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2006 Jaguar S-Type R reviews

March 10, 2006 11:24 AM EST | Jaguar , Luxury Brands , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageTraditional English styling, combined with performance typically reserved for German rivals, gives the S-Type R unique appeal in a segment full of worthy competitors.

Pros
Endless torque from supercharged V8, surefooted handling, understated styling enhancements over the regular S-Type, luxurious interior, competitive price.

Cons
A few cheap interior bits, small rear seat, no manual transmission available.

What's New for 2006
For 2006, the Jaguar S-Type R gets a new chrome-mesh grille insert, an improved braking system and optional satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

Introduction:
After watching BMW and Mercedes have all the fun with their Motorsport-tuned 5 Series (the M5) and AMG-bolstered E-Class (the E55), Jaguar finally jumped into the fray with the S-Type R midsize sport sedan in 2003. Fortified with a supercharged V8, it's one of the fastest Jaguars ever produced. It may seem a bit out of character for such a traditional brand, but Jaguar's success in racing dates back many decades, so it only seems fitting that its production models would show a little bit more of the company's competitive spirit. Nearly every aspect of the car was reengineered to answer to a higher power, that power being its 4.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that produces 400 horsepower. With its standard six-speed automatic transmission, the S-Type R can rocket to 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds and attain an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. High-performance Brembo brakes are enlisted to haul it down from high speeds, and a sport suspension enhanced with Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) system keeps it under control in even the most demanding conditions. There's more to the S-Type R than just beefy mechanicals, however, as both the interior and exterior were given special treatments to distinguish the R from its less potent stablemates. The cabin features a leather-trimmed "R" steering wheel, unique sport seats and gray bird's eye maple wood trim. Exterior modifications include a modest rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights and a bright metal mesh grille with a color-keyed surround. Already a distinctive and luxurious sedan, the S-Type R achieves a level of performance that few sedans on the road can match. Its German rivals still have the edge in performance, but you would be hard-pressed to drive the R and not come away thoroughly impressed with its capabilities. In a world of stylish luxury sedans and hard-edged performance cars, the S-Type R successfully blends equal parts of both.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The S-Type R is available only as a four-door sedan in one trim level. Owing to its luxury roots, nearly every type of comfort and convenience feature comes standard, including power-adjustable sport seats, a DVD-based navigation system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, 18-inch alloy wheels, an active suspension, power-adjustable pedals, a leather-wrapped performance steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, bird's eye maple wood trim, automatic dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and a 320-watt Alpine audio system.

Powertrains and Performance:
The standard engine is a supercharged 4.2-liter V8 rated at 400 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission sends the power to the rear wheels. Performance is exemplary, with a 0-to-60 time of just 5.3 seconds, according to Jaguar, and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Safety:
Standard safety equipment on the S-Type R includes side airbags for front occupants, side curtain airbags for the front and rear, anti-whiplash seats, electronic stability and traction control and high-performance Brembo brakes with emergency braking assist. 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:
Slathered in real bird's eye maple wood trim and sumptuous leather, the S-Type R's interior has few equals when it comes to outright opulence. The sporty gray wood trim gives the car a less traditional look in tune with its hot-rod image. As in other luxury sedans, the cabin features a central touchscreen system that controls the stereo, climate, DVD navigation and telephone features, requiring the driver 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.

Driving Impressions:
The S-Type R is a real thrill ride. Between its explosive V8, taut handling, hefty steering and powerful brakes, the S-Type R is the kind of sedan that makes you seek out every twist and turn. As adept as it is in the turns, however, it doesn't punish you during more sedate driving, as its suspension offers an acceptable compromise between hard-edged performance and everyday comfort. Sure, a manual transmission would give an added measure of sport sedan feel, but as it is, you're not apt to miss it much.

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