Big cat, big car

Big cat, big car

There are several alternatives to blue-and-white badged cars in the luxury market – one being the Jaguar XJ 3.0D. Philip Pagett’s advice is to support British manufacturing.

Y7mots main2What is the difference between a lawyer and a businessman? A businessman drives a Jaguar XJ, according to my children. This was the reaction when I arrived home in this elegant saloon rather than my customary 4x4. I wondered; does this mean lawyers aren’t businessmen? Perhaps not, but back to the subject of this piece.

It is not every day that anyone gives me a £56,000 toy to play with. It is even more rare that someone gives me one for two days like the nice people from Jaguar did – a £56,275 “on the road” XJ 3.0D SWB Luxury, to be precise (although no-one told me what SWB meant and I didn’t ask).

To be fair, two days meant I got it overnight which in a busy week meant a drive home and a drive back in to Leeds the next day, but I’m not complaining. My first question was whether it would give me that same experience that I used to have as a kid when I went in my friend’s dad’s Jag. My lasting memory was the absence of engine noise and super-smooth acceleration.

The New XJ certainly had all of those things. Whilst any diesel isn’t going to be silent, this one does an excellent impersonation of many a luxury petrol engine but with far more torque (or “torques” as Jeremy C would say). It is quieter than any diesel has a right to be.

It doesn’t sound like a diesel from inside except when it is really being tested, which of course, I didn’t have a chance to do, not even on the Burley Bypass, honest! It is an attractive and aggressive looking car in equal measure with a very distinctive deep grill to the front; from the back, it has something of the Bentley about it.

I don’t know whether it was the absence of a German badge but there was no hesitation on the part ofqueuing traffic to allow this car to break in from a side road. This is an experience rarely enjoyed by drivers of cars sporting the familiar German blue and white propeller mark. On the inside, this beast reeks luxury with one or two slightly quirky design features.

The chrome air vents have a slightly retro feel, reminding me of certain cars from the early Seventies – “sublime Art-Deco” is how one critic described it, but Ford Corsair 1.6 is what I kept thinking. But that is very unfair due to the genuine luxury feel of this big cat. Looking at it from the outside, you might expect it to feel like a very long car, but from the inside, you don’t really notice the length at all.

The cabin, whilst roomy, feels still quite snug. The driving position is very comfortable amid beautifully-finished polished walnut and fine stitching detail in the soft leather. The various controls and myriad of toys in this car are surprisingly easy to operate.

Switches and displays are intuitive at least to anybody with basic IT skills – press the dynamic button and the electronic instrument display in front of you goes red, while (apparently) your seat belt stiffens and the six-speed auto transmission swiftly drops a couple of cogs.

Unfortunately, the joys of the Kirkstall Road traffic on the commute to and from Leeds meant that I didn’t have too much of a chance to test this out, but make no mistake there is serious power here, a fact confirmed as the back end stepped out very quickly as I hit the gas a fraction too early exiting a certain roundabout. Well, you’ve got to have some fun! In conclusion, a fine motor and a credit to the British car industry. I strongly recommend to those in the market for a typical German marque in this price range that they test drive an XJ first. They will be very pleasantly surprised that this car presents a powerful argument to buy British.

Philip Paget is a partner and head of employment law at Gordons LLP, solicitors of Leeds and Bradford. Car supplied by Appleyard Jaguar, Canal Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD1 4SR, tel 01274 514400. Prices start from £55,500.