Underrated Gem: Jaguar S-Type R – Affordable High-Performance Luxury Sedan

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Jaguar S-Type R
Jaguar S-Type R

Reviving a thirty-year hiatus, the mid-size luxury sedan stepped onto the automotive stage in late 1998, proudly donning the S-Type nameplate for the 1999 model year. Drawing inspiration from its iconic predecessor, the design of the new S-Type seamlessly melded classic motifs like the round headlights and front grille with the contemporary flair of late-1990s Jaguars.

Despite initial skepticism surrounding its retro-inspired aesthetic, the luxury sedan quickly won hearts with its impeccable road manners, solid build quality, and diverse engine lineup, carving a niche for itself in the competitive automotive market, particularly in the UK. In a bid to refine its offering, Jaguar discreetly revamped the model in 2004, addressing some of the earlier critiques.

However, enthusiasts were already abuzz a year prior with the introduction of the high-performance S-Type R variant, adding an exhilarating dimension to the lineup. The standard S-Type competed with the E39 BMW 5 Series and the W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class but lacked a high-performance rival to the M5 and E55 AMG.

Jaguar S-Type R
Jaguar S-Type R (Jaguar)

Jaguar filled this gap in 2003 with the S-Type R, featuring a sportier appearance and a significantly more powerful V8. The S-Type R’s luxurious interior included heated, power-adjustable bucket seats wrapped in high-quality leather and an electronically adjustable steering column. It also had a touchscreen infotainment system, which can be upgraded with modern aftermarket alternatives.

From 2003 to 2008, Jaguar built over 8,000 S-Type Rs, with nearly half exported to the US. Today, this underrated model is far less popular and considerably cheaper than its rivals, with average values around $13,063.

For those seeking an affordable high-performance sedan, the S-Type R is a worthwhile choice. Maintaining it might be costly, especially in the US, but it’s generally reliable if well-maintained. The luxurious interior, precise handling, and powerful engine make it a bargain buy, offering an exciting driving experience even today.

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