A Diesel, Finally
Jaguar Anti-Diesel Faction Jeopardised The Company
Fantastic Twin-Turbo V6 Diesel Should Boost XJ Sales
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 didnt 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.
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 Browns Lane plant in Coventry. The over-ambitious sales goal of 200,000 was missed by miles, barely reaching 120,000. It cant be coincidence that this dismal performance was at least aided and abetted by Jaguars 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 cars lightness 1,660 kg compared with the A8s 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). Its 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.
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 drivers 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.Powers 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.
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