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2004 Jaguar S-Type

2004-04-05 12:45

Wilmer Muller

The Type-S was first introduced in 1999 and in 2002 it also received an upgrade in terms of fit and finish. However its latest facelift is more dramatic and includes not only styling changes but also enhancements to improve handling.

It is still one of the most beautiful vehicles in its class where it rivals the big German guns such as the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class.

The Jag is a good alternative if you are not a fan of German brands and if you are looking for something more distinctive. Its German competitors are also a common sight on our roads, while the S-Type has a more exclusive image.

The car's retro styling is striking, and like most other Jaguars it will date well. This is a car you can buy and keep for the rest of your life while your neighbours gossip about your "old money".

There are no changes to the S-Type's engine line-up but Jaguar South Africa says it is considering introducing a diesel model later this year. A diesel version of its smaller X-Type sibling will also make its way to local shores soon.


Although the changes on the S-Type may seem minor to the untrained eye they are significant and not only restricted to exterior styling.

The biggest engineering change is the use of an aluminium rather than steel for the bonnet. The result is better weight distribution and handling balance.

Jaguar says the exterior styling changes are a case of "less is more". They are subtle and Jaguar didn't fiddle too much with the overall look.

At the front the S-Type gets a simpler, cleaner front bumper. Fog lights are now standard on all S-Types except for the R model.

The R's bumper has an even more dynamic look with a larger central air vent and additional side vents with mesh inserts in place if the front fog lights.

The biggest change is reserved for the grille which is now a bit lower and broader. Its vertical lines are slimmer and it gets a new round Jaguar growler badge. The S-Type R still has its distinctive and sporty mesh grille.

Jaguar also reshaped the side sills to give the car a more prominent and athletic look from the side. At the rear the boot and the bumper has been restyled. There is also an option of chrome or body-coloured highlighting.

The lip of the bootlid has been raised and a new chrome strip running the full width of the boot finishes it off. The taillights now have clear lenses and a jewel-like appearance.

There's a choice of five new alloy wheel designs in sizes up to 18-inch diameter.


The most striking change in the interior is new dials, looking more upmarket and displaying info better.

There is also a new pallete of interior colours and trims and Jaguar claims that quality has also improved.

A new aluminium fascia finish option, a first for a Jaguar sedan, is also available. Buyers can also choose between a host of wood finish options.

The S-Type comes with a lots of standard and optional comfort features. Heated and electric seats, cruise control, climate control, twin-function trip computer, airbags and much more are available across the range.

Options include park assist, self-leveling xenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers.


In addition to front, side, and front and rear side-curtain airbags, the new S-Typeoffers Jaguar's Adaptive Restraint Technology System (ARTS) which has ultrasonic front passenger sensing coupled with dual-stage front airbags.

It also features an energy-absorbing seating system, incorporating an anti-whiplash mechanism in the front seat back rests, and pyrotechnic pre-tensioners for all seat belts.

Jaguar says the stiff and strong S-Type body exceeds crash legislation requirements worldwide, and it also has a decoupling brake pedal mechanism and a deformable plastic fuel tank.

ARTS is standard on all new S-Types and features the world's first Ultrasonic Occupant Sensing System, to give maximum control over the deployment of airbags in any kind of impact.

ARTS can even decide not to deploy airbags when that would be either unnecessary or dangerous.

As part of ARTS, Ultrasonic Occupant Sensing is combined with a series of other sensors which assess a passenger's weight, the position of the driver in relation to the steering wheel, whether or not seat belts are being worn and, in the event of an accident, whether or not the impact is severe enough to need the airbags.

DSC, EBA and ABS are also standard on the S-Type.


S-Type 3.0 V6

  • Power: 179kW
  • Torque: 300Nm

    S-Type 4.2 V8

  • Power: 224kW
  • Torque: 420Nm

    S-Type R (Supercharged)

  • Power: 298kW
  • Torque: 535Nm

    The V6 and V8 models come with a six-speed automatic transmission while the S-type R has a sequential manual/auto version.

    Driving it

    Despite its size the S-Type is quite easy to drive and manoeuvre. It has a comfortable driving position and one feels right at home in the cabin. The S-Type has a firm ride and all the cars are willing performers.

    All the engines are smooth and refined with probably the most pleasing growl in the business. There is also little road and wind noise at high speeds, complimenting the car's overall comfortable cruising abilities.

    The S-Type R may not be quite a match for some of the performance versions of its German competitors, but is a fun car to drive. With 298 kW under the bonnet this supercharged Jag has plenty of wooma available at all times.

    It is easy to drive the S-Type R rather fast - and the other two derivatives as well - and it reaches high speeds easily. The nicest thing, however, is that it is also a pleasure to drive the cars in slow city conditions, where one doesn't feel like a frustrated jaguar in a cage.

    Overall its ergonomics are good but the plastic surrounding of the audio system and climate control looks a bit on the cheap side. A better finish for this central console would improve the overall interior ambience.

    Despite this the S-Type still feels plush and luxurious and the interior is now much better than that of the original 1999 model.


    Jaguar doesn't expect the S-Type to steal significant sales from the 5 Series and E-Class, and instead is positioning the S-Type as a kind of niche exclusive sedan.

    It has distinctive styling with sporty genes. Yes, there is still a bit of a snobbish look and feel to the car (which isn't criticism at all) but it is subtler than before.

    Unlike some Jaguars of yesteryear the S-Type doesn't have a dull approach to upmarket motoring.

    In its face-lifted guise the S-Type is definitely a better car and a head-turner. It offers a good driving experience and seems solid, and the fact that it has Ford genes doesn't come through at all now.

    This cat means business and is a worthy alternative if you are in the market for a luxury sedan. It has loads of class, good road manners and upmarket appeal.


  • 3.0 SE: R443 500
  • 4.2 V8: R493 000
  • 4.2 V8 "R": R635 500

    Included in the price is a five year 100 000 km Drive Plan.

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