The history of motor racing has thrown up many, many great cars and companies over the last hundred years or so, indeed the racing heritage on the British Isles alone stretch to hundreds of manufacturers and ancillary companies. Each individual company an important cog in the racing supply chain that has been providing cars and drivers to support since the days when everything was black and white. Perhaps one of the most memorable of all racing teams and manufacturers has to be that of Jaguar, there can’t be many people that don’t recall a particular car or race when the word Jaguar is mentioned whichever your favourite decade of racing was. Jaguar has thrown up so many iconic race cars, the C-type, D-Type, XJR-5 to XJR-17 as well as the F1 cars of the early 2000s.
A look at Jaguar Land Rover’s own official history at http://www.jaguarlandrover.com/gl/en/about-us/our-history/ informs us that Jaguar’s reputation was boosted by its motorsport success in the 1950s, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race twice with a C-type – in 1951 and again in 1953 – and then with a D-type in 1955, 1956 and 1957. In 1961, the company launched what became perhaps the most iconic sports cars of all time, the E-type. Further Racing success followed as you can see below.
The mantra that racing improves the breed is certainly a popular one but is it relevant today (or even yesterday with the S-Type?) Can we really be expected to believe that somewhere in this 2.5ltr V6 is the memory of those Le Mans victory’s of the 1950s or the sports car success that followed?
The Jaguar C-Type is often quoted as having a naturally aspirated petrol engine of 3.4 litres with double overhead camshaft 6 cylinder with 2 valves per cylinder which combines to create a powerplant that produces 200 bhp. Now if we compare the C-type with this particular S-Type, Its 2.5 litre engine is a naturally aspirated, double overhead camshaft, 6 cylinder unit that produces 201 bhp (204 PS/150 kW) of power at 6800 rpm, and maximum torque of 250 N·m (184 lb·ft/25.5 kgm) at 4000 rpm. Fifty years apart but not so different after all.
As discussed in part 1, the interior of the S-Type is a relaxing and comfortable place to spend serious amounts of time. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste and is viewed by some as being needlessly nostalgic but I really enjoyed sitting in this cabin. The deep leather seats are cosseting and seriously comfortable and it is simple to move and adjust the seat and steering wheel to gain the perfect driving position. As much as it is a cliché, I have to say that the controls really do fall easily to hand and all that you need is easily within reach.
With your left foot on the brake it is simplicity itself to move the gear lever from park through to drive before the gentlest of touches on the throttle automatically disconnects the electronic hand brake and begins to move the Jaguar forward. The car hides it’s considerable bulk well, its a 5 series size motor after all rather than 3 series, yet I swear you can feel everything that the rear tyres are telling you about the power being put down by them as the Jaguar begins to move through the rev range. The Jekyll and Hyde nature of the engine is both surprising and obvious in equal measures and it is here that you can start to see and feel how much of Jaguar’s engineering heritage has found its way into this gem of an motor. With MotorMartin’s focus on ‘real life’ motoring it would be too easy to dismiss the Jaguar’s 200 horses as being rather excessive when considering what is necessary to propel a family and their associated belongings around but it’s the way that this motor uses its power that’s truly impressive.
Setting off it’s immediately apparent that the six speed automatic gearbox is a delight, the Jaguar moves up through the gears smoothly as the engine gathers speed and can basically be ignored, there is the slightest pause as the next gear engages before the revs begin to rise again, a satisfying burble emerging from the engine and exhaust as you swiftly make progress. It is easy to keep to a constant speed through town driving whilst the stop start of traffic poses no problems at all. The extraordinary comfort and engine combine perfectly to allow the driver to concentrate fully on the road and other road users whilst enjoying the luxury that this premium motor car provides. Once out of town the ability of the Jaguar to isolate the driver and passengers from the road and its imperfections is a league apart from the average family car and if, like most of us, you’ve been spent most of your driving in Astra’s and similar then the ride quality will be a revelation. Jaguar’s engineering know how, directly honed from years of experience on the track is brought to bare on this large saloon, the suspension being both soft and controlled yet, when you are making swift progress over empty country roads, it does a superb job of keeping everything in check facilitating the more enthusiastic driver to fully exploit the horsepower easily accessible under the bonnet.
Once confident with the external dimensions of the big cat you find yourself able to use the accurate steering and easy power delivery to place the Jaguar exactly where you want it through the corners. Pressing the throttle into the carpet encourages the automatic to drop down a couple of gears before raising its hackles and shooting off toward the next set of bends. You can feel the rear of the car digging into the road, see the traction control light on the dashboard flickering as the tyres grip, unload and grip again yet, and here’s the quality of it all, everything feels so natural, so easy. It really is a breed apart.
This is a drivers car hidden under the guise of a family saloon. MotorMartin loves how this car feels and drives. It is equally at home on the motorway, cruise control set to 70 mph, as it is in traffic or on the commute to work. Comfort, control, ease of use. Are there any downsides? With prices for a good, clean, low mileage example of the 2.5 petrol starting at around £4000 is it time to unleash your inner Hyde? Find out in part 3 later this week.
Where will you go?