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2005 Jaguar S-Type 4.2 Road Test

February 14, 2005
2005 Jaguar S-Type 4.2 Road Test
By John LeBlanc, Auto123.com
Not that I have a lot of sympathy for anyone born into royalty, but Chuck and Diane's second son Harry seems to be needing some attention lately. What with the costume malfunction, excessive carousing, and all-around general Royal-like behaviour.

Sympathy? Well, imagine if you were born into a family where tradition and protocol gird your every move. Where expectations are high and your behaviour is looked upon with chauvinistic criticisms at every turn. And from your deep genetic pool, you've been bestowed with looks that are deemed as "full of character". Of course, I'm not talking about a spoiled blue-blood, but of Jaguar's S-Type.

2005 Jaguar S-Type 4.2 (photo: John Leblanc)
Along with its Ford sugar daddies, Jaguar was resolutely criticized by the automotive press for moving downmarket and for not being a true "Jag-you-rrr" when the S-Type was unveiled in 1999.

It was the company's first all-new mid-size, luxury sports sedan in thirty years. A lot of the whinging came from the fact the new S-Type shares a platform with Lincoln's LS. The S-Type's styling, harking back to the Jaguar Mark II from the Swinging Sixties, was either seen as retro gone bad, or as an alternative to the cold, Germanic standards. The interiors of the cars, for the first few years, also did not live up to the traditional "Jag-you-rrr" expectations. Too much Detroit, not enough Coventry. Whatever. With total sales now over the 200,000 mark worldwide, Jaguar has managed to find enough image-conscious buyers whose idea of a mid-sized luxury sports sedan is a little off the beaten Autobahn.

Credit to Jaguar for sticking with its wild child. 2003 saw the S-Type receive a round of upgrades that included a new six-speed automatic transmission, stability control, and upgraded (that means "more powerful") engines, including the all-new supercharged 390 horsepower, 4.2-litre vee-eight S-Type R model. In 2004 Jaguar vehicles as a whole advanced seven positions in the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Satisfaction Index, to tie Lexus for the Number One position in the entire industry. The brand also became the highest-ranking European nameplate on the J. D. Power Initial Quality Survey for vehicle quality and dependability. For 2005 Jaguar has sent the mid-sized Coventry cat back to school yet again.

Returning this year is the three-model S-Type lineup. The 235 horsepower 3.0 vee-six ($62,795), the Q-ship R model ($84,995), and our test car, the "just right" 4.2 ($72,995), which comes with the naturally aspirated version of the R's mill.

2005 Jaguar S-Type 4.2 (photo: John Leblanc)
Also for 2005, head Jaguar penman, Ian McCallum, has given the S-Type some visual length by removing one of the several swathes that run down the length of the car. The front and rear fascias have also been tidied up, and the taillights have been adjusted for a tighter look. Jaguar claims the emperor's new clothes are a result of a reengineered body that makes for tighter panel fits throughout the car. To aid in the driving portion, weight distribution has been improved with the use of an aluminum hood. Despite its age, the S-Type still gets looks. Especially our test car's ice blue exterior matched to its tan insides, which seemed to reflect the non-aggressive nature of the S-Type.

Despite cheap Jaguar styling knockoffs from various brands as diverse as Buick to Kia, the S-Type still stands out as something special. Something a Jaguar should do.
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