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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The engines are smooth, the ride is comfortable, and it's good value for money

Against Headroom is a bit tight in the rear, and it's not as sharp to drive as a BMW 5 Series

Verdict It's not quite a BMW-beater, but it’s a refined alternative that's worth considering

Go for… 2.7 D V6 SE

Avoid… 4.2 V8 R

Jaguar S-type Saloon
  • 1. The centre of the dashboard contains an almost bewildering array of buttons
  • 2. Go for later cars - early models suffered from ignition coil failures, premature engine wear and electrical problems caused by water leaks
  • 3. High-mileage cars should be avoided, while mid-mileage examples should be given a very thorough examination
  • 4. Tall back seat passengers will find their heads brushing the roof
  • 5. The luggage space is long and shallow, and getting stuff in and out isn't easy
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Jaguar S-type Saloon full review with expert trade views

When the S-type arrived in 1999, it looked like it had just driven off the set of The Sweeney. Most models had even a classic wood and leather interior to match, but underneath the car was every bit as modern as its German rivals.

While the S-type may not have the ultimate poise of the BMW 5 Series, its handling is still very good, thanks to an agile chassis and precise, accurate steering. Optional CATS suspension sharpens up the responses further, and every model performs well, with not a duff engine in the range.

Electrically adjustable pedals are an option on later models, but even without them, getting a good driving position is easy. However, the centre of the dashboard contains an almost bewildering array of buttons, and tall back seat passengers will find their heads brushing the roof. There could be more stowage in the cabin, too, and the boot opening would be better if it was wider.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Some models like 3.0 SE easy to sell, 4.0 much harder work

James Ruppert
Used car guru

First-generation cars were fitted with a 240bhp 3.0-litre Ford V6 or a 4.0-litre 280bhp Jaguar V8. The V8 came as an automatic only, but V6s also had the choice of a manual gearbox.

The high-performance R model arrived in January 2002 with a new 400bhp supercharged V8. At the same time a smaller, but more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre 200bhp V6 was also introduced, while the V8 became a 300bhp 4.2-litre.

However, all these petrol engines soon became irrelevant ancient history when, in 2004, Jaguar gave the S-type a major facelift - and made a much better car in the process. There was a nod to the larger all-aluminium XJ, s Jaguar fitted the S-type with an aluminium bonnet, but it was the new diesel engine under that bonnet that really impressed.

The Peugeot-Citroen-Ford-developed 2.7-litre, 24-valve, twin-turbo diesel is our choice. With its 206bhp and 320lbft of pulling power, this unit has the refinement and the performance to wean anyone off petrol power. In mid-model SE spec, it provides all the kit you need.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

German rivals hold their value better than the Jag. So a good used S-type gives you a lot of executive car for your money. However it’s not the case if you want the diesel, which looks set to stubbornly hang on to its value, and remains quite dear.

That said, the diesel is attractive in many ways. For a start, with an official 41.5mpg, the diesel is almost twice as efficient as the 24.5mpg 300bhp V8 and the 22.7mpg R. And, with just a group 14 rating, it's the cheapest model in the range to insure.

To cap it all, its 15,000-mile service intervals mean it needs to see the inside of a dealership less often than it’s 10,000-mile rated petrol counterparts.

Sadly, the bill won’t be cheap when the time does come around. Jaguar hourly rates are about the most expensive in the whole market, so unless the car is still under warranty, find a good specialist instead.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Some models like 3.0 SE easy to sell, 4.0 much harder work

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Face-lifted cars were introduced in 2004 and are better and more reliable than first-generation machines. There is also a variance within the pre-face-lift range. Early cars suffered from ignition coil failures, premature engine wear and electrical problems brought on by water leaks.

A visit to the Vehicle and Operator Safety Agency website at www.vosa.gov.uk reveals a fairly substantial list of recalls you chould check for. Although some, like the risk of the speed restriction label peeling off the spare wheel, are not so serious, others highlight more potentially dangerous faults. These include seat belt buckle concerns, front suspension ball-joint failure and the risk that the automatic gearbox may engage reverse when in forward drive.

High-mileage S-type Rs may look a cheap way to uncap serious performance, but they are best given a wide berth, while mid-mileage examples should be given a very thorough examination.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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