By on December 3, 2007

08_s-type_02.jpgJaguar is a dead brand walking. Analysts blame stagnant styling for its sales somnambulism. To rectify the aesthetic deficit, the man behind the universally beloved Aston Martin range penned the universally beliked Jaguar XK (that looks like an Aston Martin) and the upcoming XF (that looks like a Volvo). While Jag fans hope the recently released XF will revive the brand’s fortunes, the model it replaces soldiers on for another year. I got cozy with the doomed 2008 4.2 liter V8 S-Type to see what no one– or everyone– seems to be missing.

We know where XF designer Ian Callum stands on the S-Type’s shape: “Our history is precious. We must learn from it but not copy it.” Callum is right about Xeroxing Jag’s heritage, but wrong about the S-Type. While the S-Type’s sheetmetal certainly evokes the same-named sedan of 1963, it’s a true original– especially after it “had some work done” back in '05. That's when Jag eliminated unnecessary frippery (e.g. the prominent door sills), toned-down stylistic excess (e.g. the hideous taillight cluster) and tightened the panel gaps. The streamlined result displays all the feline athleticism Jag fans expect and admire.

08_s-type_09.jpgThe S-Type's details now entrance, rather than annoy. The swan song 3.0 and 4.2 models get the supercharged S-Type R’s mesh oval grill, a delightful olde worlde sporty touch reminiscent of a wooden tennis racket. Jag's also blessed the lame duck lower level models with the R’s deeper, more aggressive front bumper and air dam. Taken as a whole, the cab-rearward S-Type may not be your cup of tea, but neither is it your father's Jag. 

The original S-Type’s cabin was a mess. Suffice it to say, it shared its radio head unit with the Ford Explorer. The current interior’s touch screen sat knavery and sumptuous materials make commoners feel like the Colonel of the Reds and Blues. Supple leather in muted tones covers the console, adorns the thrones and envelops the lower half of the steering wheel. There’s enough polished satin mahogany trim to build a fashionable end table. Chrome rings more chrome. There are private jets with less luxurious surrounds.

08_s-type_06.jpgThe S-Type 4.2’s engine has taken some stick for its stable yard. “A V8 that stumps-up 300 horses?” nay-sayers scoff. “You get more power from an Infiniti/Lexus/Cadillac V6.” Indeed you do, but that’s like saying a Powerbar is suitable nutritional replacement for dinner at a Michelin three-star restaurant. Yes, the S-Type 4.2 could be quicker. But few other V8s offer such linear power delivery, such creamy smoothness, such woofly sub-wooferage under WOT. And though the S-Type's mill is a few steeds short of Mercedes' E550, the Jag’s 6.2 second zero to 60 time is brisk enough to out-pace more plebeian transport. 

The S-Type's six-speed ZF auto is the same transmission that sits in Maserati’s Quattroporte Automatica. Which means nothing really, but why complain? The shifts are brisk and timely. Handling? Sitting on standard 18’s, the S-Type is balanced, predictable and jolly good fun. Although the S-Type's tyres cry Uncle early in the proceedings, electronic-intervention is minimal. Cane the old girl and you’ll be surprised to discover she’s game for laugh. You’ll chortle “I’m going sideways in a bloody Jaguar!” And you’re not even English. More importantly…

08_s-type_04.jpgBack in ’03, Jag’s chassis engineers realized they’d let the side down in the grace department, and set about reclaiming their brand’s dynamic heritage. At the front, unequal length wishbones now minimise track and camber changes, while the sedan's forged aluminium upper A-frame incorporates two fluid-block bushes and an integral ball joint for added refinement. The upper control arm axis is also inclined, providing improved anti-dive characteristics under heavy braking. Or so I'm told.

I’ll say this about that: the outgoing S-Type offers the finest ride in its class. Potholes, broken pavement and other egregious surface imperfections are dismissed with brand-faithful imperious ease. The S-Type’s magic carpet ride renders the car a perfect long distance executive commuter (save for its 121mph top end) and a suitable Town Car [sic] for ladies who lunch. The well judged variable ratio rack and pinion system handles either chore with equal aplomb.

08_s-type_03.jpgThe S-Type had a good innings; the model lasted two years longer than its eponymous forebearer. It’s easy to see why it failed, and then failed again. The S-Type wasn’t quite right out of the gate, and the subsequent sheetmetal and dynamic upgrades received no marketing support. The model also punched above its weight; priced at $56k, the S-Type lacked the horsepower, cachet and residual values needed to take on its highly evolved German competition. Priced lower…

The new XF will carry over much of the S-Type’s brilliant mechanicals underneath its insipid sheetmetal. Soon, you'll only be able to acquire one of these fine S-Type as a pre-owned model– which is the only sensible way to buy one anyway. In fact, it's a sterling chance to score a blood good bargain. Goodnight dear S-Type. I, for one, shall miss you. 

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74 Comments on “Jaguar S-Type Review...”


  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I feel sorry for Jaguar as they were never given a fair chance (Sandwiched between Volvo and Aston Martin) and yet they still make sensational cars. The X-Type is a joy to drive and I’ve driven the S-type and loved it too. Also, Jaguars are reasonably priced (you can pick S-Types up for £5K off), so it just baffles me why Jaguar are failing. I know reliability is one issue, but Renault’s reliability is appalling, yet they still remain afloat?

    The S-Type diesel is a wonder too. Very quiet (for a diesel) and very economical. Performance isn’t too shabby, either.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    If you had the money to buy a BMW, why would you buy a BMW when Jaguars are far superior?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Nothing about sticky wickets?

    “If you had the money to buy a BMW, why would you buy a BMW when Jaguars are far superior?”

    I don’t know that they’re superior but I’ve always liked Jags. I’m also suprised by the failure of the brand. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

  • avatar
    JJ

    If you had the money to buy a BMW, why would you buy a BMW when Jaguars are far superior?

    Well, because Jaguars are not superior…

    And they are failing because they are operating in the market segment where you need to be (perceived as) superior more than in any other market segment where price and maybe other things like warranty and availability are factors to buy a certain brand.

    If your spending this kind of money, choosing the right car and brand is such an important factor in the whole deal that 3rd or 4th best is just not good enough…Sure, the engine might move the car around and be smooth, but fact is they haven’t changed it in about 10 years. For instance, fuel economy is much worse than the Germans even if there is less power in the Jag. Maybe fuel economy still isn’t important for buyers of this car, but the technology deficit goes for a lot of components…

    Justified or not, people know/perceive that when they buy a Jag they are paying for old technology that is not on par with BMW, Audi and even Mercedes.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I always liked the S-Type but not enough to purchase one. It’s especially nice in Green. Never drove one, though.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Just to clarify a couple of points here. Reliability – forget the old Lucas jokes – they are completely old hat now. Today’s Jaguars are consistently rated very highly in all reliability surveys and indeed, ALWAYS beat the German brands. The only brand on a par with Jaguar is Lexus, and they even beat them in a recent IQS JD Power survey. On technology – whilst it might look ‘traditional’ the current XJ is one of the most tecnological cars in the segment – all-aluminium with state of the art technology such as radar-based cruise control, easy to use (ie NOT i-drive) touch screen system and high quality hi-fi. The new XF will blow people out of the water in this regard with an interior that has just been voted the best in the industry by Car Magazine combined with a wonderful exterior style that you have to see in the metal to really appreciate. So – all those of you out there still paying over the odds for your BMW and Mercedes, get some imagination and try something different. The Big Cat lives and will roar once more!!

  • avatar

    The cachet of the original S-type is that you had the exact same engine (3.8 litre XK), fully-independent suspension, and 4-wheel disc brakes of the legendary E-type Jaguar… in a luxurious wood & leather saloon body.

    The (lack-of) cachet of the current S-type is that you have a steel and plastic Ford Taurus tarted up with a few bits from the Jaguar parts bin. I’m sorry, a grille and leaper do not a Jaguar make.

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

  • avatar
    solbeam

    Jaguar until now seemed unable to move forward from its successful past.
    The S-Type, X-Type, XJ do look dated (retro).
    So for me the Jaguar Brand stands for “Grandmother Clock” cars.
    Park it next to a Renault, Citroen or BMW and People will think you are living in the past.

    Maybe the new cars will change that (XK, XF).
    I’m not quite sure if they are the right styling direction for Jaguar, we will see.

  • avatar

    ALWAYS beat the German brands

    Not exactly aiming high though.

    I haven’t seen one Jaguar finish higher than a Lexus on anything, but correct me if it’s happened somewhere.

    Since Jag has very little sporting pretensions (pace and grace), Lexus should be its benchmark, not Mercedes or BMW.

    As for the car, I could do without the prehistoric front styling, but I won’t deny that it always feels like a special occasion when I get to sit in a Jag.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    chuckgoolsbee :
    December 3rd, 2007 at 10:15 am

    The (lack-of) cachet of the current S-type is that you have a steel and plastic Ford Taurus tarted up with a few bits from the Jaguar parts bin. I’m sorry, a grille and leaper do not a Jaguar make.

    Sorry chuckgoolsbee, but that is plain wrong and stems from the fact that you haven’t driven the latest S-TYPE. The car has an aluminium hood, so out goes your steel comment, and no Ford Taurus parts at all. The Jaguar parts bin you refer to is that same as the Mercedes parts bin and the BMW parts bin – where else are you meant to get parts from?
    Suggest you go and try one out before throwing too much mud.
    Samir – no pace and grace – that is somewhat harsh. Suggest you have a spin (not literally of course) in the XKR and come back on that one.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I don’t think Samir meant “no pace and grace.” He’s saying that Jaguar adjudges pace and grace–particularly grace–to be more important than sportiness.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Interpretation notwithstanding, an XKR has plenty of ‘sportiness’, whatever that may be!

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I totally agree with Mr Jamie1. He’s right that Jaguar’s reliability is good and he’s also right that paying over the odds for a BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz just smacks of lack of imagination.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    @KatiePuckrik

    OR…a person may just like the Germans better. I’m just saying. “Lack of imagination”. Sheesh.

  • avatar
    stu.purvis

    Best looking Taurus I ever saw.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Lack of imagination is absolutely right. To me, one of the wonderful things about cars like the Jaguars, the CTS, the Quattroporte is that they are wonderful alternatives to the same old choice. I’d much rather have an interesting car than a logical car. given, of course, that they’re all quite good. After all, we’re not talking about the old days, when a choice between a Renault Dauphine and a VW Beetle involved more than deciding whose styling you liked better. (I started driving in 1951, so I’ve been there…)

  • avatar

    I guess it comes as no surprise that this swan song sounds like the Lincoln LS goodbye test.

    The DEW98 chassis was perfect for both brands, and it got so much better when both were redesigned a few years back. I hope the XF will build on these strengths. Even if its boxy like a Volvo and tall like a Lexus.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Wow, 5 out of 5 – that is quite an endorsement. Still waiting for the first goose egg…

    In the meantime, this review just makes me really, really sad. Why did it take so long for FoMoCo to put out a great Jag??? This was supposed to be whole point of the Jaguar purchase in the first place – blending the style and alure of Jaguar with the reliability, simple engineering and parts availability of a Ford. Why did they have to nearly kill a venerable brand before they got the formula right?????

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Three or four years from now these are going to make one amazing used car bargain.

  • avatar

    You may call the styling original, but it was never dynamic in any way, it just looks staid and stuffy, and hardly graceful, more like a beached whale.

    Shame about the lack of a consistent styling direction for Jaguar. The XK is a nice looking car, but doesn’t have anything to really make it distinguishable except that it is not a hideous 6-series. The new XF could have been more exciting than it turned out, a bit more like the Buick Lucerne (which is not an unattractive car) rather than like the QP…. Shame too, if it had been just a bit more svelte,. I would have bought one.

    Well, perhaps its new owners will have a better design direction than the current one.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    akatsuki – the XK is a lovely looking thing – driving one in the UK was the best few days I have had. It (almost) made me attractive to women!!
    On the XF, please be assured that photos do not do it justice. It looks wonderful in the metal and as everyone is about to discover, it backs the looks up by driving beautifully as well. Combined with a stunning interior and I reckon Jag might have a winner on their hands which is a good thing. A world without Jaguar’s would be a sad place indeed.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    A Jaguar is the the car that you test drive along with the MB, BMW, Audi, and Lexus but you just do not buy it!

    Needless to say there is something sorely missing from Jaguar’s formula today. Part of the problem is thet do look like Ford products. While they may be more reliable than the Jags of old, Ford has washed out all of the little things that made a Jaguar unique and special.

    From the exterior styling to the simplified interior switch gears and details the Jags that Ford has produced look like “pretend” Jaguars or what a Japanese automaker trying to mimic Jaguar would come up with.

    Jaguars problem is the “Ford Effect”. Each and every foriegn brand that Ford has purchased has lost what orginally made them worth purchasing int he first place. Volvo lost RWD. Range Rovers have become silly boutique poser-mobiles that resemble a man in a tuexdo with hiking boots.
    Aston Martin models are indistingushible from each other and share far too many parts with the rest of Fords products to be considered exotic.

    Jaguar to Ford has meant nothing but a name and a style. Very little “Brand” substance exist anymore.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    S-Type might make a great $20k-$25k used car. Anyone have any experience with it?

  • avatar
    doktorno

    This car always reminded me of a Mark 2 Jag and I have always been very fond of its looks. If this car is “hardly graceful, more like a beached whale” how would one describe 3′s, 5′s and E’s?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I have wanted a Jag since I hitched a ride in one to high school. When I developed the means reliability horror stories put me off. Ford replaced mechanical concerns with uncertainty about the marque’s longevity.

    I hope the Indians, Chinese or whoever buys Jaguar sort it out. I would love have one before I shuffle off.

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    While I’m not surprised, it’s refreshing to see a positive review of the Jaguar S-Type. People are too ready to pan the car without ever driving one. My parents own a 2003 S-Type 3.0 (post major revisions) – this review is spot on with how the car drives – it drives so well, but rides so smoothly. Yes, that’s vague, but it’s a matter if how the car feels. And by no means does it feel like a Ford – or even remotely related to a Ford.

    My mother has always wanted a Jaguar, which is why my parents were in the market for one. We test drove the X-Type, and the nearly $10K difference between the two cars was noticeable and felt well worth it.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Whatdoiknow1 – you are being unfair and using ourdated arguments. Current Jaguar products look nothing like Ford on either the interior or exterior – of course there is parts sharing, but then that is simple economic common sense. As an example, look at Bentley Continental and VW Phaeton (basically the same thing give or take).
    Aston Martin is enjoying more success than ever in its history – if their cars all look the same to you, then so be it. As for me, I’d have any one of them thank you very much.
    Land Rover is in the process of it’s best ever years of sales, and although they won’t tell us, the suspicion is that they are making a bucket load of wonga based off SUV’s that really do what they say they will do rather than pseudo-SUV’s like the pointless Cayenne/Toureg/Q7 which really are for posers.
    Ford have actually done a much better job than people credit, and the only irony is that they are selling JLR at the very time it is about to really come good.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    To all who choose to use the “Jaguar share too many Ford platforms/parts for me to consider one”. May I say, I used to think exactly the same, especially about the Jaguar X-type (Ford Mondeo platform) and gave the car a right kicking, until I drove it and suddenly my perspective changed.

    Even though the X-type has a Ford Mondeo platform it’s what Jaguar do with it that makes it special. I promise you, drive a Jaguar and you’ll see what makes them good cars and have more character than an Audi or BMW.

    Humans’ DNA is 96% indentical to that of a Monkey’s. But it’s that 4% that makes the difference (i.e swings from trees, flinging dung around, etc). To give you an idea of how definitive that 4% can be think of this:

    In the 4% we don’t share with Monkeys, lies the answer to curing AIDS…..

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    True story… Back in the summer of 2004, I was living just NW of Los Angeles in Ventura County. A friend of mine was coming to visit over the 4th of July weekend, so I contacted the local Thousand Oaks Hertz (they can get the nice LAX rentals) and asked for anything with a top that vanished for the entire weekend because once you cruise the PCH on a July evening with the sun going down, the top is never going back up. They said (and knew me at this point) that they should be able to get something like a Volvo C70 since I didn't want to pay the fortune for a Jag ragtop. Fast forward a week or so and what's waiting for me? Ford Thunderbird. Joy. Well, the top drops so we'll live. The next day we notice the sidewalls on the tires have all kinds of chalk marks, a bulge, and chunks missing. I call up the office at LAX and we would swap cars. Coming from Ojai at that point, I was a little worried about the tires since it was getting hot, but we made it. I very calmly at at no time even rose my voice about having a day's plans altered over a Hertz Local Edition's fault. The manager just shook my hand and said that I was the calmest and most understanding person he has talked to today! (Given it was July 3, I can understand.) He said that he'll set us up with something very nice as a thanks and hands me the keys to a now-discounted-rate Jaguar S-Type 8-cyl…the car in the review. Over the course of the weekend and into the upcoming week, this car was in San Diego, Downtown/Koreatown/Getty Center/Los Angeles and my personal favorite of "warming up the tires" up and down the switchbacks into Sequoia NP. The entire time, the car was more comfortable than the Benz my father owns (but not quite Lexus LS comfortable that an aunt owns), quiet and smooth, reliable (none of the old burning electronics smell while trim drags behind the rear bumper), and handled well in the mountains and cruised the 405 well after midnight when traffic kind of moves a little smoother. I think a lot of people see Ford = Jaguar and that clams them up. Truth be told, given the nightmare I once had with an X-Type, I can't blame them. However, to say this equals a Taurus or anything along those lines doesn't work. This is a much tighter car (never mind it drives the other wheels…) with an 8-cyl that is so smooth, you wonder if it is on. Yes, it has a few Jag quirks like buttons that you don't have the foggiest clue what they do, and the parking system beeps were somewhat random in parking garages, but on the open road, heading up CA-99 past Bakersfield towards Sequoia in a convoy that included an M3 and a LS430 at 6:00am, we held our own. (I swore I hit over 121 mph – maybe my rental had a different package than the one in the review.) Downside? Of course…swilled fuel. Lots of it. Expensive SoCal Premium fuel. We weren't that easy on the gas in town and stop and go hurts mileage, and the cruise was set whenever possible, but 15-16mpg seems a bit low. So many people now associate Ford with Jaguar and I think that brand perception is hurting the future of Jag. Now that Ford is breaking up the PAG, I hope Jag goes to someone that can focus the strength of the brand with new products with one of a kind British styling and feel. When people say X-Type = Mondeo/Contour and S-Type = Taurus, that is a severe image and brand problem. It will probably take a generation of cars to get this fixed. In the meantime, I have to say that the S-Type is a very nice, fast, and comfortable car and would highly recommend one as a used car purchase. Is it worth 5/5 stars in this review? I think that's one star too high. However, a solid four of five is better than some BMWs and M-B's I've driven recently.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Ask any non-car person (or Acura/Lexus/BMW driver) about Jaguar, and they’ll slam Jaguar as “just a Ford.” And I’ve heard it about every single model they’ve made in the past 10 years. When a friend of the family pointed to a brand new XK8 and said “that’s actually just a Taurus, with a Taurus frame and Mustang engine” I could do nothing but put my head in my hands. Not only is it not a Taurus, but nowadays most cars are what’s called “unibody.”

    Jaguar’s reputation has been more damaged by its owner’s name than any other brand out there. And what’s amazing is that almost all of it is wrong. Although Jaguar hasn’t got the slightest bit of direction, under Ford’s leadership they improved their quality immensely and started building cars with aluminum.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Great review and I have admired this model Jag ever since they were introduced, but it has been about $15,000 over my price range. But now that I can see that it might make a good used purchase I look forward to being a Jag owner in a year or two.

    There is something to be said for the styling and the images it evokes from the past. Just like the Porsche 911 has maintained its styling reminiscent of the original when it was introduced in 1965, this Jaguar has cues that remind me of those beautiful and stylish Jags of the 1960s. Being a more current model with the engineering of Ford behind it is even better. The best of both worlds.

    Somehow Mercedes and BMW’s don’t evoke those feelings. They look to me to be more like functional machines without any style, much like the Japanese car. If one is only interested in having a functional transportation machine, then go for one of the Japanese makes. But if one has some sense of style then go for the Jaguar.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A couple of years ago I bought a 1999 Jaguar XJ8L for about $8000 to use as a commuter to the auctions. I have to say that it was an absolutely fantastic vehicle and I have yet to experience anything quite like it.

    The first distinction a Jaguar has for close to twenty years now, is that it enables you to enjoy a vehicle without having to be an aggressive driver. A fellow cuts me off? No bother. I’ve got sumptuous leather seats, a Karmon stereo system, and enough burled wood to open up my own English bar. The old saying of ‘pace, grace and space’ is really what a well-designed Jaguar is all about.

    The XJ was really an exceptional touring car, and I even liked the narrowness of the drivetrain as well as the low seating position. It was almost like a top notch luxury coupe that thankfully has two extra doors and plenty of space.

    In general, I find that most Jaguar owners (X-types accepted) seem to be just as nitpicky about maintenance as other comparable marques. It’s rare that a Jaguar repo goes through the sales. As a used car value Jaguar has been a strong value for nearly ten years now and the owner base has an awful lot to do with that.

    Overall, the S-Series of the past few years was not my cup of tea when it first came out, it looked like a walrus and had interior trimmings that were the exact antithesis of what a Jaguar should be (a.k.a. too much Ford). The 2008 wouldn’t be my first choice unless I could get it stickered down under the 50k mark. Even then, it would still be worth only about 10k to 12k after 5 years, and it would almost be worth considering an extended warranty due to the limited economies of scale for much of it’s parts and electronics.

    Great review, and since I’ve never test driven an 08 model I’ll have to take your word for it.

  • avatar

    Nice article. It is a better looking car than the one that replaces it, sadly.

  • avatar
    tentacles

    Having more “Jaguar is just a Ford” ignoramuses just means I’ll be able to get my slightly used XKR and creamy AJ-V8 goodness that much quicker. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    red60r

    I spent some time in the late ’60′s behind the wheel of a genuine S-Type (3.8 DOHC 6, XKE 4-speed + Laycock overdrive) and found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. It had more room and better handling than its MK-2 3.8 and 3.4 Saloon predecessors (thanks for the memories, Dad). It also didn’t belch blue smoke backing down from high rpm like the 3.4 or need double-clutching on the 1-2 shift like the non-synchro boxes in the 3.4 or MK-2. The S was a former dealer car that had been tarted up for a visit to Chicago by the Prince of Wales. The car had a special Royal gold over burgundy 2-tone paint job and a full-length cloth sunroof. Kiss your eardrums goodbye if the roof was open at over 20 mph. I hope the new S-Type has addressed one of the major failings of the earlier incarnations — they all rusted like crazy. The 3.4 also had a laughable heater and (strange characteristic for a British car) a poor Lucas electrics response to dampness.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I’ve always liked this car, but could never get over what I consider to be this chassis’ biggest weakness: Lack of space!

    A $50K luxury sedan should, by definition, be able to carry 4 adults AND their luggage comfortably. The S-type’s rear contours, though semi-stylish, don’t allow that. The back seat is too narrow, with insufficient leg room, and the trunk is WAY too tight. It’s like paying for business class, but getting economy-class accommodations – a fatal flaw.

    I’m hoping that the new XF rectifies this.

  • avatar
    Von

    Contributing to the problems at Jag, is that they’ve been off the radar for most consumers for much too long. And they’ve consistently placed near the bottom in comparison tests. So all that the consumers are left with is a 20 year old impression of how a Jag used to be.

    If Ford is serious about bringing back Jag, they need to offer the consumer something new and special in addition to a great car, and that’s just to get customers into the door.

  • avatar

    @doktorno- the 3 and 5 series are dressed up Pontiacs with even more unnecessary crap cluttering up the styling. The E-class is a pretty boring choice, with nothing really for or against it.

    @ KatiePuckrik- The x-type was a disaster because Jaguar actually made it less special. The base Ford actually was responsible for the great dynamics, they just added more weight in chrome, leather, wood, and AWD. There was just no way it was going to compete well against a 3-series or any other special built RWD sports sedan. Ford needed a small RWD platform which they could have used for the new Mustang and a Jaguar roadster, but instead they went a different way.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    OK, so Jaguars are now decently built and will not leave you stranded on the side of the road.

    Outside of those attributes what is the compelling reason to purchase a Jaguar today?

    What do Jaguars do BETTER than MB, BMW, Audi, or Lexus?

    What is special about them?

    No more inline6s
    No more v12s
    No more unique interior appointments, switch gear, or gauges.

    Wannabe English stlying without the old world English charm.

    A new XJ is indistinghishable from any other sold in the last 15 years. The S-Type styling was “played-out” after only two years on the market yet this car has been on sale for 10 years. The X-Type is a an underperforming overpriced joke of a cheapo FWD car. The new XK8 is pretending to be a “bargin priced” Aston Martin. The last XK8 played-out in short order like the S-Type.
    Every single engine in the Jaguar portfolio is old news, derivative of other lower-end Ford engines, and lacking in performance and technical sophistication.

    The only folks I know that still desire or lust for a Jaguar are older folks that remember when Jaguars were “different” and rather quirky. Most of these people would prefer a restored 1987 xj6 Vandam Plus or Soveriegn v12. Even during the worst of times for Jaguar in the past their cars were unique and did not have equivalent competitors from other brands. The former XJS was the only car you could buy outside of a Ferrari or Lamborghini with a v12. The Xj series were seen as “sporting” low-slunge “affordable” versions of an RR.

    Jaguar is all but dead today because Jaguar has lost its identity. Todays Jaguars while very nice clearly show the Ford influence, lots of money spent in the beginning and than total starvation of the brand. Outdated designs, outdated engines, and proposed new products that lack cohesion with out outgoing products that Ford used to redefine the brand.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @whatdoiknow1:

    You’ve summed up many of the reasons why this car failed. But it has so much more going for it than you give it credit for.

    Most importanr, it has character. Iit isn’t just another 5-series. Where these types of cars sell, that matters. Quite honestly I find the 5 and E ugly inside and out. There is nothing that feels special about them.

    Additionally, the jag may have the best ride/handling/steering combination in the class. You really need to experience it to understan. It goes way past mere spec sheets. But alas, that’s how most people shop – that and a 5 minute test drive.

  • avatar
    LtSolo

    I agree with Mr. Berkowitz. I haven’t driven the S-Type, only ridden in one when they first came out… in the back seat… and all I remember was white leather that was already getting dirty, and how smooth the engine felt.

    However, I have driven the new XK-R, and what a treat it was. I drove the BMW 650i the same day (what else was I supposed to do with a 6 hour flight delay in Albuquerque?), and was dissapointed with the 650i. It was great overall, but no magic, nothing special other than the suicidal i-crash knob sticking out of the centre console. The XK-R was a completely different story. The transmission wasn’t as good, nor was it as roomy, but it did have that zeitgeist! It made me feel special, and not a prick…. well, not as big a one in a gunmetal grey 650i.

    Plus, the car had better feedback, it rode better (as in it felt far more nimble and not as heavy and planted), the interior was FAR more interesting, and the exterior styling makes jaws drop.

    I would buy one over the 650i, or even the new Audi S5 in a heartbeat. Not as good to drive, but all the more special. Besides, already having a Porsche, I need a great GT car for the long road-trips…. alone…. because I’m a prick in a Jaguar…..

    P.S. Long road trips…. alone… in a Jetta TDI only get you dates with hippies.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    I don’t think “character” (whatever that is) is important in luxury cars. Maybe for exotics…I think it’s about half prestige/brand/image, and the other half is top trumps.

    That’s why Jaguar (down 26% in sales y-o-y) joins Lincoln (TC dead, MKZ down 10.4), Saab (down 8.5), Acura (down 24.9) and Volvo (down 9.7) as in-betweener brands that aren’t doing so well.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    I have become a covert too – I scoffed even just a couple of weeks ago but came away after the test really liking the damn thing. The S and the X.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @CarShark:

    Yep, that’s totally correct. Most people spending $50,000 on a car don’t care about character, or how fun a car is to drive, or heritage, etc. In talking to friends who shop in that approximate market, the usual considerations are:
    (1) Do other people think it’s prestigious?
    (2) What’s the monthly payment?
    (3) Fifteen years ago, was this considered a reliable brand? (Also known as “American and British cars all break down/Toyotas last forever.”)
    (4 if necessary) Does it come with all wheel drive?

    Hence Lexus’s success: peddling boring appliances with a logo that says “I spent a lot of money for this car.”

  • avatar
    deaner23

    I have owned and mostly loved an XJR. When it was working properly it was a fantastic car. when it wasn’t working properly – a condition that became chronic – it was an expensive and frustrating nightmare. Without getting into the issue of reliability of various brands, I think it’s fair to say that any given car can or will suffer some type of extensive repair in its lifetime. Once I sold my Jag I swore i would not own another one so long as Ford was involved. My problem with Jag was that when I needed work done that should have covered by the warranty, I was not dealing with Jag, but with Ford. Further, i was not treated well. I didn’t expect better treatment because I was driving a car that was so expensive; rather I felt that if a car company was going to sell a car at that price that it would do a better job of standing behind the product. Contrast that treatment with Porsche. My experience with Porsche is that they have always gone the extra mile to make sure that their customers feel comfortable with their decision to buy a Porsche. I know other Porsche owners who have had engines replaced free of charge.

    It seems to me that Porsche understands that there are certain expectations a consumer has when he or she drops big iron on a vehicle. It’s hard to argue that your 911 is a superior vehicle to your Honda Accord if your 911 is always in the shop. I think most people want to equate quality with price, and are willing to pay a premium for quality. It may be that Jag/Ford is doing a better job lately – i don’t know. I do know that I want nothing to do with Ford as a direct result of my previous experiences.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Hence Lexus’s success: peddling boring appliances with a logo that says “I spent a lot of money for this car.”

    Justin,

    Lets not forget that a 4 door sedan IS an appliance. Yes, some appliances are nicer and have better features than others but in the end your 4 door luxury sedan is still an appliance just like the Tauras sitting on the Hertz rental lot.
    99% of the costumers shopping for a BMW or Jaguar are shopping for a car to use in the same manner as 99% of the folks that are going to purchase a Honda Accord. They will use it to commute back and forth to work, transport the family to Grandma’s house, go food shopping, etc. The only difference is one individual chooses to spend more on a car than another.

    Lexus is a success (and kicking jags a$$) because Lexus has successfully removed many of the UNWANTED attributes of luxury car ownership from the equation. Think of attributes such as , hassle, frustration, worry, anger, annoyance, pissed-off, pain in the a$$!

    Today it is 30 degrees outside and the wind is blowing at over 30mph. When I leave work what I want most is a 100% reliable, comfortable, stable car for my commute home. I will not be pulling Gs or doing any street racing this evening. All of the advantages that a BMW has over a Lexus is worthless today as they are 95% of the time. But today the advantages of the rock solid reliable Lexus will shine as they do 100% of the time.

    I will grant you that a MB, BMW, or Jaguar are exciting than a Lexus when they are in 100% proper working order. The problem is they have a nasty habit of not want to work right.

    Boring is a car with a cronically broken audio system. Boring is a car that the owner is no longer comfortable with because of numerous warning lights that randoming come on and go off.
    Boring is a $60,000 car that keeps eating a left front tire because of a poor warranty work at the premium dealership.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @whatdoiknow1:

    I agree wholeheartedly. For lots of folks, not ever thinking about their car is the ultimate luxury.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    IIRC there was a company named Lister that used to do 5spd manual conversions to XJS Jags back in the 80s. Now an XJS with a 5spd would be a very interesting ride!

    Does anyone have anymore info on this?

  • avatar
    levi

    JJ: Justified or not, people know/perceive that when they buy a Jag they are paying for old technology that is not on par with BMW, Audi and even Mercedes.

    There is no truth. There is only perception. … Gustave Flaubert

  • avatar
    gsp

    Jag = gussied up Ford in most minds. I am buying a BMW this week and did not even consider Jag.

    If Ford built cars like Toyota, than Jag would not have the image problem. Instead they build and brand crap. I was last in a Ford two years ago and marvelled at the plastic-right-out-of-a-toy-factory-in-China dash. I guess reading this that I am wrong about Jag, but that is the image that sticks.

    Jag should do somthing different. Like put a minibar in the backseat of ALL models. Just do something different.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Jaguars have personality. Mercedes, BMW and Lexus don’t.

  • avatar

    I don’t think Samir meant “no pace and grace.” He’s saying that Jaguar adjudges pace and grace–particularly grace–to be more important than sportiness.

    Correct.

    Jaguar Flagship: XJ Saloon? S-Type?
    BMW Flagship: M5.

    See what I mean?

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    I think a lot of excuses and justifications are made, illogically, in this article. Maybe this would be a 5 star car driven alone, but if you’ve ever driven one of its closest competitors it wouldn’t score close to as much praise. Also, I personally find a problem with insulting the first S-Type’s taillamp clusters in such a way. They were better BEFORE they were changed to the Taurus esque garbage they’ve become.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    I was considering buying a used S-type R just a few months ago. I did extensive research and found the car to be reliable overall except for its transmissions as some need early replacement (I was hoping that I would be lucky). S-type R is a fantastic value especially here in Canada where you can get one with 40K miles for 25-30K. What ultimately swayed me away was the lack of space as was already pointed out. I have a small family with only one child but the lack of rear space is not excusable in this car category. I grant you that previous generation 5-series wasn’t exactly like a barnyard inside but at least it had adequate space. I can’t imagine for an adult to be comfortable in the back for even a short ride unless he or she was a Lilliputian.

    As to the perception that Jag is a Ford and a very unreliable one at that; it’s not just lay people that have it, even mechanics that work on them propagate it. When I told my mechanic I wanted an S-type, the first thing he said was why would I want a Ford? It was a Ford, he said, because he worked on a few and saw that it had numerous Ford/Mercury parts inside and out. The implication, unstated but clear, was that it was a Ford POS. Though I knew better because of my research I didn’t bother to argue the point. Interestingly when I asked him about Audi A6 he didn’t say that it was just a Volkswagen even though A6 may share more parts with VW then Jag does with Ford. And it’s certainly no urban myth how unreliable VWs are.

    Ultimately I found even better deal on 2001 740i and bought that. Contrary to what others say here BMWs still have some character though less and less of it as they become lexusized into driving appliances.

  • avatar
    Thomas Minzenmay

    Apart from the fact that Jaguar just isn’t up there with Mercedes or BMW technologically, the biggest problem remains: Jaguar is perceived to be a low quality Mercedes knock off. And that’s where Ford’s product management messed up right from the beginning. They wanted to make Jaguar a British Mercedes when they should have kept it a British Maserati.

  • avatar
    Quo Vadis

    Ford is to Jag what GM is to Saab.

    Talk about the sanitization, castration and euthanization of two once worthy (and distinct) marques.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @LamborghiniZ:
    if you’ve ever driven one of its closest competitors it wouldn’t score close to as much praise.

    I’ve driven all of its competitors, actually.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Justin,
    Thanks for having the balls to give a 5-star rating, especially to a car that is so far off the radar screen.

    I know the Ten Worst list gets a lot of attention, but I wonder if a “10 Most Overlooked” list would be in order. At least it would give the Panther-lovers a chance to vent.

  • avatar
    jamie1

    Jaguar Flagship: XJ Saloon? S-Type?
    BMW Flagship: M5.
    Samir,
    Thought you knew about cars! Jaguar flagship – XKR. Why have you got such a downer on Jaguar? Forget the Ford thing everyone – there is not one switch or dial in the XK or XF that has any relation to anything Ford.
    This argument is so old hat – get out there and try an up to date Jag – it won’t let you down, you will look great in it and you won’t be some anonimous BMW/Merc/Lexus number on a spreadsheet – you will be a real person at last!!

  • avatar
    BEAT

    The Jaguar 5 star review is appropriate.

    It is the “Equalizer” for the BMW.

  • avatar
    zenith

    At 120K miles, I’ve had to replace another part on my 10-year-old Ford–a tensioner for the serpentine belt.

    That’s 3 parts in 10 years, counting the battery and oxygen sensor that failed > 7 years ago under warranty.

    If Jag is “just another POS Ford”, then I want one.

  • avatar
    Seth

    I agree wholeheartedly. For lots of folks, not ever thinking about their car is the ultimate luxury.

    No need to drag Lexus into this. Generalizations such as these are as bad as saying Jag is a gussied up ford. Unless jag is a gussied up ford.. yeesh anyways, not all lexus buyers are pretentious. Indeed thats the appeal. Jag and Lex are for two different markets.

    BTW, on a more important note, those who are looking to score a used jag on the cheap better make sure that their jobs/lifestyles match. Otherwise, more grief to follow..

  • avatar
    ar_ken

    I always, always get a laugh when I read people thinking that Jaguars are nothing but dressed up Fords. Honestly, nowadays how many cars have a UNIQUE platform, and ALL parts UNIQUE to themselves? My Audi A6 has a turn signal/wiper stalk, sunroof dial and keyless entry keys/alarm activation signal from a Volkswagen Golf. It still doesn’t stop people from calling it having one of the best interiors of its class.

    I was SO close to buying a S-Type R a few months ago as well (superb bargain compare to M5 or E55, used of course) but I was just too hung up on having AWD…. and I’m still (in a way) “suffering” with my Audi A4. Nice car to drive, but boring nevertheless.

  • avatar
    Jason

    Jaguar got polluted by Ford. But really, its all about perception. Why do you think rollie-pollie handling Lexus sells so well? Most people want a status symbol vehicle, and don’t have a clue about the pleasures of performance motoring, and for this money, you can get BMW. ’nuff said. Even Lexus in NA at least is far superior in bling-bling-ness, which sadly, Americans are all about looks only. (Except the ones on TTAC!) And if it was my money, I’d buy BMW if I was going to lease, and Acura if I was going to buy, but then again, I’m a tightwad that doesn’t like to spend MY money on depreciating assets!

  • avatar
    ronbo456

    not your father’s Jaguar

    Actually, I used to own my father’s Jag – a 1970 XJ. When it ran, it was a thing of beauty and cool in a uniquely Cool Brittania sort of way. Unfortunately, it spent most of its time in the shop, simultaneously perplexing and enriching our mechanic.

    I never thought Jag could sink lower than it did in the 70s, when poor workmanship seemed to be part of the union work rules. But Ford made everything worse. People who love British cars understand that, in some ways, they suck. Same thing, in a different way, with Italian cars. But no one expects them to be bland and boring. Lucky, lucky Aston to escape intact.

  • avatar
    kyberbb

    I recently purchased a used 2005 S-type with 37k miles for a little less than half the original sticker price. The factors that went into my purchase decision were: comparison to other vehicles in its used price range, uniqueness of the car, amenities, driving performance, and recent reliability history.
    To be honest I always like Jags, but never really considered buying one especially, purchasing a new one. Frankly, the only people I know who buy cars in the $50k price range have some sort of car allowance associated with their job or can somehow write off a percentage of the vehicle.
    Now in the market place for used luxury cars the Acura, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes are all thousands of dollars more for a comparable vehicle. So as a number of people have observed these late model S-types do make a good used luxury car purchase. The depreciation on most luxury automobiles after two years borders on 50%, maybe even more for the Jags.
    Anyway my final thoughts on the article were that it was a fair representation of the car, but that in a competitive marketplace the Jags are usually out of consideration for any number of reasons that have been previously mentioned.
    I also want to state that I commend Jaguar for not bowing to the misguide U.S. marketplace and building some sort of SUV/crossover. More people I know have BMW X3/X5, Acura MDX, Lexus RX than own real luxury sedans. It kills me that people think the X3 is some sort of luxury/performance vehicle, when it is just a station wagon with a BMW badge.

  • avatar
    swedcars

    If I liked Ford, I would just save $20K and buy a 500. Jag sure did lose its appeal once ford started making them.

  • avatar
    jrgnc1

    I own an S Type and totally love it….I’m disappointed that Jag is discontinuing the “retro” style. It symbolized the Jag and set it apart from all other vehicles ever since the 60′s when the S Type was introduced. Now, it’ll just look like every other car out there… lack of uniqueness.

    The major reason why I wanted the S Type was for it’s exterior design. Moving forward, I’ll have to keep purchasing the retro style as a used vehicle since I refuse to buy that ugly XF. They should have retired the X Type instead….now that looks dated…like an 80′s sedan…

  • avatar
    millergd

    Justin, thank you for your review — it was the tipping point that persuaded me to pick up a used 2006 S-Type R for an unbelievable price (with an unbelievable Jaguar extended warranty). As it is my second Jaguar, I’m either a sucker for punishment or else have learned that a depreciated used Jag is a gifthorse to my wallet.

    I’ve noticed that S-Type’s have been heavily discounted by dealers in recent months. It could be because any curious carbuyer perusing the dealer’s lot might start asking what a $60k XF offers that a $30k S-Type doesn’t (aside from ugliness)??? I suspect also that Ford wanted as many of them off the dealer lots as possible in order to make the inventory books look attractive to Tata. If Ford wants to tape dollar bills to every Jaguar it sells, then I’ll take one!

    Aside from its usual Jaguar quirks (like the trunk randomly popping open, a severe sunroof hum, and it being my second Jag to have a damn driveline vibration — all occurring on its maiden drive home from New Jersey), it’s been an absolute pleasure. And someday Jaguar will figure out what BMW has already — that is you can sell more cars if you offer a manual transmission version. Especially on your ‘R’ badged models.

  • avatar
    jrgnc1

    I for one LOVE my S type. I’ve always wanted a Jag and this was the one for me. The one thing I especially enjoy is the retro styling. It stands out in the crowd of clone vehicles on the road today and I’m always getting compliments on it.

    The XF now looks like just about every other vehicle out there.

  • avatar
    Space_1999

    Quite how people can say Jaguar is ‘below’ BMW puzzles me. When BMW were making 3-wheeled ‘bubble cars’, Jaguar had just launched the world’s first 150mph production supercar – the E-type (1963). Jaguars, until recently, were hand-build NON-mass produced cars, BMWs are Ford-style mass made on the line. Jaguars have always had expensive double wishbone front and rear suspension, BMWs use cheaper MacPherson struts/Z-axles, Jaguar were the first to offer disc brakes when all BMW cars ran drums, etc. etc. – the two brands simply aren’t comparable; the DNA of Jaguar cars is altogether superior – as any test drive will confirm. Where BMW reign supreme is in marketing; their secret is to sell cars that cost 10% more to make than Fords, for 50% more, then spend the profits on advertising. Jaguar, conversely, always had the business side of things wrong – the cars were too well engineered, too expensive to (hand) build and yet didn’t compete on spec (i.e. stupid fripperies like rain-sensing wipers, etc.) which beguile the average Joe. If Jaguar had been more cynical – making worse cars for less money and hype-ing them more, they wouldn’t be where they are now.

  • avatar
    printer

    It is now clear to me that the s-type advantages are only known to owners. It is by far the best drive and ride of all the others – and I have had them all – but you don’t see this in the showroom or an hour’s test drive. Just do 600 miles in a day over a mixed bag of roads and you will see what I mean.
    Other correspondents have started to hit the reasons: the finely tuned double wishbone suspension, the lack of engine noise and especially road noise from the LS structure, the perfect match of engine and gearbox in the engine management system, the smoothness of power from both the V6 and the V8. Anyone who thinks that BMW have the smoothest engines is just plain wrong. The diesel is unbelievable. I agree the boot is a disappointment but that is more due to shape than the size and at least you can have a full size spare wheel! The back seat is not large but for two people and 600 miles it is still the most comfortable.
    The driving position is perfect and to my taste (and probably shape)is streets ahead of the new XF. I feel buried behind the dash in the XF and probably for that reason I won’t have one.
    The one disappointment with Jaguar is that Ford didn’t raise the profile with racing. Sadly most people buy cars on image – what other people will think of their choice. Not easy to create an image of just being the best, is it?

  • avatar
    westcott

    Reliability
    The 2008 Jaguar S-Type reliability score of 4.0 out of 10 is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. This score is based on trending the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power’s automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS).

    Jamie

    This is the main reason I bought the Mercedes over the Jaguar. Your statements contradict what I read about Jaguars reliability. Pile on the poor resale value and I bought the Mercedes.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with the XF. It really does look awesome in the flesh and the interior is a case study for all of the mfg’s, except maybe Audi. And, as far as overall ride quality and handling, the Jaguar XF was the best. It was sure footed, plenty of supercharged power, and is the most beautiful of all the competitors (550i, A6, 460, and the M car).

  • avatar
    celtusa

    I have a question to put out there. After looking around at used Luxury models, approx 3 years old, it seems like you can get a great Jag S really cheap compared to other models BMW, Volvos even Mazda6. So I was wondering, this car wasn’t popular when new but as a used vehicle under 20K it seems like a great deal?

  • avatar
    pageup

    Two years ago I was looking at new cars and decided to look at something other than my reliable, but incredibly boring Acura RL. My wife, who has always loved Jags, insisted I look at this car.  I went online to find evidence that this was a waste of time and found this site . . . and this five star review. I was shocked.
    In late December of 2007 I bought one (actually it is a lease).  

    After the first six months I had two complaints: a silly squeaking noise that originates directly above my head caused by the moon roof door rubbing on something; and the tires. The squeak could not be repaired by the dealership (they added some insulation to no avail), but jamming chair leg pads solved the squeak. My initial reaction was not good, especially when I compared the quality of the moon roof build to my Acura and noticed how cheap the Jag seemed.

    The tires were a bigger problem: all four Continentals developed bubbles almost immediately, caused by the generally horrible road conditions to be found in the Midwest – a pre-stimulus bill condition that seems to be improving.

    But now it is two years later and the S-Type has some all-season Michelins on it and no tire problems to be found — though I admit the original Continentals gave a smoother ride — but if your tires are exploding it seems the trade off more than worth it.

    Twice I’ve had to take the car in to have the shocks replaced (free) due to some default that caused them to fail.

    A mixed review?  Maybe not.

    For the past two years I have been blowing by slow and careless drivers on the freeway, as well as nimbly avoiding fast and reckless drivers everywhere. And when alone on the road enjoying the car thoroughly. The handling is fantastic (especially compared to the utterly horrible stability of the RL — really, the car now seems unsafe compared to the Jag) and I’ve enjoyed the fact that the car is made for me — an average height person of average weight — the same experience in the Japanese car made be feel like a sardine.
    In summary, they got it right on these late model S-Types. It’s just too bad it didn’t do Jaguar any good.


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