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 2004 facelift to Jaguar’s S-Type could never fully excise the visual trauma left by its predecessor, it did re-present it in a 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 unhappily stitched together by Geoff Lawson’s team under a reactionary 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-supervised 2004 facelift, while retaining the centre section, door panels and roof, tightened up the flabby surfaces, the limp tail section and imbued the car with 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.
As one of the more visually successful facelifts of the modern era, had this been the form in which it appeared to the world in 1998, X200’s styling mightn’t now be viewed with such pitiful disdain now. Unfortunately the facelift didn’t really go far enough – nothing short of a reskin would relly have sufficed. But more significantly 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.