Jaguar's future may be the industry's hottest topic (again), but the company's engineering teams aren't getting distracted from the serious business of honing the next S-type. The new saloon is due on sale in early 2008, and packaging and engine test mules have been putting in the hours at the Nurburgring and around the Whitley R&D centre. The new design will be more radical than the handsome, gently progressive XK; the underpinnings are a revamped version of today's chassis.
Under the skin
Codenamed X250, the new S-type was originally planned as an aluminium monocoque, like the current XJ. However, Jaguar needs the car on the market as quickly as possible, so the new car continues with a steel body featuring some aluminium panels. To save cash and time, Jaguar has overhauled the current car's Dew98 platform, a Lincoln hand-me-down that took some serious mid-life re-engineering to make competitive with BMW and Mercedes. As a result, the new S-type should be on the market 18 months earlier than if Jaguar had taken the all-aluminium route. Changes for the next-generation car include a new rear suspension design, and as this packaging mule shows, more steel between the wheels to boost rear accommodation. The boot is bigger, too.
New look taking shape
This powertrain mule gives a few clues to the new S-type's face. It's testing breathing and cooling for the updated engines, so those ducts are a good indication of what we should see on the finished S-type. The Jaguar badge looks like it'll be mounted in the centre of the grille, while the obscured headlamps are said to forego Jaguar's trademark twin-bulb theme for one-piece units. Insiders say the car retains its swoopy look without looking broken backed. Overall, the design is more dynamic and less curvey. The grapevine suggests we'll get our first taste of Jaguar's new design direction in January 2007, with a Detroit concept. But don't expect this show car to be as close to the finished product as 2005's Advanced Lightweight Concept was to the new XK. Only its big wheels and fancy bumpers differentiated the ALC from the production XK8.