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I took delivery of a new 4.0 litre S-Type in October 2000 as my company car. My version was fitted with headlamp powerwash, reversing park aid and the more sophisticated Premium Sound system with CD autochanger. The car is a dream to drive and has covered over 55,000 miles since I first slid into the drivers seat. The 0-60 time is sub 7 seconds which means most cars are left behind at the lights and the car is rock-solid at the (limited) max speed of 150mph which I attained with ludicrous ease at a track event. I have driven most Opels, BMWs and Mercs and agree with the motoring press when they state the BMW 5-series is slightly more poised dynamically, but the Jaguar has presence and style in spades. On holiday in France last summer on I became aware that other drivers and even pedestrians were rubbernecking as we went by and I can report that on one occasion a driver approaching in the opposite direction became so transfixed by the looks of the car that he ran slap into a queue of stationary traffic in front of him. And this is some three years after the model was launched in Europe! Niggles? Minor really - My biggest disappointment is the lack of V8 burble noise from the engine as the V8 is even more subdued in the S-Type as in the XJ8. Dont bother with the headlamp powerwash as it is a pointless option in this country, and do not bother with the Premium Sound system as it has features nobody would ever need (why would you want to make all your CDs sound as if they were played in Church? This is one of four preselectable sound effects available on the system...). Also there is a switchable feature which moves the wheel away from you at the same time as moving the drivers seat back. This is to allow large American customers to get out of the car more easily and is thus known in this family as the "fat bastard option". In my opinion (and I'm 17 stone) this is a useless feature and should be dropped from the model line.
Technically the cars only dynamic flaw is the gearbox which is a five speed Ford USA unit. In the 3-litre model this has caused Jaguar a number of teething troubles with the control ECU and gearchanges can sometimes be inappropriate. In the 4.0 V8 this is nowhere nearly as noticeable and the only slight annoyance is that on kickdown the box can change down too many gears instead of relying on the huge torque. But then - Cindy Crawford has a spot on her face doesn't she? The reverse park control is worth a special mention as it is a "must have" option on all Jags and very accurate, positioning the car within 3 ins of an obstacle before the beeps turn to a continuous tone. Expect fuel consumption in the 20-24 mpg range if you use the power a lot and hang on to manual changes with the J-gate gearbox control. On motorways and gentle cruising at realistic speeds of 80-90 mph you will get 25-27 mpg, and at 70 mph you will nudge 30 mpg. Front tyres last about 28,000 miles (over 30,000 if you are lucky) but rears can be shot after 22,000. Overall impression? I am so impressed with the car that I have bought it from the company and will run it until Oct 2004 after which I'll get the new 4.2 litre model, which has a number of really key improvements and useful oprtions - like Xenon headlamps.