a line of cars awaiting a valet at a red-carpeted entrance.
Despite their heady prices, some can be hard to distinguish
without glancing at the identifying badge, front or rear.
Not so with the Brit-proud jungle cat, Jaguar, that in nearly
all modes seems instantly identifiable. Sinuous haunches,
scoop nose, supple skin that covers undulating crests that
"V" back vertically from rounded, chrome-rimmed
headlamps. Passion. Some Jag owners claim ownership of the
word in the "Where does car end and driver begin?"
there are Jaguars that skim the six-digit price range, especially
when loaded with all the goodies that are second nature
to such a premier class luxury sedan. But a nice surprise
for '05 is the mid-term update of the S-Type that brings
true opulence and the lunging feline hood crest to a broader
group of aficionados, at about half the outlay.
luxury got full attention in the S-Type's latest revision,
with more leather, wood veneer or available "technical"
(and classically Jaguar) aluminum trim inside. They complement
the cleaner-lined dash, subtly muted or two-toned interiors,
optional adjustable foot pedals and two message centers
to eliminate searching for information. Longer, stronger
exterior lines give a more assertive look. The lower, broader
grille -- now on an even plane with headlamps -- demands
respect, and raised rear fenders lend a sense of speed to
match the S-Type's swift zero to 60, and beyond, capability.
heart of S-Type's rear-drive performance is the now standard
super-smooth, six-speed ZF transmission that responds to
both road and driver inputs. (Say it properly "Zed
Eff," to win knowledgeable driver points.) Mated with
a tweaked suspension and 3.0-liter V-6 or 4.2-liter V-8
(plain or sport package supercharged), it improves low-end
grip true to its cat-heritage. All versions have available
has used an aluminum hood to shave weight, improve balance
and enhance performance. The Computer Active Technology
Suspension (CATS) means more supple, yet aggressive handling,
particularly on the ribbon curves of narrow cliff-hugging
roadways that seem to have been designed to show off this
cat's prowess. ("Poise" under pressure to use
Jaguar's descriptive word.)
features include brake assist, ultrasonic occupant sensing,
ultra-strengthened passenger cage and deformable fuel tank.
Loads of technologically advanced features would outpace
our space to list.
line: This is one "growler" with the instinct
to hunt down the competition.