Jaguar S Type

Jaguar have gone from success to success in the last few years, the True Brit car maker blossoming under the influence and ownership of Ford USA rather than being stifled as many had predicted. Their independence assured within the world’s second largest car maker Ford dollars has enabled Jaguar to invest heavily in new cars, new engines and gearboxes and new platforms all things hugely expensive for an independent to develop, an all new engine might cost in excess of a £50 million to create and the straight sixes that were the mainstay of Jaguar for years all dated back to the 1940’s.

Nothing captures this wonderful renaissance better than the all new S Type Jaguar launched at the recent Motor Show, the first all new Jaguar for many years, a new size and aimed at a new market sector yet with many design cues from it’s heritage, particularly the S Type of the early 1960s. Smaller than the current XK models the new S type was launched with a huge fanfare in Birmingham and is a very important car for Jaguar’s future. The Show was the first sight anyone had of the new car, there had been no advance photos, not even the usual spy shots and there were some gasps from  the huge crowd for the S Type is very different looking to the current Jaguar line up but perhaps showing a corporate design trend for the future.

Jaguar Chairman Nick Scheele stressed that the S Type is vital to Jaguar’s future, he expects it’s broader appeal and lower price tag to bump sales from about 50, 000 to 90, 000 with a similar increase when the new baby Jag - X400 - appears late in 1999. Designed to both grow the executive car market and to grab sales from current market leaders BMW and Audi the price tag - at around £24, 000 - makes Jaguar ownership more affordable than ever.

Interviewing Nick Scheele at the Motor Show he gave thought to the different buyers the new S Type might attract “ we feel younger buyers and more women will be interested but also current Jaguar owners nearing retirement and considering a smaller car will find the S Type fits their needs. Our main group of new buyers might well be those moving into the executive market for the first time who want to compare what we can offer with, say, BMW.”

But, for all the glitz surrounding the new baby, the existing cars have not been ignored,   the V8 series saloons and XK sports cars all of which have been hugely successful in the last few years, all get many improvements for the 1999 model year, particularly in the areas of handling and engine and ride refinement.

First seen on the awesome supercharged XKR Coupe the new Servotronic power steering system now comes to all of the XJ and XK range of saloons and sports cars and provides better “feel” and response. The 3.2 or 4 litre AJ V8 engines have better performance from revised injection systems and new variable cam system improves driveability at all speeds as does a revised engine management system. The famed ZF automatic gearboxes have revamped ratios to maximise the engine improvements. Some XJ models get the bigger brakes from the supercharged XJ saloon and XK sports and sports suspension is now an option on most XJ models with some pretty alloy wheels included. 

In the luxurious cabins there are dashboard changes for greater clarity, a hands free phone can now be built in and there are improvements to the seat adjustments. Externally a range of new colours completes the changes for the 1999 model year.

The Jaguar XJ range starts at £35,205 for the Sport 3.2 and the XK Coupe and Convertibles begin at £50,655.

First Published 1998 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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