Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Jaguar S-Type
Degrees of separation
February 2005

THE phone call from a man with a heavy European accent went something like this....

"Mr Corbet, could you bring the Jaguar back early, we have a special dignitary that needs to use the car."

I replied: "Who is it?" (like it mattered).

"Sheree Blarr." (Again the accent)

It took a few moments: "Do you mean the British Prime Minister`s wife Cherie Blair?"

"Yes, this is it."

And with that, the recently revamped Jaguar S-Type I was driving suddenly had a higher cause.

Mrs Blair has been in Oz on a speaking tour on behalf of the Children`s Cancer Institute and if you saw the news footage of her cruising around Brisbane in a Jag - that was my Jag.

Talk about degrees of separation - it`s probably like this. I know the bloke who handed the keys to the security personnel to scope the car, who handed the keys to her driver, who opened the door for her to get into the car.

Mrs Blair`s Down Under trip has been controversial to say the least. She forgot which country she was in while in Kiwiland and she has been widely criticised for being "boring" during her keynote addresses.

Perhaps she`s was down in the dumps because she never gets to drive? After all, one should not drive if one`s hubby runs a nation. Perhaps one should have taken this time to inject some life into her speech notes.

Anyway, the S-Type is far from boring.

Take one look at the fine lines of this beast and it is somehow even prettier than the rest of its siblings. How Jaguar continues to reinvent and tweak and improve is mind-boggling.

Released mid last year, the S-Type also comes with more refined and improved interior including a redesigned instrument cluster and a wider range of colors and trims.

Under the bonnet there are a choice of 2.5 and 3.0 litre V6s and a naturally-aspirated or supercharged 4.2 V8, so there`s something for just about all tastes.

The Jaguar that ferried Mrs Blair around BrisVegas was a 4.2 naturally-breathing V8, and boy does it go.

The strange part is that it is such a lovely piece of machinery and I was so ensconced in the luxury of it all that it took me about three days before I even put my foot to the floorboards. Rest assured I did it regularly from then on.

I bet Mrs Blair`s driver did too when she wasn`t around.

By the way, the bonnet is now aluminium rather than steel, which Jaguar says helps the balance of the vehicle as well as losing a few kilos.

On that note, after getting a new front suspension and major upgrades to the rear in 2002, the latest model has had yet more tweaks including low friction ball joints and re-tuned dampers.

Sports suspension with uprated springs and dampers is available as an option, as are 18-inch alloy wheels on all versions.

The S-TYPE introduced the Electronic Parking Brake an industry first in the executive segment and that is now standard across all of the new S-TYPE range. Jaguar`s acclaimed Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), with electronically adjustable dampers for maximum control and comfort, is standard on the R model and optional on others.

From Electronic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control to Jaguar`s innovative Adaptive Restraint Technology System (A.R.T.S.) the S-Type comes with safety features galore.

As usual, another beautifully turned-out piece of automotive genius from Jaguar. And one that is far from as boring as some of the people it has in it. (I mean me, Mrs Blair).



ENGINE: 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8

POWER: 224kW at 6000rpm

TORQUE: 420Nm at 4100rpm

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed J-Gate automatic


ACCELERATION: 0-100km/h 6.5s

FUEL ECONOMY: 8.2l/100km highway; 17.1l/100km city

PROS: Looks; refined performance; luxury plus

CONS: Price is limited to top end clientele - like Prime Ministers` wives

BOTTOM LINE: $124,900