If you're looking for a bargain performance/luxury sedan from the early 2000s, they don't come much better than Jaguar's S-Type R!
Lovers of performance sedans had it good in the years just after the arrival of Y2K. Period magazines featured many a comparison test between the BMW (E39) M5, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG and Audi RS6. But there was another contender that was often forgotten/ignored, perhaps unfairly so...
OK, so Jaguar's S-Type did have questionable styling and shared its platform with a Lincoln (Jaguar was part of the Ford fold at the time), but through some precision tuning, the famous British marque's engineers managed to develop a car that delighted those who gave it a chance.
But let's be clear and honest about it... the S-Type R had neither the M5 V8's charisma, nor the E55 AMG's sledgehammer punch or the Audi's ballistic ground-covering ability. What it offered instead was engagement, steering precision and sheer dynamic finesse. There was a delicacy to the S-Type R's controls that made it a real delight to drive with vigour, even if it couldn't match its rivals for outright pace.
It was also by no means slow, though. Power came from a 4.2L Eaton-supercharged V8 that pumped out 298 kW, enough to launch the S-Type R to 100kph in 5.6 seconds. The later, facelifted car, got an extra 15kW in addition to subtly revised styling. Ah... the styling. You can't really ignore it, can you? And for many the car's look will be a deciding factor. Still, there's something about it... in a darker hue, riding on those large alloys, and with subtle badging, it possesses a real sleeper factor.
Inside...well, the less said the better. The S-Type dates from a period when Jaguar was still clinging to its retro design language (this car was supposedly a modern version of the iconic '60s S-Type), so the cabin is very "pipe and slippers", even though the "R" got different seats and the wood made way for more modern materials.
Shop around carefully these days and you can pick up an S-Type R for as little as R120 000. Those in the know say they're generally reliable machines, but beware very high-mileage cars and a complete service history is very important. If you find a good one, you'll have a car that's massively fun to drive, rare on the road and potentially something that will appreciate with time.