The "S" in the Jaguar S-Type sedan stands for Stealth. Add "R" to the title and it's a Rocket.
The S-Type is in the middle of the Jaguar lineup between the entry level X-Type and the XKs and XJs. But it's no middle-of-the-road car. Like the porridge temperature in the Three Bears, the S-Type is just right.
There are choices within the S-Type range as well. It starts with a 235-horsepower 3L V-6 that's more of a pussycat than a Jaguar. Next is a 4.2L V-8 of 300 horsepower.
With the R's supercharged 4.2L V-8, this Jaguar really snarls. It gets to 60 mph in a startling 5.2 seconds on its way to a governor-limited 155 mph. That's sports car acceleration in a sedan thanks to 400 horses and a six-speed automatic transmission.
Handling is right there, too. The R takes the turns surgically, doing most of the work. The driver's only decision is how fast does he want to zip around the curve?
Dynamic Stability Control senses if the driver is going too far and nudges the Jaguar back on track. An active suspension system tweaks things further, reducing understeer (the desire to go straight in a turn) or increasing it for high-speed travel. The ride is supple – athletic on the twistys and comfortable on the straights.
•Engines: 32L V-6, 4.2 V-8, 4.2 supercharged V-8.I-4
•Dimensions: 114.5" wheelbase; 193" length
•Base price: $48,335; as tested $67,735
•Fuel economy: 17/23 mpg
Adaptive cruise control keeps the car at a specified distance from those in front. That's part of a luxury group that includes soft-grain leather seats, "premium" foot-well rugs, wood gearshift knob and electric rear sunshade. The power driver's seat moves 16 ways and the power passengers seat a mere 12.
The premium package adds adjustable foot pedals and memory settings for seats and mirrors. There's a navigation system, satellite radio and heated front seats as well as a sunroof. The parking brake is electronic.
Unfortunately, the R can also include a gray-stained bird's eye maple. The regular wood is burl walnut, which should be the only kind allowed.
That interior seats four in true Jaguar fashion – snugly. There's little room to loll. It's the exterior that gets the designers' attention. The shape of the S-Type seems more feline than its larger brothers. The mesh grille adds to a coiled spring appearance. The spoiler on the trunk of the R is just showing off.
The S-Type's modest dimensions help in parking lots as well. It's 193 inches long on a 114.5-inch wheelbase. Base price for a V-6 is $48,335, rising to $63,335 for the R. As tested, the tab came to $67,735.
Fuel economy is 17 and 23 mpg but who's asking? Sure, the cupholders are small and the storage is meager. You want cupholders and storage – get a minivan. With a minivan, the fuel economy will be about the same and the joy a lot less.