The frugal feline
Inspired by one of my favourite songs, Sting’s “Stolen Car” (Take me dancing), here follows a declaration of love to something that’s completely out of my league: the Jaguar XJ 3.0 TDV6 Portfolio. And just like Mr. Sting, I imagined the conduct of its rightful owner as I enjoyed my brief time with the big Jag.
Mr Company Director with two kids and a wife moved away from the obvious choice of Mercedes S-Class and didn’t like the big schnoz of BMW’s Seven. Hence he instructed the financial director to purchase a Jaguar XJ 3-litre twin-turbo-Diesel Portfolio, in white, with black leather.
The XJ’s long rear end looks especially imposing in this colour, helped along by the black C-pillars and the futuristic tail lights that give drivers behind you retina burn. The swooping headlights, front power dome, pinched window line, chrome highlights and gunmetal wheels complete the picture.
Inside the big feline you will find, amidst lingering cologne, a symphony of exquisite leather with contrasting stitching, miles of soft suede, acres of beautiful wood, an enormous display, two sunroofs, a terrible clock, fantastic loudspeakers, plenty of shiny chrome, virtual instruments and tons of Jaguar badges.
Almost everything is electrically adjustable, most furniture and the steering wheel can be heated, the front seats will gladly give you a message or cool you down again, there’s rear privacy glass and a retractable rear sunscreen, multi-stage climate control and lashings of space.
Even the kids will be happy when they’re picked up from some private school as the boot lid closes at the touch of a button, the rear seats can accommodate plenty of classmates (or adults) and the infotainment screen will keep an eighth grader occupied for minutes.
Bluetooth telephony connectivity, CD/DVD, USB, ipod and mp3 capability, hard disk drive, navigation, TV tuner and dual-view screen, front seat settings, rear view camera, climate control and others are crammed into the central touch-screen of the XJ.
He was late and worked alone, her ladyship thinks as the Jaguar effortlessly glides across less than perfect suburban tarmac and the odd speed bump. Slow speed comfort is slightly compromised by the low-profile rubber but other than that, the XJ is unbelievably competent: planted, comfy and confidence inspiring.
The kids won’t be quiet as she runs a traffic light but thank Heavens the Jag has incredible brakes and safety systems to keep you out of harm’s way. Other safety items are many, many airbags, auto lights, selectable high beam assist, radar-guided cruise control, auto wipers and auto door locks.
Powering the most affordable XJ (TDV6 Luxury costs N$950,472, Portfolio N$1,085,472) is a 3-litre twin-turbo-Diesel with 202kW (275hp) or an astonishing 600Nm of torque. It only emits 184g CO2/km and alleges to use an average of 7.1L/100km.
I averaged just over 9L/100km with very mixed driving which (a) makes Jaguar’s claim quite possible and (b) is quite frugal for such a huge car. 0-100km/h takes 6.4 seconds (we only managed 7.4) and the top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.
Just before stupid o’clock last Sunday I found myself slap-bang in another line of Sting’s song: expensive car, empty street. So I whispered to the engine, flicked on the lights and we drove into the night. To be more precise, I pressed the start button and the lights came on themselves.
The XJ is an absolute delight to drive with its mix of sublime comfort and sure-footed handling. The engine is eager and smooth, makes a half-decent noise, while the gearbox is equally silky. A Sport mode livens everything up a bit and shift paddles behind the steering wheel call upon quick, precise shifts.
Occupants are treated to a cocoon of British style and quiet luxury, but feeling that there’s more to this one’s life, I pressed some of the buttons around the animated gear lever. Winter mode restrains the car’s urges, Dynamic Mode does precisely the opposite and you may even choose to switch off the traction control.
All control surfaces feel sturdy and expensive, yet light enough to operate with good feedback from steering, accelerator and brakes. Every now and then I caught the XJ Diesel out with a low-speed low-rev turbo hole, but this was the only chink in the bold armour of a fantastic vehicle.
After a week of motoring, the XJ TDV6 still had half a tank and over 400km to go, I started cursing other cars for lacking heated massage seats but was almost glad to relinquish possession of the big feline. As Sting would have put it, I’m just a poor boy in a rich man’s car.
Climate Cool, sunny
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 2/3