dates : 8th August 2004
12th August 2004
Jaguar S-Type R is like no other luxury performance car. It
manages to retain its old-world English charm, while providing
a totally captivating driving experience that, in its way, is
right up there with top performance models from the likes of
Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The basic S-Type has been around for a good couple of years
now, and in R form since 2002.
But new styling updates have given this ultimate performance
Jaguar a leaner, tauter look, in keeping with its crouching
cat styling theme.
The biggest changes were made this year, with the new revised
version going on sale in April. And although the changes are
subtle, they required many different body panels.
It now features an aluminum bonnet, replacing the steel bonnet
used before. The restyled bonnet blends into new headlight
surrounds, the headlights being self-adjusting bi-xenon units.
And there is a new, crisp bumper style and gaping intakes for
the engine radiator and the oil coolers.
In fact the supercharged V8 R has no fog lights, as these
apertures were used for the oil-cooling ducting.
The main grille has been redesigned too, and the sporty R uses
the steel mesh trim to denote its Le Mans heritage and the
very real power of its supercharged V8 engine.
On the side of the car, the door sills have been redesigned to
be less fussy, and the rear end, towards the tail lamps, is
cleaner and more aggressive.
The tail of the car has less drop-off than previously, as the
boot line has been raised. There is also a new bumper and the
boot is given a subtle spoiler treatment.
The interior has also gone on a refresher course, with a new
instrument panel with old-world round dials and two digital
The S-Type still lacks the large television-navigation panels
fitted to most of its competitors these days, and some may see
this as a bit of an omission. But that will probably come with
the next all new S-Type due in a year or two.
Others may welcome the fact that the modern age has not
encroached fully on the Jaguar interior. There is still the
marvelous use of leather and thick carpeting, although for the
first time trim panels can be ordered in textures other than
There is plenty of bright metal trim in the R version, hinting
at its sporting prowess, and obviously loads luxury too, such
as heated seats, individual climate control, top level audio,
and a full complement of airbags, as wells as seats specially
designed to prevent whiplash.
In fact the whole cockpit has evolved into a very tight,
well-orchestrated design, and like the exterior, panel fit and
material qualities are far better than when the car was
launched in 1999.
Of course there has never been much to criticize on the
mechanical front and experiencing the S-Type R in its 2004
form was a task that Clint really relished.
Rear wheel drive and traction control that is able to be
switched off made for lots of fun in the safe confines of the
Wesbank Raceway. Especially with all two ninety-eight
kilowatts on tap from the supercharged four-litre motor.
The engine has a wonderful Jekyll and Hyde character. On small
throttle openings it’s a pussycat.
But when the supercharger kicks in, it becomes a growler –incidentally
the same term Jaguar executives use to describe the snarling
cat badge fixed on the nose and the steering wheel.
Initial understeer – or front-wheel sliding, can be switched
to wild oversteer if enough power is dialed-in to the rear
Handling is very controllable, but for novice R owners, it’s
advised that they keep the traction control switch in the
"on" position – at least on public roads.
The car is quick through fast corners, with good chassis
balance, but a bit of a handful in the tighter bends, despite
the weight reduction in front due to the aluminium bonnet.
Fat, low-profile rubber is used on beautiful 18-inch alloy
wheels, but despite having very impressive drilled brake discs
and large calipers, the brakes tend to fade too quickly if the
Jaguar is pushed this hard.
As the car is available only as a six-speed automatic, albeit
with a manual override, it also lacks some of the engine
braking effect you get with a pure manual model.
Acceleration is in the sports car league – zero to 100 in
five comma three seconds, and an electronically limited top
speed of 250, which it can achieve with consummate ease – on
a racetrack of course!
Around town the S Type can be used as a docile cruiser, and
Jaguar claims an overall consumption figure of 12,5 litres per
100 km. We found this to be very optimistic, and a realistic
figure would be in the 15 litres to 19 litres per hundred
kilometres, depending on the pressure of your right foot.
Driving in the city, and out on the freeway too, the cabin
gives one a cosy, cosseted feel that is very retro. Not
perfect as far as space usage goes, but wonderful in terms of
All in all, a worthy continuation of the Jaguar performance
legend, combining excellent levels of comfort with riveting
At six hundred and thirty five thousand, five hundred rand it’s
not cheap, but Jaguars are gaining more and more acceptance
once again at the top of the premium-level sedan class.
And if you can afford the top-level R version of the S-Type,
we’d have no hesitation in recommending it.
Car Torque is