The 1999 Jaguar S-Type was Jaguar’s stylistic nadir, so the 2004 facelift had it all to do. Shame it came at least four years too late.
While the X204 facelift to Jaguar’s S-Type could never fully excise the horror of its truly frightful predecessor, it did re-present it in a slightly more palatable form.
It remains reasonably safe to say the original 1998 X200 was something of a stylistic dog’s dinner; hardly surprising when you consider that it is said to have resulted from an amalgam of three different styling themes stitched together by Geoff Lawson’s team under a overly conservative Ford management. At the car’s 1998 début, a reporter was said to be overheard describing it as looking ‘like a dog having a dump’ and frankly, the canine analogy was apt.
On this basis, almost any alteration should have been an improvement, but the Ian Callum-led 2004 facelift, while retaining the overall form and a good deal of the existing panelwork, tightened up the flabby surfaces, and gave the thing an element of grace sorely lacking in the original. Loosely based upon styling themes from the well-regarded 2001 R-Coupé concept, it demonstrated that Jaguar stylists still understood proportion, even if graphics continued to be something of a sore point.
Had this been the form in which it appeared to the world in 1998, the poor old S-Type’s styling mightn’t now be viewed with such pitiful disdain now. Unfortunately for ‘Jaguaristes’, the facelift didn’t really go far enough – could anything short of a re-skin really manage that? But more pertinently for Jaguar, X204 failed to arrest the sales slide of the model, particularly in the crucial U.S market. By 2004, the die was well and truly cast; too little, far too late.