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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Jaguar S-Type Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Jaguar S-Type Overview

Driving in S-Tyle

If you are ready to make the move up market, but you don't want to be swimming in a sea of mass-produced luxury cars, then you should direct your attention to the Jaguar S-Type. Jaguar has truly outdone themselves with this design, grafting powerful styling cues from classic Jag's of the past onto a thoroughly modern chassis and drivertrain that earns a spot in the long list of Jaguar engineering triumphs. The S-Type feature that will probably impress you most is the price because for all its opulence, Jaguar has made the S-Type affordable to those who appreciate the finer things in life but don't have Windsor blood—or money—flowing through their veins.

You'll find the S-Type available in two trim levels denoted by their engine displacements: the 3.0 and 4.2. There is also an all-new supercharged S-Type R, but we will deal with that particular cat in a separate review. We want to concentrate on the luxury-performance S-Types, the ones that combine laudable driving characteristics and good acceleration with creature comforts and interior appointments that can best be described as a living room on wheels.

The S-Type 3.0 is powered by a 235-horsepower V6 engine and comes fairly well equipped; it is also the more affordable of the two trims. Available only on the 3.0-model is your choice of a smooth-shifting Getrag 5-speed manual transmission or Jaguar's new ZF 6-speed automatic. The ZF transmission incorporates Jaguar's patented J-gate shifter. Unlike standard automatic shifter levers that move from park to low in a straight line, the J-gate guides the lever from gear to gear in a J-shaped pattern; this allows the driver to manually select gears without the use of a clutch. You'll find the 3.0-liter delivers good performance, has a bit of muscle when passing and accelerating and fits nicely with the Jaguar's upscale image.

The 4.2 model features a brand-new V8 engine that replaces last year's 4.0. This new engine is available only with the automatic transmission, which is a shame because the character change it induces in the S-Type is formidable. With its new 294-horsepower V8, the S-Type is transformed into a remarkably competent performer. You'll find that the S-Type 4.2 is for those who appreciate the luxury and prestige a Jaguar brings to the driveway, but who still have an inherent "need for speed." With so much power on hand, Jaguar has seen fit to redesign the S-Type's front and rear suspension and stiffen the body by 10 percent. The handling is now much stiffer, but without compromising the cushioned ride of this big sedan. On the road, you'll find that both the 3.0 and 4.2 feel solid and well grounded; a rear-wheel drive setup makes the S-Type a better performance sedan than most front-drive cars, though on slippery or snow-covered roads, the traction control gets quite a work out. A new Sports Package increases the S-Type's driving pleasure by adding 17-inch alloy wheels with improved ventilated disc brakes, perforated leather sport seats and a stiffer spring and shock rate. What the Sport Package gives up in ride comfort, it more than makes up for in the twisty turns.

Increased attention has been focused on the S-Type's interior as well, both in the areas of safety and comfort. A new dash, center console and seat design greet you the moment you open the door. The gorgeous S-Type interior surrounds its occupants, coddling them in a warm cocoon of leather and wood. New luxury features include an electronic parking brake that sets itself by the touch of a button, a new optional telematics unit with integrated cell phone and navigation touch screen and electronically-adjustable foot pedals (standard on 4.2, optional on the 3.0). There is also a new standard side-airbag curtain and front side-impact airbags to protect the occupants; the airbags are tied in to a complex computer system that can sense whether the front seat is occupied and also the size and weight of the person in the seat.

Standard features on the 3.0 include power windows and door locks, dual-zone electronic climate control, eight-way power adjustable leather seats, cruise control, reverse parking assist, 140-watt AM/FM stereo with CD, 16-inch alloy wheels and keyless entry with security alarm. The 4.2 adds a power moonroof, 175-watt premium audio upgrade, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and two-way adjustable lumbar support for the front seats. Options include the Sport trim package and an on-board navigation and a voice-command system that allows the driver to operate the climate, audio and cell phone functions simply by speaking to them.

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