By Sam Hardy / Photos: Poblete
Newcomer’s rear end has been developed to offer increased space both for passengers and luggage. Jag’s striking new front end comprises dramatic lights and mesh grille, which hints at performance from choice of petrol and diesel engines.
In profile, new executive saloon looks more like a coupé. While it’s made from steel under skin, some panels are lightweight aluminium.
Sleek, sexy and sporty... this Big Cat is feline good! And thanks to exclusive inside information, Auto Express can bring you all you need to know about the stunning newcomer - Jaguar's eagerly anticipated S-Type replacement.
Without a doubt, it's make or break time for the BMW 5-Series rival. The current car has found a loyal group of buyers since it was launched back in 1998, but its retro styling has put off just as many - and troubled Jaguar can't afford its successor to fail.
So the firm has thrown caution to the wind and produced a far more futuristic model - codenamed X250. As you can see from these pictures - produced using information garnered by one of our spies, who viewed the finished car at a recent dealer-only event - it banishes the retro look to the past. Our sources have told us the new S-Type will draw inspiration from both the RD6 and R-Coupé concepts. It gets a bold new face with a prominent oval mesh grille - split by a chrome bar bearing the Jaguar badge - and twin single-unit headlights, while the smooth lower bumper incorporates twin foglamps.
The clean lines continue in profile, with the trademark scalloped-shape rear window, but the look is more rakish - like a four-door coupé rather than a saloon. At the back, there are neat XK-style tail-lights and twin exhausts. Chrome trim is kept to a minimum.
As with the existing car, the body will continue to be made from steel, with some panels - such as the bonnet - constructed from aluminium to save weight. Under the skin, the S-Type uses an advanced development of the current model's traditional front-engined, rear-wheel-drive platform, too. While a new Lincoln chassis (from parent firm Ford in the US) was considered, Jaguar bosses judged it unsuitable. Aluminium platforms similar to those on the XK and XJ were dismissed because they would have cost too much and taken too long to develop. This will allow the S-Type to go on sale in 2008.
Inside, the newcomer draws inspiration from the sporty XK, with a near-identical centre console - comprising lots of chrome and leather trim, plus a large engine starter button - and similar dashboard dials. A new steering wheel mirrors the front grille with a chrome strip bearing the Jaguar badge.
However, the biggest changes will affect the packaging of the car. As our shots show, although the overall dimensions stay the same, the wheelbase and front and rear tracks are different to the current S-Type's, so space for occupants and luggage will be greatly improved, while comfort should be enhanced by the deep new leather bucket seats.
Engines are taken from the current S-Type line-up, with buyers getting the choice of an entry-level 3.0-litre petrol model and a 2.7-litre twin-turbodiesel. There's also a new 300bhp 4.2-litre V8, sourced from the XK, while a BMW M5-rivalling 'R' range-topper will offer 420bhp from the same supercharged V8 as the recently revealed XKR.
All variants will be equipped with the Coventry marque's latest six-speed automatic transmission. Jaguar's Active Exhaust - which allows more engine roar to enter the cabin the harder the driver accelerates - is also likely to be a feature of V8 models. Prices have still to be confirmed, but customers can expect to see the new S-Type at a major motor show later next year.