Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 81%

The Jaguar S-Type has been on the UK’s roads since 1999 and has found favour with motorists looking for classic car looks with modern car sensibilities.

Revised in 2002 and again in 2004 to address reliability niggles and to compete with its quickly-improving rivals, the current car is unlike anything else on sale.

1. Looks 8/10

Some argue the Jaguar S-Type looks are slightly contrived to create a direct link with the original S-Type from the 1960s, but others love its retro charm. Its 2004 facelift gave the mid-sized Jaguar some deeper front bumpers, which while at odds with the olde-worlde image, keep the car looking contemporary. The Jaguar S-Type has a genuine feline quality, from its four round headlights and oval grille through its curvy flanks through to its rear haunches.

2. Looks inside 8/10

There’s no doubting you’re sitting inside a Jaguar; it has a real sense of occasion, with leather covering most surfaces and a set of clear but classy-looking dials – much like an expensive chronograph watch. Jaguar’s trademark ‘J’ shaped gear gate sits ahead of a chrome push-button handbrake. The centre console sits in a curved recess and houses controls for the climate control and audio systems. The Jag’s leather seats look great and proved very comfortable too. Critics say the S-Type’s interior is old fashioned, so drivers seeking a modern, Germanic cabin should look elsewhere.

3. Practicality 7/10

The Jaguar S-Type isn’t the most practical car in its class. The boot can swallow 400 litres of luggage, rising to 810 with the rear seats folded. That’s about 100 litres less than the BMW 5 Series, mainly due to it being very shallow because of the S-Type’s sloping bodywork and space-sapping rear-wheel drive layout. There’s less legroom in the rear than many of its rivals, although it should be plenty for the average-sized occupant.

4. Ride and Handling 9/10

The Jaguar S-Type might look a little old-fashioned, but it drives as well as all but the very best in its class. The steering is responsive and well-weighted and the sport suspension fitted to our test car sharpened the chassis up well. Ride quality is excellent, only the big 18-inch alloys causing noise and very slight discomfort in the cabin. It proved to be an exceptionally refined car; the only unwanted noises or vibrations caused by the low-profile tyres.

Used Jaguar S-Type

5. Performance 9/10

The Jaguar S-Type can be specified with one of four engines: a 2.7 diesel or a 3-litre and two 4.2-litre petrol configurations; one with a supercharger.

The 2.7-litre V6 engine fitted to our test car is the pick of the range for most buyers, producing a punchy 204bhp and a huge 320lb/ft of pulling power; the bulk of which is low down in the rev range for effortless accelerating and overtaking. This adds up to a 0-60mph time of 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 143mph.

The 3-litre cuts the 0-60mph time to 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. The standard 4.2-litre will reach 60mph in 6.2 seconds, while the supercharged S-Type R will reach the same speed in just 5.3 seconds. Both are limited to 155mph.

6. Running Costs 7/10

Although the Jaguar S-Type is cheaper than many of its rivals, especially when factoring the amount of standard equipment, it is not a particularly cheap car to run, especially in the petrol-powered guises. Expect average mpg figures in the low-twenties for the 4.2-litre versions and mid-twenties for the 3-litre. The 2.7-litre diesel is the better option, with an official average figure of 41.5mpg. Insurance costs are average for this type of car, but the petrol engines fall into the highest tax band, while the diesel slots into band E, which currently costs £165 a year. Used values are behind the class leaders, but the 2.7 diesel versions commanding the best residual values with 40 per cent retained after three years/36,000 miles.

7. Reliability 8/10

The Jaguar S-Type had a reputation for reliability issues, but a raft of revisions introduced in 2002 fixed many of these. Far better ratings in owner surveys for later cars would indicate these problems have largely been ironed out.

8. Safety 8/10

Standard safety equipment in the Jaguar S-Type range include driver, passenger, side and side curtain airbags with Jaguar’s Adaptive Restraint Technology System to ensure they’re deployed correctly. ABS and electronic stability control also comes as standard on all models. The S-Type hasn’t been put through the EuroNCAP crash test programme, but it is likely to perform well should the worst happen.

9. Equipment 9/10

All models in the Jaguar S-Type range are well appointed, with an automatic gearbox, leather seats, climate control, front and rear electric windows, remote central locking, heated mirrors, alloy wheels and cruise control. Our test car was fitted with Jaguar’s optional £2,000 touch-screen sat-nav, which worked impressively, and had an option to display a Jaguar logo. The £375 Bluetooth telephone integration package is among the easiest to use we have encountered.

10. X-Factor 8/10

The Jaguar S-Type is a new car with classic car charm. It might not be up there with the class leaders by the usual measures, but it has a plenty of personality and still turns heads long after it was first introduced in 1999. It’s a car you’ll buy with your heart more than your head.


Model tested: Jaguar S-Type XS 2.7 V6 diesel auto
Range price: £29,097 – £45,102
Insurance group range: 14E – 19E
Date tested: December 2007
Road tester: Stuart Milne