- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 08 September 2011 05:01, Updated 23 November 2011 11:33
Everyone who has ever owned a Jaguar will admit that each one of the big cats has its own personality.
You know, the “that’s not an oil leak, it’s just marking it’s territory” sort of thing.
My uncle had a gleaming white Mark 2 that he lavished with an affection usually reserved for small fluffy animals.
He may have bought it new, I don’t know, but he had it for as long as I can remember and loved it to his dying day.
As I recall, it didn’t travel very far or go very fast, it was almost as if it was one of the porcelain statues my aunty kept locked in glass cabinets in the living room. He could tell you all about its behaviour and each of its foibles.
This is not uncommon behaviour for the Jaguar fanatic.
And there’s a lot of love already being lavished on the new XJ. It is well on the road to such exhalted status after being named 2011 International Luxury Car of the Year by a panel of 12 US motoring journalists and being chosen to ferry guests around during the recent royal wedding in Britain.
The first XJ was introduced in 1968 as “the finest Jaguar ever” and was a hulk of a car. With the successive generations of the big saloon, including the first production V12 engine in 1972, Jaguar kept to a well-worn path.
The danger was that in the quest for more adoration, the marque would become dull and predictable.
Thankfully the Jaguar has bite again.
The marque has regained its magic.
Now owned by India-based Tata Motors, the company has cut the XJ free of the past with a gorgeous new shape and interior design that is both refined and exciting.
Tata, which acquired Jaguar from Ford in 2008, recently said it was ploughing $7.6 billion into Jaguar Land Rover to take on BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
The investment has bred Jaguar’s new supercar, the C-X75, and the latest XJ.
The XJ means business, with the snarling Jaguar badge busting out of a front grille that looks like an electrified cage.
The muscular-looking front end rises fetchingly over the windscreen and dives down sharply to a well-rounded rear that bears little resemblance to Jags gone by.
Inside the car, the link with tradition has also been maintained with a classic line of walnut veneer, but it’s been updated to stretch across the doors and make a circular sweep across the top of the leather dashboard.
Sitting in the middle in constant sight is a badge bearing the word “Jaguar” with half a Union Jack. No wonder Top Gear’s pommie poseurs get all misty eyed about this car.
The difference in interior design to any other car on the market is striking.
The entry level three litre V6 diesel short wheelbase model I drove had the expected heated leather seats for the driver and passenger, but with the bonus of a massage function and cooling.
Another feature it shares with the top-line Range Rovers is a touch screen for controlling the Bowers & Wilkins 600W premium sound system, 30gb hard disk and media hub, navigation and phone functions.
It also has the parallax barrier screen that enables the front-seat passenger to watch a DVD while all the driver can see is the navigation system or the other controls.
It has voice controls as standard and panoramic sun roofs, front and back, phosphor blue interior mood lighting and virtual instruments.
The overhead lights and glove box open with just a faint touch of the finger.
This is simply one of the best interiors on the market.
The engine is silky smooth and very quick, and paired with a six-speed gearbox with steering wheel paddles it makes the car very enjoyable to drive.
But what really makes the big cat roar is switching it to dynamic mode. The twin sequential turbochargers kick in, the suspension stiffens and the car grows a much bigger set of fangs.
In fact, I was prepared not to like the XJ if I had been forced to use the ordinary drive options, as it is rather pacific and doesn’t handle broken surfaces with the same aplomb as it does smooth tracks.
Plus the sloping roof makes it tight in the back for larger than average passengers.
However, the flick of switch brings sheer delight. Knowing there’s more power and wonderful handling than you are ever likely to use burbling under you is sensational.
On a trip to a crowded car park on a rainy day, the lads controlling the flow of cars shouted down the line to find a special spot for the XJ and I was waved into the equivalent of a front-row park.
Gotta love that.