2008 S-TYPE New Car Test Drive
The 2008 model year will be the last for the Jaguar S-Type. Its replacement, the sharper-edged, more contemporary-looking XF, has arrived. So if the rounded, retro lines of the S-Type have oozed into your heart, this is your last chance to bring one home brand-new. You could buy another mid-size luxury sedan with similar performance, but you won't find another that looks anything like this. And that, really, is the point of any Jaguar: If you are charmed by its looks, then there is no alternative.
But even from a more objective point of view, we like the Jaguar S-Type. It's a comfortable car, it handles well, and it makes a statement when it pulls up to a five-star hotel. The base 3.0-liter V6 delivers responsive performance, thanks partly to the superb six-speed automatic transmission. Opt for the 4.2 model and you get thrilling performance from its powerful V8 engine. If that isn't enough, you can spring for the high-performance S-Type R, which boasts a supercharged engine, adaptive sports suspension, and bigger front brakes.
Jaguar is marking the S-Type's departure with some final styling changes. All 2008 S-Types will wear the more conspicuously racy three-scoop front bumper that formerly belonged exclusively to the super-performance S-Type R. Eighteen-inch wheels have also been made standard; and 19's are now optional on base V6 and V8 models, and standard on the R. Additionally, the final 750 S-Types produced will be specially equipped Satin Editions, with distinctive interior trim and exterior colors.
We'll miss the S-Type which, in its ten year life span improved in some way almost every year. Even when it was launched in 1999 we praised its beautiful exterior and rich interior, and enthused over its sporty handling. Jaguar re-engineered the S-Type for 2003, and again revamped its styling for 2005, when the wonderful ZF six-speed automatic transmission became standard across the range. Additional refinements arrived with the 2006 models: The premium-level 4.2 liter V8 was re-tuned just slightly to deliver a nicely even 300 and 400 horsepower in its naturally aspirated and supercharged forms, respectively. At the same time, both the base 3.0-liter V6 and the atmospheric V8 achieved ULEV emissions status. And a new Conti-Teves braking system promised even more stopping power. Last year, 2007, saw significant upgrades in standard equipment.
Jaguar offers three S-Type models for 2008, distinguished primarily by their engines. Each comes with rich leather upholstery and all the other features associated with a premium luxury car. All come with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The S-Type 3.0 ($48,335) is powered by a 235-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Standard equipment also includes automatic dual-zone climate control; one-touch tilt-and-slide power glass sunroof; 140-watt AM/FM/CD stereo; burl walnut interior trim; leather seats with contrasting piping; heated front seats with multiple power adjustments for the driver and passenger; power adjustable wood-and-leather steering wheel; power-adjustable pedals; memory system for seat, pedals, outside mirrors and steering column; split folding rear seat; power windows; remote central locking; electrochromic mirrors inside and out; rain-sensing windshield wipers; Reverse Park Control; programmable garage-door opener; and, new for 2008, 18-inch alloy wheels. Nineteen-inch wheels are optional ($1200).
The S-Type 4.2 ($55,835) comes with a powerful, 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V8, plus a 320-watt Alpine premium stereo with six-CD changer; DVD-based satellite navigation; Bluetooth connectivity; xenon headlamps with automatic leveling; Front Park Control; additional seat adjustability; burl walnut gear selector knob; electric rear sunblind; and foot well rugs embroidered with the Jaguar logo. Standard wheels are still 18-inch but are of a different design, and 19-inch rims are again optional.
The high-performance S-Type R ($64,335) gets a 400-horsepower supercharged version of the same 4.2-liter V8 and most (but not all) of the standard 4.2's amenities. Chassis upgrades include Jaguar's enhanced Computer Active Suspension (eCATS), bigger brake discs up front, and new 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside are performance-style seats, a ski hatch in the rear seat, and new Satin Mahogany woodwork replacing last year's gray-stained bird's-eye maple. The shift knob is leather-covered and there's no wood on the steering wheel. Stainless exhaust tips, a trunk lid spoiler, and the deletion of some exterior brightwork alert the outside world to your intentions.
A Luxury Package ($3,000), exclusively for the R-model, adds Adaptive Cruise Control and reverts to a more traditional walnut-burl interior theme. It also adds soft-grain leather with contrasting piping, and includes an electric rear sunblind and premium foot well rugs; and restores bright exterior trim to the bumper blades, grille surround, mirror caps, and side window frames.
Optional across the range is Sirius Satellite Radio ($450). 3.0-liter models can be upgraded with a Navigation/Bluetooth Package ($2,800), auto-leveling xenon headlamps ($675), and Front Park Control ($250). Adaptive Cruise Control is offered as a stand-alone ($2,200) on the R. Special-order paint and trim ($1,000) are available for any S-Type.
The final run of 750 3.0 and 4.2 models will be Satin Editions, with matt-finish Satin Mahogany veneers in the dash and doors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a chrome-and-leather shift knob. Five exterior colors will be offered (Ebony, Liquid Silver, Lunar Grey, Radiance, and Porcelain) with a choice of Champagne/Mocha or Charcoal/Charcoal interior trim.
For safety, all S-Types come with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with traction control; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); frontal, seat-mounted side-impact, and side-curtain airbags; and Jaguar's Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS) which uses ultrasound (in addition to the usual sensors) to collect data on the size and position of front-seat occupants before deploying the airbags with appropriate force.
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