Jaguar S-Type R

Mark Gillies
Full Front Grill View

The R has a Brembo brake package featuring 14.3-inch-diameter vented front discs, 12.9-inch solid rear rotors, and four-pot aluminum calipers. The power steering has been revised, while the suspension features stiffer bushings and retuned springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars. The R uses Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), which incorporates electronic control of two-stage adaptive dampers. Surprisingly, the R uses an open differential, because Jaguar engineers feel that most owners will be saved from wheelspin by the stability system. Finally, the natty wheels are shod with meaty 245/40 front and 275/35 rear tires.

On the roads of sunny southern Spain, the S-type R was a fine ride. The powertrain and suspension refinement are so good that you generally need to look at the speedometer to gauge your (often extreme) speed. It also rides really well: firm but not harsh, with surprising suppleness over broken pavement. Mid-corner bump absorption is excellent, too. Drive it as if it's a regular car, and you will hardly hear the engine and barely notice upshifts from the brilliant new automatic. Indeed, the only engine note is a strident supercharger whine, which becomes a bit annoying after the novelty wears off.

The R is speed-limited to 155 mph, and Jaguar claims it will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, but its midrange performance is the most impressive feature. Bury your right foot, hear the supercharger kick in, feel the transmission downshift a couple of gears, and you can overtake with aplomb. Along Catalunya rally stages that would have been better suited to a Subaru Impreza WRX, I used the J-gate to stir the transmission between third and fourth gears, relying on torrents of torque to go very swiftly from one corner to another.

Driver Side Rear View

One of the S-type R's best features--something that definitely hasn't been stellar on Jaguars through the years, except on the original E-type--is the steering. There's more weight and feel than we're used to with a Jag, which allows you to take advantage of the nicely balanced chassis. Grip, as you might imagine from the width of the tires, is strong. The S-type R doesn't have the ultimate body control or connectedness of an M5 (and it will spin its inside rear wheel at will through second-gear corners), but the trade-off is a more refined highway ride than the BMW provides. The brakes are impressive, too, scrubbing off speed mightily with rewarding feedback.

Without a doubt, the R is a potent cross-country weapon, whether you're contemplating freeways or byways. An M5 is the more complete car for the enthusiast, but the Jaguar is extremely close. It also has a more inviting, less clinical cabin than the German car and is different enough to appeal to someone who wants lots of performance with a great deal of refinement and drivability. And to someone who wants an automatic transmission as well.

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