It’s long been an axiom that if you line up a gaggle of luxury cars, all eyes go straight to the Jaguar.
Nothing has changed. The XJ6 series remains the best looking big sedan on the market with a presence that few cars can match.
When Ford paid several billion dollars to acquire the British Jaguar organisation six years ago, it set out to turn it into one of the world’s top luxury car-makers and promised that its reputation for style would remain undiminished.
Though Jaguar has always scored highly in emotive appeal, its engineering and quality control had been well behind the top German marques. Thanks to a massive input from Ford, times have changed and Jaguar now has the invisible qualities needed to compete in the rarefied atmosphere of upper crust motoring.
Code-named X300, the latest range is a replacement for the long-running XJ40 series and has a different body plus a choice of two new six-cylinder engines.
It retains Jaguar’s traditional strengths of outstanding appearance and sumptuous interior but adds a new measure of refinement and travelling comfort. Even the least expensive of the nine variants, the XJ6 3.2-litre, is both a desirable sporting sedan and a genuine limousine for stately motoring.
Jaguar sales have risen sharply, thanks to the Ford-inspired approach to quality control backed by one of the best warranties available.
The 1996/7 range comprises standard and long wheelbase Jaguar models and two versions of the more upmarket long wheelbase Daimler. Priced from $124,500 to $215,500, all cars come well equipped, and a sunroof, special cream trim and metallic paints are the major options.
Standard fittings include dual airbags, ABS brakes, climate-control air-conditioning, automatic transmission, 12-way power driver’s seat, leather upholstery, 6-stack CD player, cruise control, trip computer, remote door-locking and a rear centre console.
The Jaguar range comprises standard, long wheelbase and Sports versions of the XJ6 3.2 and similar cars with a 4.0-litre engine. There are also short and long wheelbase Sovereigns and for a real adrenalin rush, the XJR.
The XJR has a supercharged engine delivering a sizzling 240 kW and is capable of ferocious acceleration if required.
The range also includes six cylinder and V12 versions of the Daimler which is essentially a more luxurious XJ6. The standard XJ6 has similar dimensions to a Holden Commodore and offers about the same passenger and luggage space. It is of course more exclusive, aided by advanced engineering plus the incomparable Jaguar styling wrapped around a wonderful ambience of leather and timber.
For customers prepared to spend another ten grand, the stretched models have an extra 12.5 cm behind the centre pillar, making room for longer doors and additional rear seat legroom.
For most people however, the standard wheelbase model does the job nicely. The latest body has thicker glass to further isolate exterior noise, a lockable glovebox below the passenger airbag, a CD-stacker and the latest range of Pirelli tyres.
With rear-wheel drive, the big ‘cat’ matches its German competition in performance, handling, ride comfort and overall road dynamics.
The 3.2-litre engine develops a robust 161 kW delivered with the well-known silky Jaguar purr.
It drives a four-speed auto transmission with an unusual J-gate shift pattern. One side of the gate provides the normal automatic choices but the left side offers manual shifts.
The relatively heavy car can accelerate from rest to 100 km/h in less than ten seconds and does so with consummate smoothness and lack of drama.
Fuel consumption is more temperate than used to be the case and drivers can expect to use 11.3 litres per 100 km, or 25 miles per gallon, on the open road.
The XJ6 has long been noted for the quality of its ride and, although the competition has lifted its game in this department, the suspension continues to pamper its occupants by almost eliminating road jars.
The XJ6 has enormous presence on the road, with impressive performance and road manners plus an appearance that refuses to be ignored.
AT A GLANCE
MODEL: Jaguar XJ6 sedan
PRICE: from $124,500.
POWER: 161 kW at 5100 rpm.
ACCELERATION: 0-100 km/h in 9.8 seconds.
ENGINE: 6 cylinders, DOHC; 3.2 litres, compression ratio 10 to 1; bore and stroke 91 mm by 83 mm, injected.
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed auto with 4.09 axle ratio.
SUSPENSION: Fully independent, with coils and wishbones.
DIMENSIONS: Length 5024 mm; width 1799 mm; height 1307 mm; wheelbase 2870 mm; ground clearance 115 mm.
TURNING CIRCLE: 12.1 metres.
TOW CAPACITY: 1500 kg.
KERB WEIGHT: 1800 kg.
0 – 50 km/h 3.9
0 – 65 km/h 5.2
0 – 80 km/h 7.5
0 – 100 km/h 9.8
30 – 60 km/h 2.7
50 – 80 km/h 3.1
70 – 100 km/h 4.0
80 – 110 km/h 4.5
220 km/h top
180 km/h third
120 km/h second
70 km/h first
FUEL CONSUMPTION: Average on test 12.8 litres per 100 km (22 mpg). Average on tour 11.3 litres per 100 km (25 mpg). Average in town 14.1 litres per 100 km (20 mpg). Fuel capacity 81 litres.
INTERIOR DETAILS: Front seat headroom 940 mm; max. front legroom 1290 mm; front shoulder room 1450 mm; max. rear headroom 870 mm; minimum rear legroom 660 mm; min. rear knee room 140 mm; max. rear shoulder room 1455 mm.
EQUIPMENT: Reclining front seats, remote releases for boot lid and fuel flap, door bins, console bin, glovebox, tachometer, multi-speaker CD/AM/FM audio system, rear window demist, central door-locking, digital clock, leather seat trim, four-speed auto transmission, climate control air-conditioning, day/night mirror, power windows, 3 grab handles, map pockets, adjustable steering column, halogen headlights, power door mirrors, intermittent wiper speed, 12-way powered adjustments for driver seat, driver foot rest, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS brakes, dual airbags and cruise control.
BOOT DETAILS: Max. width 1620; max length 810 mm; max depth 510 mm; spare wheel located under floor; boot light. Fixed rear seat. Loading lip low at 630 mm.
PARKING: Large turning circle, power steering. Rear corners cannot be seen from the driver’s seat. Painted bumpers and side protection mouldings.