S-TYPE ADDS EXTRA S-TYLE; MOTORS: It's Now a Real Sports Saloon

Article excerpt

IF memory serves me right, it was back in the 1930s when Sir William Lyons dreamed of creating his own version of automotive excellence.

In the years that followed, the Jaguar founding father's vision of "Grace, Space and Pace" resulted in a line of executive-style cars which were largely created for the chosen few.

Today, beneath the corporate cloak of its owners, Ford, the Jaguar marque is more in tune with the requirements of the mass market with the X-Type and S-Type promoting the legendary Big Cat badge to a much wider church.

The Coventry carmaker introduced the S-Type into the premium mid-size segmentin the spring of 1999, its retro styling being pitched against the likes of the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5-Series.

Although the driving experience proved a fairly painless exercise, the original S-Type's old-world styling didn't prove to be everyone's cup of tea while a somewhat low-rent look and feel to the interior proved a disappointment.

However, a couple of facelifts down the road -- one in 2002 with a second makeover last year -the S-Type is truly an executive sports saloon to be reckoned with and has now graced more than 200,000 driveways worldwide.

There are four engine options from which to choose in a range which opens up at pounds 25,570 for the 2.5-litre V6 petrol-powered entry level model, includes a hugely impressive 2.7-litre diesel, runs through a three-litre V6 petrol engine and tops out with 4.2-litre V8 petrol power which is available with or without supercharger.

I opted for the three-litre V6 Sport model which was paired with a very well sorted five-speed manual gearbox although a smooth-changing six-speed automatic transmission is also available, adding a further pounds 1,350 to your overall bill.

While I didn't subscribe to the anti-retro style group, for whom the old world look of the original S-Type was anathema, the Jaguar design team has done a good job with a makeover which not only gives the car a more muscular, leaner look, but also retains enough of the original retro styling to keep true Jag aficionados happy.

The interior has also moved on considerably. The Sport version echoes the legendary E-Type Jaguar of the Swinging Sixties with an aluminium finish to the fascia which houses a neatly laid-out dashboard to complement the button-friendly console.

In-cabin storage is a little in short supply and the long but shallow boot is not as accommodating as some rivals, but the well put together cabin is roomy enough for four adults, if a little tight on headroom in the rear for taller passengers.

Kit levels are generous on board the S-Type. …