Fleet News

High expectations for S-type facelift

'THE recent facelift for Jaguar S-type was quickly followed by the introduction of a new diesel option.

Cosmetically and mechanically, the facelift brings a new rear end – offering the car a much cleaner look, a new aluminium bonnet and dynamic improvements to the chassis for improved handling.

Enhanced interior features include a greater choice of trim options since it went on sale on April 5. But none of this will boost sales quite like the addition of a diesel, which Jaguar expects to make a major contribution to an overall 10% lift in UK sales.

The new engine was designed and produced in conjunction with PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Jaguar's owner, Ford.

It is a 2.7 V6 twin-turbo, second-generation common-rail direct-injection with a super-fast piezo-electric injector system, producing 206bhp, offering 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds.

It is an important high-end addition to fleet choice lists and I drove the car down in the south of France a couple of weeks ago.

This car has been long awaited and, according to Jaguar, could account for more than 50% of S-type sales in the UK and a much higher percentage in Europe, providing they can source enough engines.

Jaguar clearly means business with this car, as the launch itself demonstrated, attracting press, dealers and fleet clients over a three-week period.

This car needs to hit the ground running because it will be up against some strong, well-established competition. Look at BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes Benz E-class, which all have some stunning diesel engines on offer.

We drove the 6-speed manual version on the first day, and a 6-speed automatic the second, with the automatic scoring the most points for comfort, due to its exceptionally quiet, smooth gear changes.

The car to have has to be the auto, although fuel consumption does suffer slightly, at 36mpg combined, compared to 40mpg for the manual version.

The development of quiet, efficient and economical diesel engines has spurred so much growth in this executive sector of the market and there is increasingly little reason to choose the thirstier petrol version.

For fleet buyers diesel is the right choice at present. Despite higher costs new, when cars reach the used market and owners are paying for their own fuel, diesel will continue to be the engine of choice. However, this does not mean that choosing petrol today will necessarily mean poor returns on disposal.

The fact is that, according to our own research, there will be so few petrol variants of some models available in the future used market that oversupply will not be an issue.

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