- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jaguar Cars S-Type sedan now comes in five models: The first, or entry-level, S-Type is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6. There is also a V-6 Sport version S-Type. Next is an S-Type with a 4.2-liter, normally aspirated V-8 with added horsepower for 2006 (300), This is followed by my personal favorite — the S-Type R, with a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V-8 that kicks the horsepower output up to 400; and finally is the flagship VDP (for Vanden Plas) — new to the S-Type stable.

Vanden Plas represents the ultimate level of luxurious surroundings across the entire Jaguar car lineup. It focuses on luxury and elegance, while the S-Type R concentrates on ultrahigh performance, though it’s no slouch in the understated, elegant transportation department. The Vanden Plas draws its motive power from the normally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 that now kicks out a healthy 300 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque, which mates to an electronically controlled ZF six-speed automatic with gated manual shifting capability. The plush midsize S-Type is rear-wheel drive.

New for the 2006 model year S-Types: a new front end with a chrome mesh grille insert; a one-touch power moon roof; front park control; and ARTS.

Some observers have expressed displeasure with the car’s rear license plate surround, likening it to that of a Ford Taurus — from my perspective, it’s actually the other way around, with Ford mimicking Jaguar’s surround treatment.

Other noteworthy S-Type features include an electronic parking brake with fully automatic operation, located on the center console, with a movable storage bin that slides back to reveal cup holders.

The S-Type test sedan was the VDP version finished in a rich Radiance Red metallic, complemented by a two-toned leather interior Champagne and Mocha, with added piping in the darker Mocha. The base price was set at $51,830 while the Navigation and Bluetooth package, VDP package, satellite radio and transportation and handling fee increased the final total to $59,245.

All S-Types are impressive in their own right, but the R version should clearly be rated as the epitome of automotive lust and desire in the midsize sedan market for those attuned to performance.

The Vanden Plas is more subtle in its look but delivers instant acceleration and rapid braking attributes that are not to be taken lightly, while at the same time providing a richer, more elegant interior.

OK, there are no polished wood picnic trays for those in the back seat as in the XJ Vanden Plas, but the XJ costs considerably more.

The Vanden Plas welcomes tight, twisting turns at speed (perhaps not with the same panache as the R which remains totally flat and stable throughout with positive, on-center steering input).

Driving the S-Type Vanden Plas is a most pleasurable endeavor, so exercise caution should you decide to take one for a test drive — it truly does offer affordable elegance. U.S. bound S-Type models proudly wear the legendary hood-mounted “leaper.” The S-Type continues to issue an authoritative roar in its pursuit of Jaguar’s classic design philosophy — “Less is more” — and now for less money. Can it get any better than that?

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