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Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ
A Diesel, Finally
Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ

Jaguar Anti-Diesel Faction Jeopardised The Company
Fantastic Twin-Turbo V6 Diesel Should Boost XJ Sales

EVORA, Portuga
“I say unto you, that thus there shall be joy in heaven for one repenting sinner, more than for ninety and nine righteous who have no need of repentance,” according to the Gospel of St Luke.

Jaguar eschewed diesels, even when Europeans were falling in love with them. Even when its great rivals at Mercedes, BMW and Audi were winning sales with diesels that mocked the old tradition of black-smoke spurting, rattly technology relics with the performance of a Mack Truck, the suits at Jaguar refused to admit they were wrong. So wrong, that they undermined the future of the company.

Jaguar, with no doubt a little shove from its owners at Ford, finally had to grit its collective teeth and admit its mistake, as sales slumped and red ink flooded its balance sheet. Now, with diesels available across most of the range, the company has given itself the chance to survive, and win back success.

When Jaguar launched the XJ top-of-the-range saloon a couple of years ago, the motoring press was pretty much unanimous in praising the new car.

But the new XJ had one huge drawback. In a market in which at least 50% of sales were diesels, sorry, no diesel. Jaguar executives blustered and dissembled that it didn’t matter. The excuse was that the all-aluminium XJ body produced such a light car that it was much more fuel-efficient that competing petrol cars.

At the time, Jaguar had no diesels at all.

That was then.

Dire Straits
Now all three saloon cars – the X-Type, S-Type and now the big XJ all burn oil merrily. Hopefully it is in time to save the company, because its finances are in dire straits.

In 2003 it lost $601 million, and Jaguar said it would lose money in 2004 and 2005. According to published reports, Jaguar lost almost $3 billion in the three years ending in 2004. Last year, Jaguar closed the Brown’s Lane plant in Coventry. The over-ambitious sales goal of 200,000 was missed by miles, barely reaching 120,000. It can’t be coincidence that this dismal performance was at least aided and abetted by Jaguar’s slowness in meeting diesel demand.

Now, belatedly, that mistake has been rectified, and some. Hallelujah.

The new 2.7 litre twin-turbo diesel produces 207 bhp and seems perfectly matched to the XJ. It produces oodles of power just when you want it. It is quiet and vibration free, thanks to new acoustic laminated glass, and technology to minimise rumble and rattling in the engine.

The motor might not produce quite as much power as the fabulous 3-litre Audi diesel used in the A6 and A8, but the car’s lightness – 1,660 kg compared with the A8’s 1,830 kg, means that power is up to what ever task you select, from powerful, effortless acceleration or high-speed, relaxed cruising. The diesel is a version of the power-plant produced jointly by Ford and Peugeot (Ford owns Premier Automotive Group, which includes Land Rover, Volvo, Jaguar, and Aston Martin). It’s used in the S-Type Jaguar, the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport.

The engine meets Euro Stage IV emissions requirements. The Diesel Particulate Filter has a system which automatically burns off the build-up of deposits in the exhaust system every 930 miles (1,500 kms). The computer decides when the build-up has reached a level which needs to be burned off, then, imperceptibly does it stuff.

Fabulous Car
Even without the diesel, the new XJ has always been a fabulous car.

“Not only is the car a magnificent performer, but it also restores an important Jaguar tradition – providing an all-round class act at a price none of its competitors can approach.”

That was my take on the new car when it was launched.

The all-new aluminium body gave the Jaguar strength and lightness. It was, and is, a driver’s car with flawless handling and ride. The interior was magnificent, with high-class wood and sumptuous leather. An old Jaguar XJ bugaboo – lack of space in the rear, and limited boot capacity – was also addressed. The fit and finish was also top class, with the result that Jaguar topped the poll as the highest-ranked European nameplate in the U.S., according to J.D.Power’s must recent survey.

When you take the wheel in the XJ, the wood and leather embraces you. The steering wheel is leather and wood as well, and the dials and controls all add to the classy feel of the car. Switch on the engine and the diesel is barely perceptible. Put the six-speed automatic (there is no manual option) into drive and you glide away. The kick-down on the automatic box is instant.

On the relatively empty roads around Evora in central Portugal, the XJ was in its element. Fast curves were handled with great aplomb – you would have to be a seriously irresponsible driver to get into trouble with this car.

The base models come loaded with goodies as you would expect, with leather, electric powered seats and pedals, automatic climate control, electrically-adjustable steering wheel, cruise control, radar reversing, self-levelling air suspension, and various computerised devices to enhance safety.

Jaguar uses monocoque - not space-frame like Audi - aluminium bodies, saying this allows it to satisfy customer demand for better performance, more space, and more gadgets.

Lighter, Stiffer
Jaguar has used aerospace industry techniques, with rivet bonding and adhesives. The new XJ is 40 per cent lighter than the old one and 60 per cent stiffer.

The latest XJs have acoustic laminated glass, which reduces wind and engine noise. The bonnet is lined with integrated side seals to cut noise in the cabin. Electronically controlled active engine mounts cut engine vibration by 90%. The driver’s airbag is isolated from the steering wheel, which cuts vibration. Optional extras now included a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, an automatic speed limiter, and Bluetooth telephone connectivity.

Prices start at £43,995 (65,000 euros) for the XJ TDVi, while the Sovereign and Sport Premium models cost £49,995 (74,000 euros). The diesel version has an increased service interval of 15,000 miles, and Jaguar says this will cut maintenance costs by 7% over 5 years. Because of the claimed 35 mpg fuel economy, CO2 is 214 g/km, giving the lowest car tax bill in the luxury sector, according to Jaguar.

So the sinners at Jaguar have admitted their mistake and there will be much joy in heaven. Seems a bit unfair on Mercedes, BMW and Audi who had the courage to get it right when it mattered.

Neil Winton – July 10, 2005

Jaguar Xj 2.7 TDVi
2.7 litre V6 twin-turbo
207 bhp
Six speed automatic
0-60 mph/100 kms 7.8 seconds
Top Speed:
141 mph-225 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
Jaguar says combined 35.0 mpg-8.1 l/100kms
214 g/km Company Car Tax – 29%
5,215 mm
1,448 mm
Air suspension
Insurance Group:
from £43,995 (65,000 euros)
Mercedes S class, BMW 7 series, Audi A8, Lexus LS
**** out of 5
At last, a diesel; great value
Peerless competition

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