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2006 Jaguar S-Type review

October 14, 2005 03:50 PM EST | Jaguar , Luxury Brands , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageA solid all-around luxury sedan, the S-Type is exactly what you would expect from Jaguar in terms of style, form and function.

Pros
Elegantly appointed interiors, solid all-around performance, classic British styling, full load of standard safety equipment.

Cons
A few cheap interior bits, small rear seat, fussy J-gate shifter, no all-wheel-drive option.

What's New for 2006
For 2006, the Jaguar S-Type gets a bit more power for its available V8 engine along with a new braking system. There's also a new chrome-mesh grille insert, optional satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and new 17-inch wheels for the 3.0 S-Type.

Introduction:
The S-Type sedan debuted for the 2000 model year and doubled Jaguar's worldwide sales within a year. It competes in the hotly contested midsize luxury sedan category against formidable competitors like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M35/M45, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Although it shares its basic platform with the Lincoln LS, the S-Type is nonetheless a true Jaguar, as it features its own powertrains, suspension tuning, steering and interior and exterior design. The only evidence of a relationship with Lincoln is a smattering of shared interior parts, but for the most part, the S-Type looks and feels the way you would expect a Jaguar to look and feel. All S-Types come standard with stability control, along with four-wheel antilock disc brakes with a panic assist feature and seats that offer anti-whiplash technology. Additional protection is provided by standard side curtain airbags that protect both front and rear occupants. Short-stature adults are able to sit farther away from the steering wheel thanks to power-adjustable pedals that also feature a memory function to store the preferences of more than one driver. Situated in the center of the dashboard is an optional LCD screen that controls stereo, climate, navigation and telephone functions via touchscreen interface and voice recognition technology. Despite its age, the S-Type competes on solid footing with its peers in the midsize luxury sedan segment. It is a beautifully styled car, easily recognizable as a Jaguar from a distance and serves as a fresh departure from typical styling motifs in this class. Although BMW and Mercedes have the upper hand when it comes to cutting-edge technology, the S-Type remains a desirable alternative for those looking for something a little different in this category.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
Jaguar's S-Type sedan is available in two trims: 3.0 V6 and 4.2 V8 (a high-performance R version is also available). Standard equipment includes leather seats, Bronze Madrona wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, a 140-watt sound system with a CD player, a power sunroof and alloy wheels. An Aluminum Sport package adds upgraded wheels, sport seats, aluminum trim and a sport suspension. Stepping up to the 4.2 V8 model adds more power adjustments for the front seats; a memory function for the seats, mirrors, pedals and steering column; a programmable garage door opener; rain-sensing wipers; and a 320-watt Alpine audio system with CD changer. The V8 sedan can also be had with the VDP Edition package, which offers premium leather upholstery with contrasting piping on the seats, premium carpeted floor mats, heated seats, burled walnut trim, front parking sensors, HID headlamps, chrome mirrors and an electric rear sunshade.

Powertrains and Performance:
The S-Type's standard 3.0-liter V6 makes 235 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. Models equipped with the 4.2-liter V8 boast 300 hp and come standard with the same six-speed automatic.

Safety:
Standard equipment includes side-impact airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags, all connected to an advanced adaptive restraint technology system. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with panic assist are standard, along with stability and traction control. In NHTSA tests, the Jaguar S-Type earned four out of five stars for front-occupant protection in side impacts. Rear-seat protection merited a full five stars. Frontal-impact tests have not been conducted.

Interior Design and Special Features:
With a cabin slathered in real wood and sumptuous leather, the S-Type is among the most opulently trimmed sedans in its class. Some of the switchgear and controls are hard to use, however, and seem more suited for a Ford than a Jaguar. S-Types equipped with the navigation system have a touchscreen that controls most stereo, climate, DVD navigation and telephone features, requiring drivers to cycle through tedious menus. Jaguar has done away with a traditional handbrake, replacing it with an electronic parking brake operated using a switch on the console. There's a high-tech aluminum trim option in place of traditional wood, a unique choice for Jaguar.

Driving Impressions:
Both S-Types display surprisingly nimble driving dynamics along with a comfortable ride quality and smooth power delivery. The V8 is the way to go if you like to go everywhere fast, but most people will find the performance of the V6 perfectly acceptable. The six-speed automatic not only delivers smooth shifts, it gives the S-Type respectable fuel mileage as well.

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