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New Car/Review


Jaguar S-Type 4.0 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Jaguar Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 49,355
     Price As Tested                                    $ 54,250
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 4.0 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 244 cid/3996 cc
     Horsepower                                   281 @ 6100 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               287 @ 4300 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  114.5"/71.6"/191.3"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4078 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.4 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          225/55HR16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/24/21
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 94.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           145 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

Since Ford took over Jaguar in 1989, exciting new vehicles have been churned out of the Coventry, England plant on a regular basis. This week we cruise gracefully behind the wheel the company's first midsized sedan in more than 30 years, the sensational S-Type.

OUTSIDE - The S-Type classic lines reflect the heritage of timeless Jaguar classics such as the compact Mark I and II sedans of the '50s and '60s. This is evidenced by its 13-bar vertical grille and four circular headlamps, and the two thin bumper-cap-mounted chrome strips beneath the headlights. The hood has rolling humps that continue the round shape of the headlights, while the roof line arcs gracefully up and over, then down to the tapered trunk. A gently sweeping, slightly beveled character line starts just above and ahead of the front wheels and continues to just below the sides of the trunk lid. Another crease is about centered with the wheels, while this year's car sees the demise of the debut model's body-color side molding. Our V8-powered test car wore new 16-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels and performance-level touring tires.

INSIDE - The interior of the S-Type perpetuates the Jaguar mystique of providing warm and inviting luxury, but blended with appropriate ergonomics. Soft leather upholstery is standard, and broad panels of birds-eye maple trim is carefully applied to the steering wheel, dash and door panels. The front buckets seats are comfortable and bolstered just enough to satisfy all but the diehard sports drivers. The seat cushions are long, so short-legged drivers may find a bit awkward. The rear seat folds in 60/40 fashion, a first for any Jaguar. Due to that gracefully arching roof line in the rear, headroom is tight for tall rear seat passengers. Most of the dashboard controls are set into a semi-circle just above the center console, and feature an automatic climate control system and a display for the optional navigation system. We could do without the long-throw J-gate shifter that's a staple of Jags these days, but it's topped with a beautiful wooden shift knob that fits perfectly in the palm of the hand.

ON THE ROAD - The heart of the S-Type beats as a 4.0-liter double- overhead-cam V8 engine. This all-aluminum powerplant produces a healthy 281 horsepower and an impressive 287 lb-ft of torque. It purrs quietly and delivers power in a hushed, almost muted tone. The V8-powered S-Type always reminds its driver that there's plenty of power underfoot. We managed a couple of sub-seven second blasts to 60 mph, which isn't anything to trumpet about, but the car does so in a stately way that produces just enough perspiration in the palms of the hands. There's an electronically-controlled five-speed automatic offered as the sole gearbox.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Jaguar is a company that cares deeply about the way its cars ride and handle. For that reason it's understandable that the company would use a fully independent suspension with forged aluminum upper and lower A-arms, along with an anti-roll bar at each end. The rear system has been tuned to reduce "squat" under acceleration and front-end dive during hard braking, a result of updated suspension geometry. This allows its driver to either brake hard or accelerate hard and still keep the car on an even keel. An optional Sport Package adds not only larger wheels and "gripper" tires, and Jaguar's Computer Active Technology System, or CATS. This electronically controlled shock absorber system not only allows the driver to select between firm and soft settings for a smooth or firm ride, but sends messages to the car's computer to adjust suspension setting to suit road conditions. The steering is linear and precise, and well isolated from kickback, but still transmits plenty of information to the driver about the road surface. The brakes are four-wheel discs with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake distribution and traction control as standard equipment.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side-impact airbags, side-impact door beams, traction control and ABS are standard; DSC is optional.

OPTIONS - Navigation system, $2000; weather/sport package, $3000.