Shall I come back when your accountant has left?” Nine seemingly innocent words uttered by my brother-in-law meant that I have been needlessly Jaguarless for the last seven years. My first child had just arrived so a Range Rover had replaced the TVRs and I borrowed a Jaguar XJ to see if it fitted the bill as my motorway hack. I felt I needed a bit of grace, space and pace, as the old advertising slogan used to go.
Unfortunately, my brother-in law just had to choose then to drop by. He could have said he appreciated the classic proportions and the retro detailing. He could even have refrained altogether from comment, but instead he decided to allude to the slightly, um, accountant-at-the-golf-course looks of the old Jaguar XJ and Mrs S immediately gave its purchase an emphatic thumbs down.
But, with the arrival of the new Jaguar XJ the situation has changed, and quite dramatically too. It was styled by Ian Callum, Britain’s greatest living car designer, and everyone, including senior management, loved it immediately. The interior, luxurious and unmistakably British yet completely contemporary in feel, got singled out for particular praise. I got admiring glances everywhere I drove it – and I drove it everywhere because it is one of the best cars I have ever had on test.
The Jaguar XJ rides beautifully and hits 0-60mph in six seconds flat.
The three-litre diesel engine is the same as the one in my Discovery but boy does it make the lightweight aluminium Jaguar XJ fly. It hits 60mph in six seconds dead while doing 40 plus mpg on the motorway and so renders the petrol version irrelevant. It’s as politely muted as a butler’s cough too, which is in keeping with a car which keeps both wind and road noise well down to barely noticeable levels.
It is in the ride handling compromise that this car shows the true genius of its engineers. It rides beautifully, absorbing bumps as if riding on a road surface made of well-beaten egg white. That should mean it wallows through the corners but not a bit of it.
Every time I stretched its legs over my favourite moorland roads, I tried to think what its desire to change direction reminded me of and it was on the final morning that I got it – the Ferrari 599. It has the same front mid-engined balance as the car with the dancing donkey on its nose and, for a proper four-seater, that is quite simply astonishing.
No excuses need to be made for this Jaguar XJ. It is as beautifully made as it looks. Do not, under any circumstances buy a Mercedes S Class or a BMW 7 Series without driving one of these first.
Even if you can’t get to grips with the tax system, and you have never felt the desire to don a Pringle jumper and ruin a good walk, go and buy one. It really is that good.
Specifications for the Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ 3.0 V6 Diesel Portfolio SWB
Top speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 6.0 seconds
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/bensamuelson