2003 S-TYPE New Car Test Drive
Jaguar has re-engineered its S-Type sedan for 2003, but the differences are hard to see visually, at least from the outside. Driving it, however, reveals a big improvement in responsiveness, ride quality, and vehicle dynamics. Revisions to the interior bring improved comfort and convenience.
An exciting new S-Type R now rides at the top of the model line with a powerful supercharged engine, a sports suspension, and big Brembo brakes. But it's not necessary to spring for the R model to benefit from the improvements: The standard S-Type 4.2 delivers thrilling performance in its own right along with all of the class expected of a Jaguar.
Though transmissions seldom generate excitement, a new six-speed automatic transforms the 2003 S-Type cars, making them extremely responsive and an absolute joy to drive, whether quietly motoring around town, covering great distances, or attacking backcountry roads. The new six-speed automatic is available throughout the entire S-Type line and is the same transmission used in the new BMW 7 Series.
Jaguar's S-Type rear-wheel-drive sedans compete with such mid-size luxury cars as the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The S-Type's distinctive styling won't be confused with anything else, and you're less likely to see a Jaguar in your neighbor's driveway. Inside, they offer lovely interiors with comfortable seats swathed in leather. They ride very smoothly and are capable of making the driver feel better after getting out of the car than he or she felt before getting into it.
Dynamically, the new Jaguar doesn't have quite the edge of a BMW 5 Series, but the performance advantages of the BMW are mainly evident when using stopwatches at a racing circuit. What's easier to measure is the price differential, and here the Jaguar shines.
Three models comprise the S-Type range, distinguished primarily by their engines: 3.0 liter, 4.2 liter, and the high-performance R. Each model comes fully equipped with rich leather upholstery and all the other features associated with a premium luxury car. For 2003, all S-Type models boast new interiors, new suspensions, new transmissions, and new or revised engines.
S-Type 3.0 ($42,495) is powered by a revised 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. It comes standard with a new Getrag five-speed manual transmission. It's also available with the new ZF six-speed automatic ($43,875).
Option packages: Premium ($1500) includes adjustable pedals, power passenger lumbar support, electrochromic outside and inside mirrors, programmable garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, memory system; Sport ($2000) includes Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), 17-inch sport alloy wheels, body-colored exterior trim, gray-stained birds-eye maple interior trim, sport shift knob, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, sport seats; Communication package ($2250) includes portable cellular telephone, JaguarNet emergency messaging system, voice-activated controls. Standalone options: power moon roof ($1100); xenon headlamps ($675); premium sound system ($1800); heated front seats ($500); DVD navigation system ($2200).
S-Type 4.2 ($49,975) is powered by a new 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 (substantially more powerful than last year's engine). The V8 comes with the six-speed automatic. Standard features include the power moonroof and Premium package listed above.
S-Type R ($62,400) is powered by a new 400-horsepower supercharged 4.2-liter V8 mated to the six-speed automatic. In addition to the features found on the 4.2, the R model comes loaded with the xenon headlamps, premium sound system, and heated front seats.