2008 Jaguar S-TYPE Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 5, 2008

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type may look conservative and dated, and its interior is cramped, but it still delivers some of the best performance in its class, especially in one of the V-8 trims.

To bring you this extensive review on the 2008 Jaguar S-Type, the car experts at TheCarConnection.com looked to some of the best sources for reviews. Then TheCarConnection’s editors brought their own driving experience with the S-Type to make this review especially useful.

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type is the British brand's mid-size sedan, with a design that still stands out in its class but dates nearly 10 years. Less than a year before the 2008 Jaguar S-Type is replaced by the 2009 Jaguar XF (which arrives at dealerships in early spring of 2008), it gets a very subtle makeover and some upgraded features.

Jaguar says all S-Types for the 2008 model year wear an updated front end. The look keeps the elegant grille and quad-oval headlamps, but incorporates the 2008 Jaguar S-Type R's bumper on all models, along with its mesh grille. A range of new wheels give the S-Type more flair, starting with 17-inchers and working up to 19-inchers on the R version.

The S-Type's interior hasn't aged quite as gracefully as the exterior; its dashboard design uses materials that look conservative and somewhat dull by today's standards. The seating of the 2008 Jaguar S-Type also feels rather low and tight for all occupants, with the wide center console occupying much of the space in front. Also, the backseat lacks both legroom and headroom; it's not large enough for most adults. In addition, trunk space is disappointingly small, likely due to the tapered trunk line, although there's a ski pass-through.

Review continues below

Base S-Types come standard, as before, with a 235-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, and either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 is the step-up option, available only with the automatic, and the high-performance R model continues with a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter V-8 delivering 400 horsepower. The R also gets the six-speed automatic transmission, upgraded Brembo four-wheel disc brakes, 18-inch rims (with 19-inch rims available), and Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension system. All 2008 Jaguar S-Type models have rear-wheel drive.

Each of the S-Type models offer satisfying performance, but the S-Type R has an attractive mix of elegant, under-the-radar looks and jaw-dropping performance. One of the S-Type's strengths is its well-tuned suspension, which manages to soak up most bumps and rough surfaces expertly, yet stay reasonably tight to enable responsive handling, with a surprisingly good, communicative steering feel. The interior is generally quiet. However, with the sporty 2008 Jaguar S-Type R's stiffer suspension, there's a fair amount of road noise.

For 2008, the S-Type gets new seats, a leather steering wheel is standard, and satin-mahogany wood trim is optional across the lineup. Rear Park Assist is also among the standard features. Options on the 2008 Jaguar S-Type include electrically adjustable pedals, Front Park Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert.

All 2008 Jaguar S-Type models have standard front side and side-curtain airbags, as well as electronic stability control. The S-Type has been tested by the federal government in side-impact protection only, where it received a mix of four- and five-star scores.

8

2008 Jaguar S-TYPE

Styling

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type is a distinctively styled luxury automobile that scores big with Jaguar fans or someone who wants a unique design.

Luxury car buyers looking for an alternative to the more common German rivals have a chance to stand apart from the crowd while piloting the 2008 Jaguar S-Type.

Kelley Blue Book notes, "Distinctive styling is Jaguar's strength," and says that "this holds true for the S-Type." The curvaceous exterior is immediately recognizable as a Jaguar, even though the Jaguar S-Type shares its underpinnings with the now-defunct Lincoln LS. Jaguar designers brought elements of their famous styles of the 1960s to create a luxury car that stands out from the competition. The S-Type Jaguar has been around since 2000, with the last major changes to the design in 2006. For 2008, Jaguar upgrades the look of the Jaguar S-Type by including the sporty mesh grille and special front bumper of the R model as standard equipment for the entire model range. Edmunds refers to it as the "classier-looking sibling of the Lincoln LS." Nine years is a pretty long model run nowadays, however, and although Car and Driver considers the exterior styling of this 2008 Jaguar a high point for fans of the design, they acknowledge that the "S-type is really showing its age in...looks."

The Jaguar S-Type carries its English style into the passenger compartment as well. Jaguars are known for their classy interiors, which Car and Driver characterizes as "typical wood and leather Jaguar interior." Drivers of the 2008 Jaguar S-Type are welcomed by a burl walnut wood veneer, while the Jaguar S-Type R sports a matte-finish satin mahogany. The wood appointments and sumptuous leather upholstery contribute to what Edmunds refers to as "Old-world British ambience." Touches like the classic chronograph-style dials on the instrument panel of the Jaguar S-Type and lack of excessive gadgetry impress Kelley Blue Book, which says, "The standard wood-lined interior is designed for luxury." In addition, since this is the last model year for this particular Jaguar, 2008 marks the only time to get one of the final 750 2008 Jaguar S-Type Rs with a specially equipped satin interior.

7

2008 Jaguar S-TYPE

Performance

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type when equipped with one of the larger engines is a capable performer, but it favors comfort over performance in any guise.

There are three engine options in the Jaguar S-Type lineup: one six-cylinder and two different V-8s. All S-Type Jaguars come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. For truly eye-opening power, the R model with its supercharged engine was the best, TheCarConnection.com found.

A version of the durable Ford Duratec 3.0-liter V-6 that powered the Ford Taurus 10 years ago can be found in the base Jaguar; 2008 versions massaged by Jaguar's engineers produce 235 horsepower and 216 pound-feet of torque. Although the S-Type's is more powerful than the Taurus version, Edmunds refers to it as a "low-quality Ford V6" that is perhaps unworthy of being in a high-end model like the 2008 Jaguar. They much prefer the 4.2-liter engine in both its naturally aspirated and supercharged versions, commenting favorably on the strong acceleration from both V-8s.

The Jaguar S-Type 4.2 has a naturally aspirated (neither supercharged nor turbocharged) 4.2-liter V-8 engine that produces a smooth 300 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. This engine was the favorite of Kelley Blue Book: "We drove the S-Type 4.2 V8 and found it a pleasant experience. The car accelerates at a brisk pace with almost no vibration." They find the driving characteristics of the engine well suited to the overall package, and while the R makes more power, the combination of luxury and performance in the 4.2 is a nice compromise.

Speed demons will be drawn to the Jaguar S-Type R, which Car and Driver defines as "Powerful in R guise." One stab of the throttle dumps 400 hp and 413 pound-feet of torque to the tarmac, rushing this classy four-door to 60 mph in a scant 5.3 seconds. The R's standard supercharger and variable valve timing adds another 100 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque to the 4.2-liter V-8 found in the Jaguar S-Type 4.2, resulting in a sportier feel more akin to the performance of a Mercedes E63 or a BMW M5. While the R isn't quite as fast as these German sedans, it is also thousands of dollars cheaper.

For 2008, Jaguar has made the same six-speed automatic transmission previously slated for the R model standard for all S-Types. Kelley Blue Book reports that the "3.0 and 4.2 models receive the S-Type R's ZF six-speed automatic transmission." This transmission responds to driver inputs very well, and Kelley Blue Book further characterizes it as "One of the best in the industry...shifting happens in smooth, effortless order, with no lunges or jerks." Car and Driver follows suit, regarding it as a "Crisp-shifting six-speed automatic."

With gas prices constantly on the rise, fuel economy is becoming something even luxury car buyers need to take into consideration. ConsumerGuide rates the fuel efficiency of the 3.0 and 4.2 models of the Jaguar S-Type above the class average. Another nice feature: These two engines are clean burning. MyRide.com states that the "V6 and the atmospheric V8 achieved ULEV emissions status." The EPA rating for the 3.0 is 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, and the 4.2 gets 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

High-performance engines like the S-Type R's naturally need more fuel, and although ConsumerGuide found this 2008 Jaguar model to be worse than average, it still returns a respectable 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. For a performance car with 400 hp, this is notable. Kelley Blue Book reports, "The S-Type R's engine is powerful enough to accelerate it from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds, yet efficient enough to escape the government's Gas-Guzzler fuel tax."

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type has a plush ride quality that Edmunds says "follows Jaguar tradition by emphasizing easy steering and an overall relaxed driving experience over serious sporting pretensions." Kelley Blue Book supports that characterization, describing the S-Type's emphasis as "smooth, solid comfort rather than sporting performance." Even the sportier R is not very tightly sprung. Most reviewers find the combination of the controlled but smooth ride and competent brakes favorable for this type of sedan. ConsumerGuide's simulated panic stop tests of the S-Type result in "short and stable" stops, and Kelley Blue Book describes the suspension as "soft enough to feel luxurious, but still lets through an adequate level of road feel." Car and Driver was less impressed with the ride, stating, "The S-Type is really showing its age in...driving dynamics."

5

2008 Jaguar S-TYPE

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type is well equipped, but cramped rear quarters and some cheap materials spoil the luxury experience for some.

While there are three stylish and capable variations of S-Type Jaguar for 2008, TheCarConnection.com found Jaguar has let this model fall behind the best in class in terms of comfort and quality.

Most people have nothing but praise for the Jaguar S-Type's front seats. Kelley Blue Book says, "Jaguar S-Type's handsome leather seats feature contrasting piping and feel comfortable enough to serve as furniture in your family room." Edmunds also praises the front passenger compartment, complementing the car for its "High comfort in front" but with the caveat of the "skimpy space in back." Rearward, the 2008 Jaguar S-Type gathers more complaints. Kelley Blue Book calls the S-Type's rear seat "quite snug, especially if the front-seat occupants have their seats adjusted for maximum legroom." Car and Driver simply describes the Jaguar S-Type as having "Tight rear-seat room" and much prefers its German rivals in the segment.

No 2008 Jaguar is a huge cargo hauler, and the S-Type is no exception. The storage space is a little small when compared to the best in class. ConsumerGuide describes the trunk as "usefully shaped but...not expansive." They go on to note that the "split folding rear seatbacks add versatility but are unavailable on the R," and say, "Small-item interior storage space is meager." Furthermore, MyRide.com notes that because of its "curvy rear end," the 2008 Jaguar's trunk space "is only average at 14.1 cubic feet."

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type shares its heritage with the old Lincoln LS, and while Ford parts don't look too out of place in a $30,000 to $40,000 Lincoln, some find fault with them in this 2008 Jaguar that lists between $48,335 and $64,335. Edmunds states, "Unfortunate splashes of Ford-grade controls and materials" and "some of the plastics and materials also suggest a lower caliber of car." Not everyone is bothered by the look of the controls, however. Kelley Blue Book writes, "We like the simplicity of the S-Type controls."

Luxury cars are supposed to be quiet. In most trim levels, the 2008 Jaguar S-Type doesn't disappoint in this regard. ConsumerGuide reports a "Muted, classy engine growl at full throttle."

8

2008 Jaguar S-TYPE

Safety

TheCarConnection.com believes the 2008 Jaguar S-Type is a reasonably safe car because of its good standard safety equipment and its acceptable crash-test data where available.

The S-Type Jaguar, like any model in the 2008 Jaguar range, maintains safety as a top priority.

The Jaguar S-Type received four to five stars on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rating for side impact protection, and five star rating for rollover resistance. The Jaguar S-Type has not been tested for frontal impact, but the structurally similar Lincoln LS fared well, receiving four to five stars. This will be the final year for this model Jaguar; 2008 marks the end of the S-Type. It is being replaced with the 2009 XF.

In addition to its strong body structure, there are loads of standard safety features on every Jaguar S-Type. According to Edmunds, "All 2008 Jaguar S-Types come standard with the six airbags now expected in most luxury sedans." The front airbags are new "depowered" versions as well, which have sensors to adjust the force of deployment depending on the weight of the occupant and the severity of the crash, resulting in an airbag system that is less likely to create injuries to smaller occupants. In addition, Edmunds lists other standard safety features, including four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, and traction control. Although no system can correct negligent driving or the laws of physics, this sophisticated technology engages to limit wheel spin at each corner due to poor traction or excessive throttle inputs and help the driver regain control.

Visibility is not an issue for the Jaguar S-Type; about the only thing that could be done to improve upon this is to address the "high dashboard," as ConsumerGuide mentions, or the stylishly low roof, but these stylistic elements by no means make this 2008 Jaguar any less safe.

9

2008 Jaguar S-TYPE

Features

The 2008 Jaguar S-Type has a lengthy list of standard features, with even more high-end fittings on the R version.

In its last year, the S-Type Jaguar comes in three varieties: the 3.0, the 4.2, and the R. All are well equipped, and most of the top options are available on the base 3.0 as well.

Even before you check an option box, you should know the Jaguar S-Type 3.0 includes the same top-of-the-line six-speed automatic transmission as the larger models, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and side mirrors, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, automatic headlamps, heated 16-way power driver's seat, and rain-sensing wipers. Edmunds says the standard S-Type has been "well-received for its supple leather."

Also standard equipment on the Jaguar 2008 4.2 and R models are xenon headlights and a sunshade. The latter is listed as one of Kelley Blue Book's favorite standard features on the 2008 Jaguar S-Type, leading them to note that "with a press of the button [it] lowers to block direct sunlight."

Although every 2008 Jaguar S-Type comes well equipped, more options are available. Purchasers of the 3.0 can buy the xenon headlights and front park control that come on the 4.2 and the R; 19-inch wheel upgrades are available for the Jaguar S-Type 3.0 and 4.2 as well. ForbesAutos praises the adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, which are optional in the 3.0 but standard on the 4.2 and R.

The 2008 Jaguar flagship of the S-Type is the high-performance R. Along with the improved supercharged engine, there are some R-specific options that Kelley Blue Book finds notable. New for 2008, a special two-tone interior and adaptive cruise control are offered by Jaguar for the R. The lithe Jaguar S-Type R is also available with a special suspension described by Edmunds as a "Sport-tuned suspension with Computer Active Suspension Technology (CATS) that automatically switches between two shock absorber settings to benefit both ride and handling." This option, which Kelley Blue Book characterizes as "worthy of praise," also includes bigger wheels.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 5.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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