After the Scorpio - Jaguar XJ6
Hold the horses! You will have seen here that I had anticipated buying the LS400 when my Cosworth runs out of time - perhaps next year. But things have been happening elsewhere, and I may have changed my mind. It's time for another look at the Jaguar XJ series.
XJ 3.0L V6.
Yes, I know what you're thinking ... Big, heavy barge, monumental thirst, iffy mechanicals ... Wrong. Take a look with me what's been happening over there at Browns Lane.
The new XJ was always a beautiful car; voted the Most Beautiful Car in the World - by the Italians no less - but could it compete with the finely tuned, refined Lexus 400? Oh yes. The Jaguar XJ came in for a complete new revamp in the Spring of 2003, and this model now makes every other car in its class obsolete. Although the new XJ is wider, longer and roomier than the old model (although you'd be hard-put to spot it), it has lost 40% of the weight. Jaguar designers have borrowed bonding and riveting techniques from the aircraft industry, so that the entire monocoque chassis is made of aluminium, which is both 200 KG lighter - yet 10-15% stiffer than the old steel one. Magnesium , rather than steel side-intrusion bars protect the passengers.
A work of art in aluminium - and not a spot-weld anywhere.
What difference does this make? Let's put it into perspective - my Cosworth Ultima estate with the extra electrics and larger wheels will weigh in at 1670 Kg with 207 bhp. The humblest Jaguar XJ - with the new all-alloy V6 24V 3.0L engine weighs in at 1545 Kg, and has 240 bhp. Yes, you saw that right, the larger, more powerful car is a full 125 Kg lighter than my Cosworth. Even then, the engine is carefully tuned to develop 80% of its torque at only 2000 rpm, so cruising is a silent, relaxing affair. Even with this smaller engine the car will not be sluggish, by any means.
A cumbersome barge? Not any more. A lighter body makes for much better acceleration and fuel consumption, while the CATS - computer aided air suspension - relaxes the ride quality for cruising and stiffens the suspension response when cornering, making for much less body roll and greater control. Although it is undoubtedly a large car, when pressing it hard on bends you soon forget how big the machine is. This is an astonishing achievement, probably leading it to win the Best Executive Car at Top Gear in 2004 and What Car Best Luxury Car award two years running.
Equipment is impressive even at entry level:-
Air Suspension (CATS)
Electronic parking brake
Vented disks all round
Dynamic Stability control
6 speed automatic transmission
8 X 18" cast alloy wheels
Front fog lights, auto headlights
Rain sensing windscreen wipers
Heated rear window
Electrochromatic RV mirror
Heated, electric door mirrors.
Electric front and passenger's seats
Electric driver's pedal adjustment
Steering column electric rake/reach adjustment, electric foldaway
Burr walnut veneer
Full filtered climate control, dual zone
Variable power-assisted steering
Adaptive Restraint Technology - fires air bags suitable for body position
Front, side and curtain airbags
Electronic brake assist
Energy absorbent seats
Belt pretensioners front and rear
Security is Thatcham 1 approved.
Remote central locking (2 stage unlock)
Glass and intrusion monitoring
Vehicle immobiliser and passive sounder with battery backup.
This impressive list is provided on every Jaguar XJ - many more features are available as standard the larger the engine size. Like the 3.5 V8, the XJ6 is only available in SWB (short wheel-base), but go up to the 4.2 litre V8 and the Supercharged XJR - oh yes please - and a Long Wheel Base model is available.
Just the heated memory front seats, sunroof, heated windscreen and the CD Stacker missing from my Ultima spec then, although a single CD player is a no-cost option in place of the Jaguar radio. The Jaguar sound system has 8 speakers as standard, and many owners would no doubt go for the 6-disk CD autochanger as a £355 option.
I never use the sunroof, anyway. To get the heated front windscreen would be a £245 option for the V6, while the seat memory function is a further £700. Oh, and the Heated front seats would add another £700, although I wouldn't personally bother with that. The top of the range XJ6 - the Sovereign - adds foldback electrochromatic door mirrors, headlights powerwash and zenon bulbs, 19" alloy wheels, and the seats memory pack and variably-heated rear seats. Sounds are upgraded to the Jaguar Alpine sound system rated at 320 watts, subwoofers and 12 speakers, and a 6-disk autochanger tucked away neatly in the boot. You also get voice control of audio, climate control, and where fitted, telephone, navigation system and the TV (!)
The interior is stunning. It is a sense of occasion just sitting in this car. Like the Scorpio, the new XJ has an analogue clock. The steering wheel shape and control buttons, the position of the electric window panel is familiar - but the burr walnuts is real. This dash has the £2,000 Satnav option built in. Nice if you can get it.
Simply beautiful. This leather is the Ivory, which is specified at extra cost - £750 - but IMHO together with a dark metallic blue or red coachwork the visual impact is stunning.
A recent JD Power survey shows that new owners are very impressed with reliability and quality, and every single respondent, 100%, stated that they would buy another.
Prices? Let the first owner take the biggest hit - but be prepared to spend some money to get a good one. Don't forget that you are looking for the new engines which denote the 7th series XJ:- 3.0L V6, the 3.5 and 4.2L V8's. My choice would be the 3.0L V6 Sovereign: a very good compromise with good PWR (higher than my Cosworth) but smaller fuel bills compared with the V8. The buyer may well have specified the 5 Years Free Servicing option, and this is transferable to the second owner, so buying a three-year old car provides two years free of service charges.
For those worried about fuel consumption (I have a 24V Cosworth, so I should worry) an LPG conversion on the V6 can be carried out for £1,500.
In May 2005 the alloy XJ is up to two years old. A low mileage XJ6 is still in the £30,000 region, falling to £20-26000 for a higher mileage model. A lot of money, certainly - but prices reflect much greater reliability and desirability in this model. Another year and higher mileages will drop the price to my bracket, business users will be changing their car for a later model so more cars will be coming onto the market. Then I will be looking!
The Ultimate limousine: XJ LWB Super V8: 400 bhp supercharged V8 engine - 5 seconds to 60.
All images © Jaguar Cars Ltd
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