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2002 Jaguar S-Type Road Test

By Brian Moody
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $40,000 - $50,000 Luxury Sedan
Who should buy this car: Someone looking for a stylish sedan where comfort comes first, but sport doesn't take a back seat.
Comparable models in this class: Audi A6 4.2, BMW 540, Infiniti Q45, Lexus GS430, Mercedes Benz E430,
Many Jaguar purists have been concerned, and rightfully so, that Ford'srecent acquisition of the Jaguar brand would mean a watering down, or all-outloss of those things that make a Jaguar a Jaguar. Certainly no one would arguethat Jaguar has been an industry leader in reliability, but Jaguar cars havealways had a certain something that makes them unique. Owning a Jaguar hasalways been about so much more than just driving a car. The question is; doesthe 2002 Jaguar S-Type live up to the Jaguar heritage?

Perhaps due partly to Ford's influence, or perhaps due to changing marketconditions, Jaguar has recently realized not everyone can afford a $60,000 -$100,000 car. Both the S-Type and the all-new X-Type are Jaguar's attempt tobuild market share from the ground up. Now aspiring executives and futureOvitz's can have a little luxury now. The new Jaguar X-Type is priced around$30,000 for a V6 model, and the more Jag-like S-Type 4.0L is priced closer to$48,000 . So you see, there is now a Jaguar for almost everyone, and those wholove the English brand can ease themselves into Jag ownership for little morethan the price of a fully loaded Toyota Camry.

The2002 Jaguar S-Type looks, for all the world, like a Jaguar. In fact the name andexterior styling harkens back the 1960s when the 1963 S-Type was a new, andquite competent sport saloon. The front-end treatment evokes remembrances ofboth the old S-Type as well as the XK sports cars of the 1950s. A verticallystretched grille with built-in driving lights, and two large, round headlightssubtly sculpted into the front fenders all show the new S-Type to be a stylisticdescendant of the original Jaguar S-Type. Ironically, in 1968, the XJ-6 replacedthe old S-Type, yet the new S-Type is positioned as a slightly less expensivealternative to the larger XJ series of cars. Seems like the S-Type has come fullcircle. And while the XJ series of cars appear to have changed very little overthe past 30 years, the S-Type is an all new car which made its debut onlyrecently.

The S-Type is available with a 3.0L V6 or an all Jaguar 4.0L V8. There is asport version which boasts bigger wheels and no chrome trim plus the CATSsystem. An optional navigation system is available as is voice activatedcommunication system. Also available is a cold-weather package with seat warmersand rain-sensing wipers. Thankfully, the Jaguar S-Type is rear-wheel drive.

Inside the new S-Type there is evidence of a Ford influence. While the frontseats are firm and supportive, and wood trim abounds (as one would expect from aBritish luxury car), the dash area seems somewhat lacking in true luxury. Mostcontrols are easy to find, and are within the driver's reach. It's notfunctionality, or even practicality that is lacking inside this Jaguar - it'scharacter.

Theinstrument cluster houses a large speedometer and tachometer, with the usualfuel and engine temperature gauges. Frankly it all looks as if it came straightout of a Ford Taurus. While driving at night, the gauges light up in the ratherpedestrian green tint. Other luxury cars such as the Chrysler 300M or LexusGS430 have a unique, backlit look to their instruments, that's what one expectsfrom a luxury car. Further evidence of Ford influence is found in the center"pod" configuration used to house the audio, climate control, andbuttons for the seat warmers. The switchgear for all dash mounted componentslooks and feels too much like a Ford.

A minor complaint is the lack of interior storage space. A small centerconsole and a retractable bin mounted next to the stereo are simply not enoughto hold a CD wallet or individual CD cases, sunglasses, cell-phone, checkbook,or any of other little things most of us carry in the car. The interior overallis not as large as the outside might suggest, rear seat occupants werecomfortable but slightly cramped.

On the road is where the S-Type really shines. Many companies save costs byusing a technique called "platform sharing," and Jaguar is noexception. The Jaguar S-Type shares a platform with the Lincoln LS and FordThunderbird, but the engine, suspension and drive train are all Jaguar (if youorder the V6 version of the S-Type, there are some Ford components in thatengine). Jaguar's 4.0L V8 is as smooth and powerful as ever. With 281 hp stuffedinto a car roughly the size of an Audi A6, this little Jag can really move.Acceleration is very impressive. Engine noise is minimal - under hardacceleration there is mechanical noise, but it has a pleasant and reassuringgrowl, lacking the "rattly" sound many lower priced cars exhibit atfull throttle. Handling is purposefully sporty without sacrificing comfort. Manyluxury/sport sedans sacrifice luxury for razor sharp handling, not so with theS-Type.

Althoughcornering is tight, controlled and results in only minimal body roll, highwaydriving is still smooth and serene - it feels like a Jaguar. Order the"Sport" version of the S-Type and handling is further enhanced by 17inch wheels and tires, plus Jaguars CATS system (CATS stands for Computer ActiveTechnology Suspension) which automatically adjusts the shock absorbers whileyou're driving. The Sport version also exchanges all chrome for body coloredtrim giving the car a monochromatic look.

Overall, the 2002 Jaguar S-Type is more than the sum of its parts. While it'strue this mid-size Jag does utilize some bits and pieces from its parent companyFord, the execution is clearly Jaguar - the exception being the interior whichfeels a bit bland. In V8 form, the S-Type is powerful and sporty without beingharsh or crude. The S-Type excels in terms of exterior styling - anyone fond ofJaguar cars past will surely love the looks of this car.

In short, the S-Type does live up to its Jaguar heritage, but like the Jagsof decades past, there are plenty of quirks to iron out. Many loyal to the brandaccept these "quirks" as simply an element of "Jaguar-ness,"while those who have been spoiled by the near perfection of Lexus and BMW mightbe a bit let down. Still, it seems only fair to recognize that the essence ofJaguar is much more than mere words or numbers can explain or calculate. Thereis a certain Jaguar quality that looms larger than nuts and bolts - a Jaguarsays something, it has a history and a heritage. To that extent, the S-Type hassucceeded in capturing the essence of Jaguar. And for better or worse, more ofus can now afford to park that "certain something" in our owndriveway.

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Specifications 

2002 Jaguar S-Type RearWheel Drive Sedan
Engine Type  4.0L double overhead cam (DOHC) 32 valve V8 with variable valve timing, 
Horsepower 281 @ 6,100
Torque 287 @ 4,300
Fuel Recommended Premium  93 Octane Unleaded.
Transmission  5-speed automatic transmission with "J" shifter
Tires (Std.)
Tires (Opt.)
P225/55HR16 tires
P235/50ZR17 High performance tires
Overall Length 191.3"
Wheelbase 114.5"
Width 80.3"
Turning Diameter 37.7 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 3,903 lbs.
Fuel Tank 18.4 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 17, hwy 24
Acceleration 0 to 60 6.6 Seconds
Base Sticker Price  $49,330   Plus $645 Destination Charge.

Standard Equipment

  • 8-way power driver and passenger seat with adjustable lumbar support
  • Split-folding rear bench seat
  • 1 one-touch power windows
  • Dual zone climate controls for driver and front passenger
  • Interior air filtration
  • Wood and leather interior
  • 2 position memory driver's seat
  • AM/FM cassette 6-CD stereo with 8 speakers
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Automatic headlamps
  • universal Homelink garage door opener 

Major Available Options

  • Navigation System
  • Communications Package
    Includes: portable cellular phone with voice-activated controls, Navigation System and a 4-year subscription to JaguarNet (VEMS).
  • Sport Package
    Includes 17" alloy sport wheels, P235/50ZR17 low-profile tires and Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS).
  • Weather Package
    Includes heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Dynamic Stability Control.

For more information on the Jaguar S-Type, visit jaguarvehicles.com/

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