2007 Jaguar S-Type R 4.2 V8 supercharged from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Sports car handling, rocket power, comfortable, and can be reliable

Faults:

Catalyst failure.

General Comments:

This is my second S-Type R. You’ll find my other review nearby.

The comfort of the car is amazing, even with the 19” wheels, which makes the ride relatively crashy compared with the normal 18s. This is an R model, so you could forgive a hard ride, but it’s only noticeable on potholed roads.

CATS suspension is interesting. The car doesn’t seem to roll, but I never feel any transition between the two modes.

Steering is very light at low speeds, but retains masses of feel. Roll over some rough road surface and the steering wheel lets you know which side it's on.

This car lacks pedal adjustment and I initially found the pedals to be too far away, but have gotten use to it. I think I’d been adjusting the old STR to match the position of my other non-Jaguar car. Seats are electric-everything, and while a little firm, are a nice place to sit.

The touchscreen in this car is much more responsive than the previous STR. It’s no iPad, but it’s not as frustrating as it could be. Navigation is okay and climate control is good. This car has the rare Jaguar Bluetooth module and it pairs with my iPhone and works fine - though a little fiddly to set up as you need to type in codes. I find the radio controls archaic and badly labelled.

The gearbox is pretty good, but to drive it well you need to adapt to it. Knowing when to use S-mode, for example. In normal mode, the box will try its hardest to keep the revs low unless you hit the kick down - this gives a bit of a nothing-nothing-everything situation.

The S-mode will jump down the gears rapidly, and it's in this mode that you know you have 400HP available. The throttle response feels far sharper, but this I think is because the gearbox is keeping the engine revs in the power-band (rather than any electronic magic in the throttle body).

However for split second reactions and total predictability, use the manual gear selection in the J-gate. The most interesting drive I’ve had was going up through mountains with the car locked in 2nd gear. That gives a perfectly legal 0-60MPH range, but my god does the car leap out of every corner, even uphill.

In normal day to day driving, it can be quite surreal to see the RPM drop to near idle when cruising along at steady speeds. Even at 70MPH it’s well under 2,000 RPM. The gearbox knows full well how much torque the engine has available, and makes use of it to keep the revs low.

The engine is an absolute joy. There is power at every position on the rev counter, it revs freely and is silky smooth. It is of course the supercharged motor that makes this car special. On the road, the power feels effectively limitless.

The sound is joy - yes, it’s normally very quiet: this is an old-school Jaguar with high refinement, not the burbling XFR - trundle around town and the car is a sleeper, hit the power you get a combination of roar from the back and supercharger whine from the front. I find myself sometimes dropping to 2nd gear when driving steadily in 30 and 40MPH zones - the engine kicks up to 3,000 RPM, which is where the sound seems to come alive with V8 noises.

Brakes are very powerful, in keeping with the 400HP motor. I was worried that the newer STR brakes would be a step down from the Brembos of earlier cars, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m trying to think of a situation when I’ve had to hit the brakes hard and can’t think of one - so either I’ve been lucky in that regard or there is an excess of capability.

Dynamic Stability Control - all I can say is that this works. If I hit the power too enthusiastically when cornering in the rain, then the back of the car will begin to step out before DSC pulls the car back into line. It’s noticeable that the car does literally correct the direction for you.

Hint: Put on decent tyres. I had Falkens on the old car and had trouble keeping the car from breaking away even on light throttle. This car has SportContact2 and they stick well. The difference is being able to jump from the lights with a slight tyre squeal and massive acceleration Gs, compared to the car being held back by traction control.

Efficiency: don’t expect it. I’m doing around 12 MPG (imperial gallons) around town on my typical short 2 mile trips (which is about the worst conditions for MPG). On a long motorway run I’m under 30MPG. I record fuel usage meticulously and have found that the onboard computer is consistently within 5% of my calculated figures.

If there is something to be disappointed with, it is that perhaps the car makes driving too easy and a little boring. The car bolts up to the speed limit with no fuss; all I have to do is press the pedal on the right.

That I bought another STR after suffering financial loss on a badly maintained example must say something for it. It also shows that a car reasonably well looked after will treat you well, but skip on maintenance and it will bite back.

My only real issue has been a catalyst failure. I have suspicions this may be why the last owner traded it in - I got the failure code intermittently at the one month and two month marks after picking the car up, before it went permanent around the 4 month mark. I was unable to make a warranty claim, as you’ll read below, and didn’t have the stomach for another SOGA struggle for a relatively minor issue. No particular reason has been found for the failure (no misfire), but a local Jaguar independent is sorting this for me.

I was particularly disappointed with the Jaguar main dealer that I bought from. As soon as the show room staff knew I didn’t want a brand new F-Type, I was treated like some street urchin come in begging for scraps. The 2nd hand cars salesperson then proceeded to promise the world.

I was told verbally the car had a Jaguar Approved Used warranty. I explicitly asked for this, given my experience with my last STR. I would never have considered a dealer car otherwise. On the day of picking up the car, it seems that I signing a paper disclaiming the full warranty and taking a limited coverage ’Select’ warranty - it wasn’t described to me except as “just some paperwork to sign” along with a mountain of others. I consider that as damn near fraud, as why on earth would I have ever signed such a thing without a corresponding drop in purchase price?, but perhaps I should have taken an hour to go over the paperwork more carefully.

The fuel included with the car went from verbally “half a tank on delivery” if I agreed to buy, to “quarter tank” when I arrived to pick the car up, “a full tank” on the sales agreement which the salesperson scribbled out!, to “£20” when I got the keys and saw the fuel gauge on reserve. It had evidently been taken for the MOT on that £20, as I managed to put enough fuel in to evidence there being ~£15 worth in.

Wrong tyres were fitted - 235s on the front instead of 245s. Safe, yes - winter tyres are specified by Jaguar as 235s - but absolutely ruined the car’s ride.

Undisclosed fees - I was asked for another £70 before they’d hand over the car. I nearly walked, but these people know how to gouge.

A final word on cost. The STR is available at genuinely knock down prices. Don’t go too low and buy a piece of junk, but you can pick up nice cars at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent XF. The S-Type has become the ‘undesirable’ Jaguar model and hasn’t been hit with the XF / F-Type halo. If you know your cars and can look beyond the retro styling, take advantage of this.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th July, 2014