- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

The entry level S-Type Jaguar is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed automatic optionally available.

The midrange S-Type is a 4.2-liter, normally aspirated V-8 powered, four-door with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The cream of the crop is the S-Type R, with a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V-8 that generates 100 more horsepower than the unblown model, for an attention-grabbing total of 400, along with 98 more foot-pounds of torque, boosting that total to 408 foot-pounds.

Mike O'Driscoll, president of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover of North America, perhaps put it best, "The S-Type R firmly demonstrates our passion for fast, dynamic vehicles that give as much pleasure to drive as they do to own." The R is to Jaguar cars, what "M" models are to BMW, what AMG models are in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, and what "S" stands for with performance-oriented Porsches.

The flagship S-Type R is not only an ultrahigh-performance machine, but a sedate, refined and luxurious vehicle as well. In reality, the R serves a dual role that of understated, elegant transportation and/or delivering instantaneous power on a competitive level, capable of satisfying the demands of the most discriminating driving enthusiast.

The S-Type R comes equipped not only with a race-inspired engine, but with a sports-tuned suspension, race-engineered Brembo brakes and Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), which combine to provide optimal ride and handling characteristics.

Even the R's interior is executed in a sporting style, with a leather-trimmed R Performance steering wheel and 16-way adjustable sport seats. The front fascia is bolder and more aggressive, there's a rear spoiler integrated into the rear deck lid, the five-spoke, 18-inch "Zeus" alloy wheels solidify the ride and provide a positive visual case of attitude, while xenon headlamps light the way at night.

Also setting the R apart from normally aspirated S-Type models is a bright-finish cross-mesh front grille with a body-color-keyed surround and distinctive badging, featuring the same red R logo that appears on the nose cone of the new 2002 Jaguar R3 Formula One racer.

Pricing for the latest S-type begins at $42,495 for the 3.0, V-6, five-speed manual example. The more coveted S-Type R with its supercharged, 400-horsepower V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission has its base price set at $62,400, which includes as standard fare: the Premium package; a power moonroof with privacy shade; xenon headlights; Premium sound system; heated front seats; and destination and delivery charges.

The S-Type R epitomizes Jaguar's art of performance with a slight edge of aggression. It visually stirs one's emotions and physically induces an adrenaline rush in terms of its delivery of positive performance attributes.

The interior reflects an exceptionally high-level ambience with a tasteful and harmonious blend of leather, chrome and grey-stained bird's-eye maple, polished wood veneer accents that includes a new full-width instrument panel trim. The 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels and performance tires are surely suggestive of the car's capabilities, but the 20-inch two-piece alloys that the XKR travels on would issue the ultimate statement. Some observers expressed displeasure with the car's rear license-plate surround, likening it to that of a Ford Taurus in reality, it's the other way around, with Ford copying Jaguar.

Other noteworthy new S-Type features include electronically adjustable pedals and an electronic parking brake with fully automatic operation, located on the center console.

All S-Type configurations for 2003 are impressive in their own right, but the R version should clearly be rated as the epitome of automotive lust and desire in the sedan segment. The R sports a stunning yet subtle look with instant acceleration, rapid braking and highly supportive and comfortable seats.

The R stays flat and stable through tight, twisting turns at speed with positive, on-center steering input. It's possible, but extremely difficult, to lose control while piloting the R with all the stability enhancements and safety technology onboard at some point however, the laws of physics will inevitably come into play.

Driving an S-Type R becomes an addictive endeavor within a very brief period, so exercise caution should you decide to take one for a test spin. The R version is expected to account for 10 percent to 15 percent of total S-Type sales with U.S.-bound models wearing the legendary hood-mounted "leaper." The S-Type R roars with authority.

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