Jaguar S-Type-R

I want an XFR. I really want an XFR-S. And, as an earlier post suggests, I’d also go for the new XJR, not because it looks better, which I am in two minds about, but because it can better accommodate the family. Just.

Of course trumping all these would be the new F-Type-R, or the FTR as some would have it. But for that I would have to choose only one in the brood to accompany me, and that sounds like a recipe for much shouting and gnashing of teeth.

By now no doubt you’ve noticed the common thread. I seem to have a fetish with the modern Jaguar range. Is it because of my English heritage? Am I a sucker for punishment? Are they just over-priced gadgets that ultimately spend more time leaking on your garage floor? Do they break down as soon as you look at them once the warranty expires?

Jaguar S Type R

There was a time when all the above was true, particularly during the 1970’s and early 80’s. You needed your wits about you to avoid an example made on a Friday for instance, much like a Dagenham Dustbin (a name given to a Ford built from that Essex town on the last day of the working week).

But things have improved since then. The current crop from Coventry can only be said to possess rude health with only the spectre of depreciation hanging around their collective neck. Unfortunately for me, they are not depreciating quickly enough, propped up as their prices are by Australia’s luxury car tax and all the pricey Euro brands ripping us off over foreign exchange (see my blog from last year).

So what to do? Where can I get my Jaguar fix at a reasonable price? The X-type doesn’t really do it for me, especially since I can get a Mondeo for a much better price and it’s essentially the same car. The XK is wonderful but impractical. The XJ X300 and X350 are fantastic, but I don’t think I am ready for one of those yet. So I am left with the S-Type and its contrived styling nod to the old mark 2.

I used to like it but as time wore on, I found it aged badly. However, out of all this uncertainty someone decided to do what Jaguar used to do best. They focused on driver enjoyment. They increased the power output with an all new 4.2 supercharged V8 engine, replacing the old and more troublesome 4.0 litre jobby. They added more weight and feel to the steering and attached a new 6-speed ZF gearbox that transformed the car into a true M5 challenger. They beefed up the styling making what was once rather an effeminate shape that, from the rear, looked as though its pants were falling down, into something far sportier. Its stubby derriere now shouted testosterone and aggression. They built the S-Type-R.

My only issue with it at the time was that Jag dumped the manual clutch option entirely but those who drove it, seemed to forgive this indiscretion. Its ride and stopping ability coupled to its rear wheel driven playfulness made up for it. Quite simply it was the best car Jaguar had made for a long time.

jaguar s type r in black

Initially offered for sale in 2002, the car had a make-over in 2004 and this seemed to improve the car’s little nagging problems, mostly electrical. Generally considered to be robust and durable, certainly from 2004 and when compared to earlier model Jags, it seems to me that the boys who were planning the XF and what we see on sale today, had a large hand in its production.

Though it was no slouch, hitting 100km/h in 5.3 seconds, it wasn’t as quick as an M5 and, arguably, neither was it as focused. But, where as the M5 would rattle your teeth over anything other than smooth tarmac, the Jag had the ability, through its active suspension, to waft you around at cruising speeds and then hunker down when you really felt the urge. And when you did, you’d be treated to 80% of its 553Nm of torque from a mere 1500rpm. At 3,500rpm you’d be pushed hard into the seat as the supercharger took hold and the cabin was bathed in its distinctive whine. Some loved the noise, others less so, but with 400bhp (281kW) on tap you’d be hearing it quite often. But that is part of its character and you don’t buy a Jag if you don’t want character.

Over 15 months the S-type R proved to be a terrific all-rounder. The about-town stuff and the long-distance hauls it would take in its stride. The seats were superb, the ride taut but never crashy, refinement high. It was a heavy car (1800kg) and it felt it, too, so even with 400bhp you had to really prod the engine to make it fly. But fly it did, and few things on the road were quicker. I thought I might tire of the slightly whiny supercharger, but I didn’t mind it at all; and I came to love the wonderful V8 woofle … – Peter Tomalin evo Magazine

You also got exclusivity. Far fewer were bought compared to an M5, maybe for fear it would breakdown. Except they didn’t, well perhaps a few of the earlier models, but the facelifted versions from 2004 are awash with praise from the forums and, ultimately, a realisation of expectation, which is what it is all about, I guess.

jaguar s-type-r interior

Today, you can pick up a 2002 model from as little as $24,000 but that would come with over 150,000kms, and almost certainly expensive wear and tear. But double that and you can get a 2005 model with just over 50,000kms on the clock. Originally priced at around $169,000, that is a hefty reduction and you can probably knock off another $5k or so by using the research on this site.

As ever, make sure it has a full service history. Ask about any transmission issues, especially any lurching (see Research by clicking the link below for more information). Its ZF gearbox, though excellent, had been prone to electrical problems when new, but these would have been diagnosed and rectified by now. This was not solely a Jag issue either. BMW had problems with the gearbox and it seems that it was simply a software glitch.

Every forum I have read urges all owners to find a trusted repair and service centre. Not every mechanic understands these cars and it is definitely worth joining forums and asking the question of its readers. Dealers have been known to be less than accommodating, so a specialist can often be the way forward, especially for cars getting on in age.

Find a good one, and you may never look back. It is old school Jaguar but in a good way, and I think evo’s Mr. Tomalin says it best about his long termer;

Just because it’s taken Jaguar bosses 30 years to realise that people still like priapic sports cars, don’t take it out on the S-type R. It’s not just a very good car, but a very good Jaguar.

For more research and a list of useful forums, go to http://wp.me/p3rCxt-ho

jaguar s type r
By: Jaguar MENA