UK CAR Reviews: Jaguar XJ6 4.0 Sovereign (6cyl) 1995
For some cars you need to dress right
before you can get in them. There's no point in driving this car in a string
vest and a pair of Bermuda's. Nope, no point at all. Question is should
I buy a cravat, blazer and handlebar moustache or sheepskin coat and a porkpie
hat? Hmm decisions, decisions.
Long gone are the days when Jags were hopeless rust buckets that broke down every other day and burnt large holes into your tweeds. Nowadays they are actually well built and reliable but the running costs are still likely to set fire to your trousers. But then who cares, if you're in the market for this class of car, you can probably afford the not inconsiderable cost of stuff like tyres, pads, servicing and of course expensive visits to the filling station forecourt.
You're more interested in whether your neighbours will be impressed, whether your golf clubs will fit in the boot, if it looks flash outside the local wine bar, and whether you will actually enjoy driving it. The answers to all of these are going to be yes unless:
A: Your neighbours are royalty
B: You have the world's largest set of novelty golf clubs
C: The wine bar is a Friends of the Earth meeting place.
But there can be no way on Earth you're not going to enjoy the driving experience.
The majestic lines of the XJ line, stretching back over 20 years are still unsullied by the passage of time. Stick this car next to its rivals and see for sure how the feline grace of the Jag compares to the Panzer -like styling of the up market Germans.
BMW 5 series, 7 Series, Merc, Lexus, Roller, Bentley - bring what you like but no other luxury car can match the lines of the Jaguar. We may dismiss it as we have become so accustomed to it, but go on, be honest, it's still the best looking limo on the market.
Alloy wheels always seem to be a problem to Jaguar, they never seem to find just the right style. Still, these at least are conservative efforts and don't look like they have been stolen off a 70s custom car or a 90s pseudo Hot Rod.
The lines may be graceful but three beautifully shaped sets of curves are never going to offer the space of three square boxes for the same road space. The interior is a little tighter than you may expect but how much space do you need? Sure, if the good living has expanded your girth beyond the bounds of decency, the front seats may be a little tight, but for most of us averagely oversized individuals, there is room enough.
The rear leg room is reputed to be a little short, but what do I care? - I'll be sitting in the front, the free loaders in the back can like it or lump it - most, I suspect will rather like it. The boot is courtesy of the design quite shallow, but will still allow more than enough stuff to be stowed, for any practical use I can think of after all, not many of us take the kids camping in a Jag (do we?).
The interior decor is of course the usual Jaguar cliché, leather walnut and wilton and none the worse for it. Sort of what you would expect a gentleman's club to be like, (without the bar and snooker table). The seats adjust electronically and are firm but very comfortable. They're party trick is to stretch back at rest to allow extra easy access and then adjust forward when the ignition comes on. Clever but ever so slightly pointless for normal sized humans. It does allow you time to get in the mood upon first entry though. Slide in, turn on ignition, select preset driver position, relax and wait whilst seat and wheel position themselves.
The drive train is mated to a slick shifting easy gated, twin mode 4 speed autobox. The box reputedly has a torque converter lockout on top gear to give more fuel/power efficient cruising. I'm sure it's correct but I doubt if your wallet will notice. Either way, the box and motor combine to give you effortless ground covering ability. Foot down, the gear-box kicks down and the Six's strong torque hauls this very big car very quickly around the speedo. Click it into sport mode and the autobox will hold the gears even longer for those who just must have too much of a good thing; normal mode is plenty for most of us. It's also quite difficult to fool and you need to indulge in serious accelerator sawing to get it jumping around.
Jaguars have always had legendary ride qualities, and this one is no different, insulating the driver from all the bumps and thumps of H.M. Highways. It does roll a bit though, not to a disconcerting degree, but more than you might expect. It grips real hard though and holds its line under hard acceleration without any difficulty, and no trace of under/oversteer, just solid neutral grip.
The one let-down is the steering, which is very light and also rather arm twirlingly low geared. This is fine around town and even for just loping down motorways, but stops any dreams of tackling A-B roads in attack mode. Maybe it's just a sign of where this car is targeted. It goes very quickly, the brakes haul it up in a fuss-free manner but short distance, and it glides over bumps. Driven smoothly, it gives a rewarding and relaxing drive and still eats miles very effectively. Driven roughly it shows its age and size by becoming a little ragged at the edges. We are talking about heightened levels here though and for such a big car, it grips and steers very competently. Always bear in mind that the smoothness of the engine, the quietness of the cabin and the calmness of the ride all mean that you are often lulled into a false sense of speed and are probably going way too fast already.
The auto-box may feature twin modes and a quick and easy manual gate but like all modern autos you can shift the lever manually if you really want to, but whats the point? - You don't gain anything by brutalising this car. It's much better to just let the car waft you along on its low down urge, leave the shifter alone and just modulate speed with your right foot. This gives you plenty of time to concentrate on wheel twirling duties.
A flash motor like this is going to look rather cheap without all its toys. We've already mentioned the electric seats, and it would be rather disappointing for anything else not to be electric, you will be glad to know you won't be disappointed. Air con is of course included, as is cruise control. Nowadays, Jaguar doesn't show any signs of raiding corporate parts bins, and while there may be a raft of FORD parts, they are well disguised and difficult to find.
Well it is without doubt a brilliant car, an automotive icon. Brilliantly conceived and executed.
So, if I could afford to buy it,
and if I could afford to run it as it deserves,
then most probably not. It's still a little how can I put it, OLD for me. Maybe in another 5 years time, I'll be old and distinguished enough to look right in one, the sheepskin coats may be off the Jag scene now, but cravats and blazers are still de-riguer. Until the time I can afford Havana's and don't look like a prat smoking one, I'll give it a miss.
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