Driving the S-Type cars is satisfying. It imparts a feeling of class and sophistication to passengers.
The S-Type comes with a great transmission, perhaps the best available. The six-speed automatic ZF is the same transmission used in the new BMW 7 Series. This transmission is extremely responsive and silky smooth. With more gears to choose from, it offers excellent drivability around town. It delivers both better performance and improved fuel economy. A Sport mode allows the driver to shift manually. Select this mode and the transmission will not shift above the highest gear selected, though as needed it will shift down and back up below this gear. The transmission has two overdrive ratios. Sport mode stays in fifth unless the driver maintains a steady state for 30 seconds. But most of the time we preferred to simply leave it in Drive and let it do its thing, as it does it so well. It's a smart transmission: lift off the throttle for a corner and it senses the steering angle and holds it in gear. It also holds a gear on hills, eliminating hunting between gears.
The 3.0-liter V6 engine is smooth and delivers plenty of power for most drivers. We found it offers good power for passing. Floor it at 50 mph in fifth gear and in a heartbeat the six-speed automatic smoothly downshifted to second gear at 5500 rpm, surging without lurching. Jaguar says the S-Type 3.0 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The V6 was smooth and civilized when cruising, and noise from the engine was isolated. Under hard acceleration, however, the sound it made reminded us that it's a Ford Duratec V6.
The 2005 S-Type 3.0-liter we drove did not have the Sport package with its firmer suspension, but we still found the cornering to be exceptional. It felt a little squishy when driven hard on a winding road, but cornering was relatively flat (the car didn't lean a lot), and grip was very good. Add in the Dynamic Stability Control, and it's hard to get into trouble.
The S-Type rides smoothly and is nicely damped. Jaguar revised the suspension for 2005 to make the ride a bit smoother, but it's still tuned more for handling than a soft ride. Driving through the Texas hill country outside Austin, I found it still jiggles a bit from side to side on bumpy rural roads, a little more than I would have liked. And you can hear the hiss of the tires. When asked about this, a spokesman said Jaguar does not build Buicks.
The 4.2-liter V8 engine delivers truly spirited performance with strong low-rpm torque for quicker acceleration. Jaguar says the S-Type 4.2 can accelerate form 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is quite quick. The 4.2 feels relaxed and responsive around town and cruising on the highway, but delivers spirited performance when driving quickly on back roads. The 4.2 V8 generates 86 percent of its maximum torque at just 1500 rpm for greater flexibility around town. This a very strong car by any measure.
The 4.2 offers a firm ride. There is some road vibration on badly rippled roads, but it smoothes out on smoother roads. The 4.2 is quiet, with some wind noise at high speeds. It's stable at high speeds with precise, linear steering that makes the driver feel part of the car. Handling is firm without being too harsh. Jaguar's S-Type is not as stiff as the BMW 5 Series. It is the type of car that inspires confidence for those who enjoy driving without being a chore for those who do not. It felt wonderful when driving hard on narrow, winding roads. In short, it's a wonderful automobile, very pleasant.
The S-Type R offers fantastic acceleration performance. Jaguar says it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph. We could clearly hear the whine from supercharger when hard on the gas. Hot rodders love it, but we wonder whether it would become tiresome. Superchargers deliver better low-end torque and more linear response than turbochargers an