is endowed to make hearts grow ardent.

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