Jaguar XJ R-Sport SWB 3.0

V6

I'VE always loved Jaguars I have to confess, in all their shapes and forms.

I vividly remember my best friend's mum having a striking Mark II when I was at junior school.

Bizarrely I recall her saying it was worth next to nothing as it was considered ‘frightfully old-fashioned'.

How I often wish I'd offered her the contents of my building society account back then (yes, I actually had enough to meet the estimated value) and kept it in storage for a few decades.

At that time in the early to mid-seventies the far more modern Jaguar XJ was of course the height of fashion and the executive car of choice for any upwardly mobile businessman worth their salt.

Amazingly it was a car that changed little over time - almost like an executive version of the Volkswagen Golf it evolved slowly.

Perhaps it was down to the fact it was the last Jaguar which had some input from the company's founder Sir William Lyons but it was a car that retained that inimitable shape all the way from 1968 until 2009.

That was until Ian Callum - Jaguar's current design director - came along and restyled the cars for the 21st century.

The sublime XF paved the way for Jaguar's new design direction, a move which it saw it ditch its devotion to retro-styled cars and adopt something altogether more modern.

In many ways Callum's XJ was more radical than the XF and quite a daring take on an executive saloon.

It might have been around in its current form, albeit with a few tweaks and tucks along the way, since 2009 but it still manages to look cutting edge and very different.

In some ways it's brash, angular and imposing, but it also manages to exude a certain sleekness and class that sets it apart.

I can see its looks, particular that chunky back end, might not be to all tastes, but it works for me.

In the executive saloon class the XJ has some tough competitors in the shape of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class.

The fact that is more than capable of holding its own against such esteemed company speaks volumes for its attributes.

Sit inside and the XJ is every bit the upmarket executive saloon. It's got a beautifully appointed cabin where wood, metal and leather combine to great effect to create a truly luxurious and aesthetically pleasing environment.

On top of that, Jaguar engineering and design flourishes - key among them the circular automatic gear selector - give it added individuality.

XJs of old used to be powered by powerful six and 12-cylinder petrol engines but driving one with a V12 under the bonnet these days might require a second mortgage.

This XJ was powered by a silky smooth and wonderfully refined diesel 3.0-litre unit, to the point where it really didn't feel like a diesel at all.

It'll take you to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph and complete the 0-60mph sprint in under six seconds.

Mated to a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission it makes for a truly satisfying and relaxing drive.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the XJ though, is that while it's a big car it really doesn't feel like one.

It was one of the first modern Jaguars to make extensive use of aluminium in its construction.

The resultant weight loss, combined with all-round excellent engineering, means it feels exceptionally light, nimble and agile.

As mentioned the XJ has evolved during its lifespan. That 3.0-litre diesel engine has been improved so it emits less CO2 and is more frugal, to the point where in theory it's capable of 48mpg.

Other enhancements in the current model include the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system.

Cars in this segment often come with a lot of gizmos and one this XJ came with an automatic parking driver assistance feature.

Push a button on the dash and it'll select a space and parallel park the car for you, or slot into a suitably sized space in the supermarket car park. Slightly surreal at first but it actually makes a lot of sense.

It has a lot of other features that make a driver's life easier, including adaptive cruise control with queue-assist, reverse traffic detection, closing vehicle sensing and a 360 degree surround camera system.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar XJ R-Sport SWB 3.0 V6

Price: £70,975

Mechanical: 302bhp, 2,993cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 5.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 48

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 155g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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