Jaguar's midlevel rear-wheel-drive sedan got a subtle but full redesign for 2005, resulting in what Jaguar called a "cleaner, leaner, more muscular look." Aluminum is used for the hood, and Jaguar says considerably tighter panel fits appear on this version than on prior models. Jaguar made the S-Type more rigid for diesel-engine applications in Europe, and American models benefit as well. For the first time on the S-Type, the interior could be trimmed with high-tech aluminum rather than traditional wood trim.
Positioned between the company's compact X-Type and full-size XJ in size and price, the S-Type comes in three versions with distinct engines: a 3.0-liter V-6, a 4.2-liter V-8 or a supercharged V-8 for the S-Type R.
For the 2006 model year, Jaguar's 4.2-liter V-8 earns a boost to 300 horsepower, while the supercharged R delivers 400 hp. Like other Jaguar models, the S-Type gets a chrome mesh grille. A new Conti-Teves foundation braking system promises improved stopping distance and pedal feel. Sirius Satellite Radio and Bluetooth wireless technology are available.
The S-Type's grille is lower than on pre-2005 models, and it sits more upright. Displaying a round Jaguar badge, it incorporates horizontal vanes and slim vertical chrome vanes. Round taillamps help display what Jaguar calls a "more technical look [and] more presence." Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires (18-inch on R models).
Mesh inserts are fitted in place of fog lamps in the S-Type R to allow air to reach the car's twin oil coolers. The R edition also features a trunk spoiler, twin tailpipes and Jaguar's Enhanced Computer Active Technology Suspension, which uses adjustable dampers. R models feature standard xenon headlights with automatic self-leveling.
Five occupants fit inside, and the driver faces chronograph-style dials. Dual-zone climate control and an electrically adjustable steering column are standard. Satellite navigation, adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, Front Park Assist and adaptive cruise control are optional, but all S-Type sedans have Reverse Park Control. The electric parking brake features an incline sensor.
Under the Hood
Jaguar's 3.0-liter V-6 produces 235 hp, and the 4.2-liter V-8 generates 300 hp. The supercharged V-8 in the S-Type yields 400 hp — sufficient to yield a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 5.3 seconds. All three versions use a ZF six-speed-automatic transmission. Traction control is standard.
In addition to side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, the S-Type features Jaguar's Adaptive Restraint Technology System. Antilock brakes include emergency brake assist, and Dynamic Stability Control is standard.
Road behavior is especially appealing in the S-Type R, but all models deliver a refined motoring experience. Acceleration with the R's supercharged engine is smooth and easy, sending the sedan to passing speeds promptly and effortlessly.
Body lean in curves is barely noticeable. The S-Type R stays as flat as any reasonable sedan owner could want. Ride quality beats many performance sedans, though stiffness can be noticed when passing over some holes and bumps. On slightly wavy pavement, the ride is smooth. Some tire noise is apparent on certain road surfaces. The seats are snugly bolstered and highly supportive, though cushioning in the S-Type R seems a tad below par.