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Jaguar XK & S-Type

2005 Jaguar XK & S-Type Reviews

Ann Job
The Jaguar S-Type and XK cars don't change much for 2005, and that's mostly a good thing. After all, the luxury cars are classy - and classic - style statements with distinctive looks that evoke Jaguar's heritage and make passengers feel special. I just wish a few niggling items were updated, too.

Jaguar XK & S-Type Exterior

Exteriors, interiors revised

The big news for both cars are the subtle updates to their exteriors, though it is likely casual observers won't really notice them because the overall styling remains unchanged. Jaguar said it reworked the S-Type sheet metal for a cleaner and more "contemporary" look, but I had to park the car next to an earlier model to see the minor difference.

Officials also tightened up the small gaps between the body panels for a higher quality appearance, which is something I appreciate but find is absorbed by shoppers on a somewhat subliminal level. In the back, the '05 S-Type has a higher trunk lid, new bumper and tail lamps. Trunk space is 14.1 cubic feet.

The XK models have revised front bumpers with lower air intake, deeper rear bumper and tailpipe finishers, new side sills, and, on the XKRs, a new, larger rear spoiler. Additionally, the top XKR coupe and convertible get a new mesh grille. The material surrounding the windows is black now, rather than the previous gray.

Again, it takes some real car-to-car comparison to note these changes, but consumers might notice that the new black surround makes the rear window look larger, even though it's not.

Jaguar Console

Inside, the S-Type has a new instrument panel that provides easier-to-understand displays. And for the first time, the S-Type will be offered with an aluminum interior trim, rather than wood. This trend toward putting a metal inside isn't just in keeping with today's car trends. In 1963, Jaguar's XKE featured real aluminum trim inside.

In 2005, for the first time, the S-Type is available with a new, VDP package. VDP stands for Vanden Plas, and the package includes softer-grain leather than in other S-Types, with contrast seat piping for a surefire British look. VDP also includes walnut veneer trim, and heated, power front seats.

Fine ride

I don't quibble with the ride of these two good-looking autos.
The mid-size S-Type can feel cushioned, yet responsive, on the road. Jaguar officials refer to it as "sporty but luxurious." The test car with the "comfort" suspension seemed to roll easily over road bumps and kept them from riders while still conveying something of the road texture to the driver. This resulted in a confident feel at the steering wheel, even when directing the car through busy curves on two-lane roads.

Note the hood is aluminum for '05, which shaves some 22 pounds off the car vis-à-vis last year's steel hood. The result: Better weight distribution and handling. With increased sound deadening under the hood - prompted by the addition of a European-only diesel engine being offered -- the ride inside the '05 S-Type is quite quiet.

The rear-drive S-Type uses Servotronic variable-ratio power steering that keeps the car tracking competently, and without tiring steering changes needed. The steering effort required is excellent - neither lightweight and feathery nor hard and muscular.

Front and suspensions use double wishbones, as well as stabilizer bars. Dynamic Stability Control, an electronic aid to help keep the car handling stably, and traction controlled are standard. The biggest suspension adjustment for '05 is that ball joints are updated for lower friction. And, the S-Type's optional sport suspension has higher-rate springs and revised dampers.

Best of all, the S-Type's size - not too big and not too small for a five-passenger sedan - makes it easy to maneuver in tight spots and in parking lots.

I didn't notice wind noise and heard just a bit of road noise. Seventeen- and 18-inch wheels and tires are available.

Meanwhile, the heavier and larger XK has a vigorous, yet luxurious ride. This 2+2-passenger coupe and convertible moves purposefully, yet tautly, through mountain twists with a poise that makes driving fun. Nothing has changed in the XK's suspension for 2005.

Engines remain the same

Engine selections for these two Jags are the same as for 2004. The S-Type in the U.S. is offered with three power plants. The most popular in sales is the 235-horsepower, 3-liter V6, which accounts for 66 percent of all S-Types. Second is the 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter AJ-V8, which is some 22 percent of sales. The top, 390-horsepower, supercharged, 4.2-liter AJ-V8 accounts for just 12 percent of S-Type sales and, while it provides an exhilarating ride, it's also the highest-priced model. Jaguar's new, 207-horsepower, common rail diesel V6 being sold in European S-Types is not slated to come to the U.S. at this time.

Indeed, for 2005, Jaguar officials decided to lower the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the top S-Type R with supercharged engine, by more than $4,000 - to approximately $59,000 - in order to better align it with its main competitor, the BWM 545i, which is priced in the mid-$50,000 range.

All S-Types have a six-speed automatic transmission, with extremely smooth shifts. In the V8 models, the shifts also are managed so power is palpable, yet eminently controlled.

Jaguar's XKs, however, retain their engine lineup of V8s.

The base XK coupe and convertible come with the 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 that's also offered in the S-Type, and the top XKR coupe and convertible come with the 390-horsepower, 4.2-liter, supercharged V8 that's also offered in the S-Type.

Don't fret that the XK weighs some 100 pounds more than a comparably equipped V8 S-Type. The 0-to-60-mile-an-hour numbers are nearly the same: Approximately 6.3 seconds and 5.3 seconds for the V8 and supercharged V8, respectively, in both models.

Jaguar J-Gate Shift

The XKs come only with a six-speed automatic transmission. But it continues, sadly, to be mated to a less-than-intuitive, J-gate shift lever in the center console.

Combined city/highway fuel economy for the XKs isn't great, with the best rating being 19.5 miles a gallon for the naturally aspirated V8.

Speeding problem?

People who worry about speeding might want to know about the new automatic speed limiter that's standard in all 2005 XKs.

A driver toggles the feature to turn it on, then uses the cruise control buttons to set the maximum speed he or she is comfortable with. When the speed is reached, the XK does not let the car go beyond that pre-set limit. A driver must turn the system off or use a kick down maneuver on the gas pedal in order to go at a faster speed.

I wish, however, that Jaguar officials would attend to some longstanding faults in the XK, which has been around now since 1996.

For one thing, short stature drivers - I'm 5 feet 4 - can't make good use of the XK's dead pedal area to brace left legs during energetic drives. The dead pedal is just too far forward. As a result, we slide around on the leather seats and don't have a real secure feeling as the car handles the twists of the road.

The inside door handles of the XK can pinch the sides of hands, and there is still no in-dashboard CD player for this $70,000-plus car. Passengers must load CDs into the CD changer located in the trunk.

Lastly, the luxury XK convertible continues to have a boot that has to be manually installed over the folded-down fabric top. Competitors have power-operated boots that don't require a driver to get out of the vehicle, and many even have hard tops, not fabric tops.

For More Information Click: Jaguar XK & S-Type
For the Jaguar 2005 Model Guide : Click Here