2002 Jaguar S-TYPE Preview

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Ian Norris Ian Norris Editor
December 31, 2001

The Los Angeles Auto Show will be the first public showing of the most powerful Jaguar sedan ever, the 400 hp S-Type R. With a supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 under the hood, the new model has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph and will accelerate from zero to sixty mph in just 5.3 seconds. The R model is part of an updated S-Type range that is also being previewed at the Detroit International Auto Show, which opens on January 12.

The S-Type, Jaguar’s competitor for the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, was introduced in 1999 as the first step in Ford’s plan to widen Jaguar’s market and increase sales. Over 135,000 S-Types have been sold so far, making a healthy contribution to an expansion program that aims to see Jaguar sales quadruple between 1998 and 2003. The growth will come as a result of adding the S-Type and the recently introduced X-Type to the traditional Jaguar range of large XJ8 luxury sedans and XK8 sports cars.

When it was introduced, the S-Type was seen as a natural successor to the Mark 2 compact sedans of the 1960s, and its styling carries a number of links to those cars, particularly in the shape of the grille and the way the waistline droops at the rear. The lines have not changed for the updated version. A mesh grille for the ‘R’ type and chrome window surrounds are the only external changes, but under the skin there’s plenty that’s new.

The S-Type was originally launched with 3.0-liter V-6 and a 4.0-liter V-8 engines. Now a 2.5-liter version of the V-6 has been added, while the 3.0-liter V-6 has been modified to improve fuel consumption and the 4.0-liter V-8 has been enlarged to 4.2 liters. The bigger V-8 gives a seven-percent power increase over the previous version, producing 300 hp, while torque has grown by eight percent to 308 lb-ft.

2002 Jaguar S-TYPE

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Supercharging to the letter

But that power fades into insignificance next to the supercharged R version. Adding the blower boosts power by no less than a third, giving an output of 400 hp and 408 lb-ft of torque. This makes the new car a competitor for the high-performance BMW M5 and the AMG-tuned versions of Mercedes’ E-Class. Both the R and the normally aspirated S-Type drive through a new six-speed automatic gearbox from ZF of Germany, which is also available as an option on the smaller-engined versions. Manual shift is available on the V-6-engined cars, but the V-8 only comes with the auto box.

Chassis modifications include a new front suspension that uses aluminum components, a modified rear suspension and a body that has been made 10 percent stiffer. Dynamic Stability Control, which uses computer control to apply individual wheel brakes when required to prevent understeer and oversteer on corners and on bad surfaces, is standard, while Jaguar’s adaptive suspension system, which controls the dampers and springs to adapt handling for performance or comfort, is an option.

A first for this new S-Type is an electronic parking brake, which replaces the handbrake lever with a console-mounted switch. The brake is automatically applied whenever the ignition is switched off and is released when the shift lever is moved out of ‘Park’. Another development that’s new to the luxury segment is a movable pedal block that allows drivers to adjust the pedals, along with the seat and steering, to achieve a perfect fit. The pedals are even party of the memory system, so that two different drivers may enter their settings in the car’s memory and call them up when they take the wheel.

The cars will be on sale soon, and the good news is that despite the improvements, prices have remained stable.

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