2003 Jaguar S-Type R
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by Jim Kerr

Styling is what attracts buyers to Jaguar first. Sensuous lines,
balanced proportions, and timeless looks are part of every Jaguar model,
but none embraces Jaguar’s heritage as much as the S-Type. Since this
four-door sedan was introduced in 1999, it has become the fastest
selling Jaguar model in history. For 2003, the S-Type has kept its
eye-catching styling largely unchanged, but beneath the skin, the car is
nearly 70% new.

Three models make up the S-Type line-up. There is the base 3.0 litre V6,
and the 4.2 litre V8, but the big news for 2003 has to be the new “R”
model. Jaguar uses the R designation on their supercharged high
performance models. The S-Type R uses a 4.2 litre, double overhead cam
V8 engine with an intercooled Eaton supercharger to produce 400
horsepower. This makes it the most powerful model in Jaguar’s line-up,
and as you would expect, performance is exciting, but it comes at a
premium price: $89,950. The base model S-Type comes with a normally
aspirated 3.0 litre V6, and at $59,950, it shares the same look, feel,
and quality of the “R”, but not quite the performance.

Don’t interpret this to think the 3.0 litre V6 S-Type is a slouch.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Coupled to a five-speed manual,
or the new six-speed automatic, the 3.0 litre engine pulls strongly at
any rpm. A deep, throaty, but not loud, exhaust note under full
acceleration complements the car’s performance perfectly.

2003 Jaguar S-Type R
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Although the 3.0 litre 240 horsepower rating remains unchanged from the 2002
model, performance feels much stronger due to a three-stage variable
intake system and a new continuously variable cam phasing system.
Handling is balanced and very neutral even when pushed hard in the
twisties, with minimal body roll and a comfortable ride on broken
pavement. My only complaint about the 3.0 litre is minor: the steering
feels too light; a little more driver feedback would make it great.

As soon as I pressed the accelerator on the R model, I knew there was a
huge difference. A slight whine from the supercharger is accompanied by
rapid acceleration at any speed. The car accelerates so smoothly and
quietly it is deceptive. Keeping a close eye on the speedo or using
cruise is recommended.

Get going a little too fast and the R’s huge four-piston brake calipers
and four wheel discs (14.3 inch in front) can set you on your nose. All
S-Types are also equipped with electronic stability control, four-channel
ABS, and Panic Assist braking, which helps apply the brakes in emergency
situations. With all that technology, drivers can get optimum braking
and control in any conditions.

2003 Jaguar S-Type
Click image to enlarge

R models also get Jaguar’s CATS (Computer Active Technology Suspension).
The computer changes suspension settings on the go, and even when driven
aggressively over bumpy roads, the ride was firm but never harsh. The
steering feel seemed better than the 3.0 litre.

Inside the S-Type sedans, the passengers are pampered in leather and
surrounded by bird’s eye maple wood panelling. The styling is
uncluttered and luxurious, with comfortable seating positions for front
seat occupants. The rear seat feels larger than the earlier S-Type but
is still small for large adults. Controls and gauges are well placed,
and the electrically adjustable steering wheel and pedal positions make
finding that perfect driving position easy.

The six-speed automatic is controlled with a console mounted “J” gate
shifter with more positive detents for manual gear selections. The
parking brake is an electric switch at the rear of the console. The
switch can be used manually, or the computer will disengage the brake
when the transmission is shifted out of park and reapply the brake when
the ignition key is removed.

A lot of the S-Type features are not obvious at first glance. Audio,
climate, telephone, and the optional navigation system can be operated
with Jaguar’s optional voice activation system. The air bag system uses
an array of sensors, including ultrasonic, to determine the severity of
the accident, the position of the occupants, and how to deploy the
airbags. Front seat side air bags are now supplemented with front and
rear.side curtain airbags. The list goes on.

With the same great styling, but a new car beneath, the S-Type is
faster, smoother, safer, and loaded with extras.

2003 Jaguar S-Type R
Click image to enlarge

Technical Data:

2003 Jaguar S-Type R
Base price $89,950
Type 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size sedan; longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive
Engine 4.2 litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
Horsepower 400 @ 6100 rpm
Torque 408 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic w/sport mode
Tires 245/40ZR-18
Curb weight 1800 kg (3969 lb.)
Wheelbase 2909 mm (114.5 in.)
Length 4877 mm (192.0 in.)
Width 1818 mm (71.6 in.)
Height 1423 mm (56.0 in.)
Cargo Capacity 400 litres (14.1 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 18.5 l/100 km (15 mpg)
  Hwy: 9.2 l/100 km (30 mpg)

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