Jaguar S-Type blast from past

Iain Dooley checks out Jaguar's pre-XF bid at conquering the executive saloon market – the S-Type.

Engines – Right from the start it was obvious that Jaguar was keen to promote the S-Type's refinement. With its modest range of silky-smooth petrol engines, the mid-size executive was a star performer. Sadly, it took quite a while before diesel power graced the range, but when it did the results were mightily impressive.

Exterior – Early cars were met with equal measures of praise and criticism from the critics. Although all the traditional Jaguar styling cues were present, some thought the company should be looking forward and not relying too heavily on past glories. No matter, as successive revision programmes gradually but subtly improved the S-Type's looks. The best advice is to buy the newest car you can afford.

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Interior – With its lashings of wood and leather, it would be difficult to imagine yourself anywhere else but a Jaguar. Build quality is good – better still on later cars – and both refinement and equipment levels are impressive.

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Driving – In the early days, the S-Type was pitched more as a luxurious cruiser than sporting saloon, but as time moved on the bias steadily shifted towards greater driver enjoyment. More recent cars exhibit a greater ability to entertain. Jaguar's trademark refinement and exemplary ride remain, though. That's even true for the S-Type R hot-rod flagship.

Ownership – A low-cost early petrol model is ideal for low-mileage driving – fuel consumption is unlikely to be a major issue. Road warriors should examine the fine diesel variants, although these newer, more desirable models often carry a price premium. For maximum thrills the 'R' model is impressive, although you'll need deep pockets to run one.

What to look for – Being a Jaguar of a certain vintage, there's every chance that previous owners have pampered your chosen example. The flipside is the neglect displayed by aspirational owners without the necessary funds to run a car properly – be wary of the latter. Damage should be minimal, including parking scars, and a comprehensive service record should exist. Everything should work and the car should be a paragon of refinement on the test-drive.

Model history – 1999, Jaguar launches all-new mid-size executive saloon, the S-Type, with six and eight-cylinder petrol engines. 2002 saw revised range boasting a subtle restyle inside and out, plus changes to engine and specification. 2004 saw the launch of new 2.7-litre V6 diesel variant plus further modest styling changes.

Reasons to buy – Later cars offer polished performance, refinement, engine range, diesel performance.

Reasons to beware – Viewed by some as a lesser Jaguar than the flagship XJ, modest cabin space, dynamic abilities of early cars.

Pick of the range – S-Type 3.0 S auto.

What to pay – 2005 05 �8,900; 2005 55 �9,250; 2006 06 �10,300; 2006 56 �10,750; 2007 56 �11,375. S howroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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