Jaguar S-type 4.2 luxury: Future classic

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Jaguar S-type 4.2 luxury: Future classic
Future classics: Jaguar S-type 4.2 luxury

 

Jaguar S-type 4.2 luxury

Miss the defining character of the original by a tiny margin and a retro model can look like an escapee from The Thunderbirds puppet series. Small wonder the born-again Jaguar S-Type was compared to those bizarre Japanese Mark II Jag parodies built on baby front-drive Nissans when it arrived in 1999.

But Jaguar’s subtle yet inspired final S-Type facelift as a 4.2 V8 looks set to change how history views the S-Type.

The S-Type’s troubles began at conception. The Ford team behind the reborn Thunderbird was given the green light only if its platform could be shared with Lincoln and Jaguar. So the T-Bird team used their hometown advantage to lock-in their baby before the packaging of a
space-efficient sedan could destroy its traditional long-bonnet, short-tail looks.

This left the all-new Jaguar and Lincoln sedans without vital rear hip and legroom to compete with the Germans. Factor in the confused revival of traditional Jag looks, a plasticky dashboard and soft suspension and S-Type sales started to dwindle dramatically.

We had to wait until late 2004 for the X204 facelift to address this. As the sub-$100,000 V6 models faced less buyer resistance, the final 4.2-litre V8 Luxury model struggled to justify its $130,000 sticker.

Hindsight, rarity and a big depreciation hit are ready to elevate this most desirable version to where it deserved to be.

Following the X202 upgrade, which brought a new dash and a re-engineered chassis, the X204 finished the job with styling tweaks evoking the finer lines of the drop dead gorgeous Jaguars of yore.

They included a fatter, shorter grille, a classier rear that looked less like an AU Falcon, finer bumpers and slimmer side skirts. A lighter alloy bonnet enhanced balance. Safety and refinement were also boosted.

After the earlier 4.0-litre V8 disgraced itself with cylinder bore issues and fragile plastics, the final 4.2 V8 was quicker and more reliable. ZF’s latest six-speed auto was the icing on the cake. The wild supercharged R added another dimension although its hefty price and sporty detailing divided the Jaguar faithful.

This leaves the last S-Type 4.2 V8 Luxury as a car to savour regardless of rear cabin space, something that few of its anodyne German and Japanese rivals maintain over time.

And even if Ian Callum’s more generic look for its XF replacement has boosted sales, not everyone is convinced. The final S-Type V8 is now in a class of its own, even if it’s more MkII 3.8 auto than race-pedigreed TWR XJS.

 

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