2003 Jaguar S-Type SE 3.0 from UK and Ireland


Fantastic car - just make sure it's faultless when purchased


4 distorted tyres.

Warped front discs.

The above issues were experienced straight off the forecourt.

General Comments:

The kit level of the car in relation to the price was outstanding. My car was the SE model with a few added extras. The car had, full leather and birds eye maple trim, sat nav, climate control, electric folding mirrors, auto head lamps, premium sound package (outstanding!) with multi-changer, electric dual memory seats, electric windows all round, cruise control and trip computer. I bought from a main dealer for £15,500 at a pop over 5 years old.

The first thing you notice when driving the S-Type (both 2.5 and 3.0) is the nicely tuned growl from the V6 up front. It's hushed just to the right level.

The 6 speed auto is smooth, never had any issues with the car 'dropping down' too early, or hunting for gears.

Fuel usage isn't too bad for a heavy 3.0 V6 (with auto). On long trips sat at around 75mph I managed a return of around 31mpg. Town driving between 22-28 and with a heavy foot 20.

General comfort was fantastic. Controls easy to use and reach. Even the "screen based" sat nav, stereo and heating controls were easy... and I'm not good with technology.

My experience of the dealer was poor. The issues with the car (highlighted above) were experienced from purchase. The car was returned to the dealer on the Monday after purchase on Friday due to 'distorted tyres'. These had apparently been checked as part of the pre-delivery inspection. After 3 months of battling I only managed to obtain 50% of the value of the tyres I had to get fitted, but I had to meet the dealer principal to obtain this.

Also had issues with brakes binding which started during the first day of motoring. I was first advised there was nothing wrong, but a full cleaning service was given to remove any dust/grease. Second visit I was advised they were clogged with carbon dust (figure). Third visit I was advised they were warped, but serviceable, and finally replaced FOC on the fourth visit as I dealt directly with the service manager. Final conclusion was they were "lipped" around the edge of the disc and catching on the pads.

In summary a lovely, lovely car. Reliability generally good (as I inherited my problems), running costs not too bad (even servicing wasn't too scary at £250). Sold the car after being felt let down by after sales team.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st August, 2007

2003 Jaguar S-Type 4.2 V8 from North America


A superb blend of sheer luxury and refined sport handling


I had to have the 6 speed transmission serviced for a software upgrade. This was free recall by Jaguar and has solved any of the "hard-shifting" issues with the vehicle.

General Comments:

I had always loved the looks of the S-Type since it's introduction. I knew that some of the earlier V6 models had some mechanical issues.

With the major redesign that occurred in 2003, I figured it was time to take the plunge. And am I glad I did! The car is a sumptuous blend of European elegance and wonderfully sporty driving. It has surpassed my expectations.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th October, 2004

2003 Jaguar S-Type R 4.2 supercharged V8 from North America


A "dial-a-speed" Jaguar, it will quite literally go as fast as you want


For the first six months that I owned this car, the most irritating feature was the second to first downshift. accelerating from (for example) a rolling stop in second would convince the gearbox that it had to downshift... NOW! With a predictably large THUNK as the torque of the V8 mashed the cogs together. There was no need for this kind of behaviour, the engine has more than enough torque to pull away in second.

I complained regularly about this to the dealer, as it was enough to put me off the car completely. Driving through town from light to light was an exercise in caution as I accelerated away. The problem was unpredictable and made my skin crawl at the way it tortured the gearbox.

Then after six months the dealer came up with a new shift pattern program for the gearbox. The problem went away and has hardly been seen since. Very occasionally after a high speed run, up to a light the THUNK will return, but it has only happened a handful of times since the reprogramming.

If you have an S-Type R, RUN, don't walk to your dealership, and make sure that you get this done. It transforms the car and I have been as happy as a clam ever since.

Mechanically I have had very few other problems with the car. But here are a few:

Sometimes the door locks get "confused" and will not open and close from the master unlock/lock switch on the center console (by the way, why is it there Jaguar? Every car with any sense at all puts that switch on the driver's door).

When it is cold outside (a few degrees below freezing) and I fill the tank with gas, this can cause the fuel computer to go on the blink, the gauge reads zero and the LED computer gives an error... until mysteriously it comes right back up again. It always comes back after a few minutes, so this is simply an electronic quirk and easily lived with.

General Comments:

This car is seriously fast, with nearly 400 hp on tap (even allowing for a little Jaguar overstatement). It is also relatively compact, quite heavy, and extremely torquey at low rpm. All this is combined with the famous Jaguar "hush", it is very quiet inside the cabin, which makes for an interesting combination of sensations.

The weight and the relative quiet means that you can "squirt" from 70 to 120 mph with no effort or fuss whatsoever. You really need the speedo to know how fast you are going. The engine has a deep note through the big twin pipes, and the supercharger gives only a subdued whine that can be completely overlooked by the "normally aspirated" Jaguar fans who might be vaguely discomfited by the tradition-breaking belt-driven pressurization. I live at nearly 6000 feet in the Rocky Mountains and I will take all the boost that they can give me. The power curve is relatively flat and the engine doesn't even appear to be working at all until over 4000 rpm, at which point you have probably left double digit speeds well behind. The mapping of the engine control computers almost never lets you wind the engine up above 4500 rpm.

The six speed automatic box is immensely over-geared, which means that 85 mph shows at 2100 rpm in sixth, and in the same gear you can peg the speedometer at 160 mph at a shade over 4000 rpm. I don't know how fast this car is because the speedo really needs an extra 30 mph on the dial. If this car is really limited to 155 mph electronically as is rumoured, then mine has either been turned off... and I wasn't the one that did it... or the speedo is fibbing by a lot.

For the faint of heart in these politically correct times, this particular speed experiment was carried out on a dead straight, flat, 8 mile stretch of Wyoming asphalt that was occupied only by two living things. Myself, and a lonely looking antelope way off in the distance. Not exactly a "private race track" but very close. In addition the brakes are sensational and really inspire confidence, I think that they are 12 or 13 inch Brembo disks all round, and they pull the car to a halt with real authority.

The greatest feature of this car... there is virtually no "gas-guzzler" penalty for all that power. At a steady average cruise of 85+ mph, you will get anywhere from 23 to 26 mpg (and that "g" is the "short" US gallon). The car is thirsty around town when average speeds dip to 20 mph and below and it will give you only 14 mpg (but my 1993 3.2 V6 Taurus SHO did almost exactly the same mileage in town), but at high speed it is a marvel of efficiency. This is almost entirely due to the 6 speed ZF gearbox which allows the engine to run at phenomenally low rpm with the supercharger delivering minimum boost. This combination at times can be a little surreal as many of the usual laws of physics can appear to have been momentarily suspended. To get a feeling for what I am talking about all you have to do is find a "steep" hill and accelerate straight up it.

The electronically controlled "anti-slip" feature can be a necessity as it does not pay to accelerate while turning even moderately hard. I have done this just once (once is enough), and the electronic DCS system stopped me from pulling a completely unintentional rubber burning doughnut in the middle of an intersection. The power is best applied in a straight line, or in a smooth curve. Don't try and pull a U-turn with gas. The computers will save your hide, but if you are smart, you will learn to feather the accelerator gently while manoeuvring.

The handling matches the rest of the car. It is capable and has never given me any cause for concern. You can drive your aged aunt around town and she comments on how quiet and smooth the ride is. Drop her off and throw it into the turns with some verve and the computer controlled suspension flawlessly adapts.

One disappointment with this engine? Open the hood and there is almost nothing to be seen. Due to all the heat channelling shrouding and plastic trim, it is as black under the hood as a Mercedes engine bay. Somewhere in there is a supercharger and twin water/air intercoolers, but only the very tip of the supercharger belt pulley sticks out coyly from underneath the covers.

This car has been well designed by Jaguar, and for the mission it was engineered for, it is almost perfect. In my opinion Ford has done a great job with Jag, as the partnership has been an evolutionary one... the resulting hybrid has turned out far-stronger than the original thoroughbred. Some people think that the "R" supercharged version is too much four-wheeled testosterone, and that the regular 4.2 V8 is enough. I have owned and driven both, and they are wrong. Around town the R needs to be treated with respect, but that's as true with a 454 powered pick-up truck as it is with the Jaguar. It is on the open highway that this car really shines, and that's where the supercharger comes into it's own.

It is a looker with a retro flavour, if you are old enough to remember the old Mk II's, and the styling always draws comments. But at the same time it is low-key. It slips in almost unnoticed amongst the gold trimmed Lexus'es. But even people who are not car buffs recognise it immediately as a Jaguar. That is not something that the Infinity/Lexus/Acu-whatever crowd can necessarily boast.

In conclusion, the performance, both accelerating and braking, is completely out of proportion to the looks. For someone who really likes driving, this is an ideal combination that takes the best advantage of our beautifully engineered, but heavily policed and speed limited public highways.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th April, 2004

8th Jul 2004, 04:27

Although an expensive car shouldn't clunk like that, it isn't as bad for the transmission as it sounds. When you get a rough shift (down or up) it means the clutches (autos do have clutches) didn't engage for very long. Thus with rough shifts, you get longer clutch life (bad clutches in an auto basically means an overhaul) Rough shifts are also usually quicker. However for an expensive car, the shifts should be smooth AND quick. Clutch life also shouldn't be a problem.

2003 Jaguar S-Type R 4.2 supercharged V8 from North America


A high performance luxury car


Low profile tires wear very quickly.

Steering column has had to be replaced for an unknown noise.

Rear cup-holder broke even though it was never used.

"Check Engine" light illuminates for no reason.

General Comments:

This is a very exciting car.

The supercharger makes a great sound when you put the pedal to the floor.

A zero to sixty time of 5.0 seconds.

Beautiful looks that everyone looks at as you pass them.

However the car can put a dent in your pocket when it is fully loaded at $78,000.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th November, 2003