Welcome to the Car Throttle Parting Shot, where we take a look at a production vehicle that has been recently discontinued, and ask “Was it really that bad?”. The Jaguar S-Type was always a bit of a throwback. The S-Type's exterior design showed shades of the '60s Jaguar saloons, and it was always posh and comfortable. The distinct styling also differentiates the S-Type from other luxury sedans that were available on the market, which typically feature sharp edges and flame surfacing. It has been replaced recently by the new XF, so it's now time to take a Parting Shot at the retro styled Jaguar S-Type. At its debut for 2000, the Jaguar S-Type signified the first real fruit of the Ford-Jaguar partnership. Utilizing the same chassis that was developed for both the Lincoln LS and the retro-future 2 seat Thunderbird, the S-Type was the brand's first true competing model in the modern midsize luxury segment. However, any sort of dynamic excellence that platform may have exhibited, it faded rather quickly as the S-Type lived long past its expiration date. Its retro styling eventually became synonymous with a brand that was perceived as stuck in the past. Jaguar made continual improvements over the years to rectify many early mistakes. The S-Type was a four-door sedan produced from 2000-'08. It was only produced for one generation and most of the incremental changes made were predominately done on the inside. Originally, Jaguar rated the S-Type's 3.0-liter V6 at 240 horsepower, though there were two revisions to lower that power rating over the years. The 4.0-liter V8 was rated at 281 hp, but was also de-rated to 277 hp for 2002. A five-speed automatic was at first standard, but for 2003, Jaguar replaced it with a six-speed and made a new five-speed manual transmission standard on the 3.0 trim. The manual was never popular with consumers, however, and Jaguar dropped it two years later. For 2004, the optional V8 was upped to 4.2 liters and 293 hp, and for 2006 it was raised to 300 hp. Regardless of year, the V6 was found to be underpowered given the S-Type's considerable weight, and publications at that time recommended sticking with the beefier V8. Despite the light steering and a soft suspension, two deliberate traits of Jaguars in general, all S-Types were reported to have sure and stable handling by all of the trade press. An important addition to the Jaguar S-Type came in 2003, when a 390-hp supercharged R version was released. From 2004 to its final year, the S-Type R produced 400 hp. While it was capable of doing 0-60 just 5.3 seconds, there was more to the R than mere muscle. It was an all-around performer, equipped with larger disc brakes, an adjustable sport-tuned suspension system and 18-inch wheels, which was upgraded to 19s for 2008. Still, the S-Type R could never stand toe-to-toe with the best high-performance sedans from Germany or Japan. At first, the S-Type's cabin was widely panned. Both the design and materials seemed down-market and indicative of the car's Ford roots. For 2003, the interior received a thorough overhaul, bringing it more in line with the Jaguar name in terms of design and luxury trappings. The interior was upgraded again in 2005, but changes were minor. Nevertheless, controls maintained a certain "Old English Pub" quality to them and the switchgear gave away the secret that they were indeed from the Ford parts bin. Equipment levels were also increased as the many years went by, from the optional CD changer when introduced to Bluetooth phone connectivity when it was slated to be discontinued. This being an British Saloon, leather and wood trim were never in short supply. In reviews of the Jaguar S-Type, consumers typically praise the car's styling and features. They've commented unfavorably about its small trunk and the poor shift quality in earlier cars. The Jaguar's overall reputation for reliability is also not as good as those of other midsize luxury sedans from either the German or Japanese automakers. So, was the Jaguar S-Type a bad automobile? Not necessarily. It was developed in tandem with the Lincoln LS (Which really wasn't a bad automobile either). It was stately, and it was a sedan that could never be mistaken for anything other than a Jaguar. Unfortunately, the design did not age all that well, and being a Jaguar, reliability couldn't measure up to the standards set by Lexus, or Infiniti. Hell, it couldn't compete with the reliability of Audi, BMW, or Mercedes Benz either, but that's missing the point about this car. The latest S-Type, in the R configuration, provided it's owner with a 400 HP V-8, touring car tuned suspension, world class British styled interior furnishings, all wrapped in a body that is distinctive, and that will never be confused as a German or a Japanese Luxury Saloon. The residuals on an S-Type Jaguar can't compete with the Germans or the Japanese either, so this luxurious, fast, and capable cat can be had for quite a bargain. And that's my Parting Shot.
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