I’ve never felt as if Jaguar really made themselves prominent in Australia. Until recently, the large saloon market has been saturated with domestic offerings from now fallen Ford, Holden, as well as Toyota. As a result, Jaguars or ‘Jaaags’ have maintained a sophistication and elegance that maybe had worn off on its English nationals. They tend to stand out amongst the Calais and Statesmen in terms of refinement and use of luxury materials and separates themselves from the likes of BMW and Audi in their obscurity in Australia. This example, in particular, weighs heavily on the latter.
This 2003 S-Type came as quite a shock. Parked at the friend’s farm up in northern Queensland, I was introduced to it without the benefit of context. Parked in the sheds next to the old boat, it appeared healthier and cleaner than all the machinery surrounding it. This was clearly no attempt at a humorous beater car.
In the end, I was filled in. It was our friend’s recently acquired birthday present, replacing, funnily enough, a Statesman.
The thing is with Queenslanders, they tend to be much nicer than the average Sydneysider, so you can imagine my joy when I was thrown the keys and told to give it a spin. It would certainly be the first ‘luxury’ sedan in which I had put myself behind the (auto-leveling and retracting) wheel.
The experience of getting the 2.5-litre V6 up to speed is uncanny in its similarity to a CVT. If you didn’t know, you’d have thought it’s electric, not in its ferocity of acceleration, but the way in which power is delivered in absolutely delightful whoomphs that ease you up to speed. So easy in fact that one may be so fooled by the creamy acceleration, they may misinterpret the car’s British miles per hour as kilometres per hour, making what should have been a 100km/h cruise into quite the extended drag race against the laws of wind resistance. A war that the Jag would have won if it had happened, which it didn’t, obviously.
The car feels heavy on the road, yet capable. The steering felt as if it had rolled off the production line that morning, reacting well under stress and delivering pleasing feedback under power. By no means were the words ‘power’ or ‘performance’ rolling around in my head at any point. It’s a product of cruise control and centre lane relaxation. The seats eat you up like a welcoming friend and a wooden steering wheel piece will be classy as long as humans are allowed to wield them before Elon takes over our commutes.
In saying that, allow me to compare this early 2000’s Jaguar to a 2021 Tesla Model S. Potentially the strangest comparison you’re likely to read today, but hear me out.
Having jumped into a 2021 Tesla for a test drive recently, one can assure you that driving is not the primary objective. For my younger brother, finding the setting to make it seem as if I had farted via the car’s stereo was priority number one. Hilarious. Then we decided if we wanted to utilize ‘Ludicrous mode’ or not. Do we want to watch Netflix on the big screen? Alright, find the login. How should we like the regenerative braking today? Normal or ‘relaxed’? Shall we pretend we’re astronauts and put the GPS on Mars?
Now, I’m young and was born into this kind of technology, but I believe that the purity of driving is something to be preserved. And by no means does a Tesla take away that experience, it just seems to dilute it behind what appears to be an oversized iPad.
The Jag is the polar opposite of this. Everything you do, everything you feel is mechanical and true. The driver is in control, the car sending reminders that you are, in fact, behind the wheel of a car.
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