Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The S-Type was originally available with either a 240bhp 3.0-litre V6 or a rumbling 4.0-litre V8 with 281bhp. Both options are smooth, refined and well suited to the relaxed nature of the S-Type. In 2002 a 2.5-litre engine was added with 201bhp and the V8 was increased in capacity to 4.2-litres and 300bhp. A supercharged version of this engine was also launched in the high performance R model, with 400bhp, a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds and a (limited) top speed of 155mph.

However the best engine for combined economy and performance is the smooth twin-turbo 2.7-litre V6 diesel, which was added in 2004. It's wonderfully refined and incredibly smooth but sprints from 0-62mph in just 8.1 seconds while still returning 40mpg. All V8 models come with Jaguar's smooth (if not exactly sporty) automatic transmission, while a five-speed manual is available on the other petrol models and a six-speeder on the diesels.

The rear-wheel-drive S-Type lives up to traditional Jaguar standards for ride and handling – it’s a capable sports saloon. It’s not quite as slick as a 5-Series, but with a punchy engine line-up (even the entry-level 2.5 V6 impresses) and sharp handling, most drivers find it great to drive. Sport and supercharged ‘R’ versions are stiffer and have better body control.

CATS active suspension is optional across the range (standard on the R) and gives better composure in corners but the standard car is poised and controlled enough.