"I always feel like such a trophy wife whenever I drive a Jaguar." This comment came from a female staffer upon delivery of this Racing Green S-Type R. It's a very funny thing, but the Jag didn't make me feel like a trophy wife at all. While in the driver's seat it was all I could do to quell my surging testosterone and keep from standing on the accelerator every time I saw a light turn green.
Stoplight to stoplight the R feels as fast as almost anything else on the street. Jaguar claims 86% of the engine's torque is available from 2000 rpm to redline, so whether you're rolling out of a stop or doing 80 mph on the freeway, all you have to do is nudge the throttle for instant gratification. Posteriors are sucked snugly into leather-clad seats, and a feverish mechanical snarl issues from beneath the hood as though daring the driver to continue. It's quite an experience.
There are those who have alleged the S-Type's interior borrows too heavily from the Fords of yore. I didn't see it. The controls are well mapped and the quality of materials is top notch. The forward seats in particular are very nice, not only because they're quite comfortable but because they offer incredible support. There is no slipping and sliding going around quick turns. The only downside is in back. With two six-foot-plus individuals placed in the forward positions, knee space in the back seat becomes a premium.
The automatic transmission has a sport shift mode, but I didn't use it. Full auto works fine and lets you focus on enjoying the R's incredible acceleration without having to worry about what gear you're in or when to shift. The suspension is not overly firm and imparts a smooth, quiet ride at all speeds-you know, the type of comfortable ride you'd expect from a $60,000 luxury sedan. The brakes, massive Brembo discs (14.4-inch front, 13.0 rear) with signature aluminum calipers, are nearly as impressive as the car's acceleration. Pedal feel is quite firm and the binders bite really hard when you want them to.
It rained the entire week we had the car, and the deluge left our Southern California city streets slippery and puddle ridden-a potentially treacherous scenario with nearly 400 lb-ft of torque on tap. Driving necessitated judicious throttle use, but I still had a blast. If you find unmitigated power output and a smooth, luxurious ride appealing, chances are you will too. Don't buy one for your wife, though. Get one for yourself instead. -Karl Funke
2005 Jaguar S-Type RPrice as tested: $63,995
DrivetrainLongitudinal front engine, rear wheel drive
Engine4.2-liter V8, four overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, supercharged and intercooled
PerformancePeak Power: 390 bhp @ 6100 rpmPeak Torque: 399 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm0-60 mph: 5.3 secTop Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)Fuel Economy: 17 city/ 24 highway