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New models - Jaguar - XJ

First Drive: XJ hits a six!

Future shock: Yesterday’s looks betray a thoroughly modern package in today’s value-packed XJ6.

Jaguar’s latest XJ6 offers space and grace for an up-spec BMW 5 Series price

30 Apr 2004

JAGUAR is tempting mid-sized luxury car buyers with a full-sized sedan.

Released on May 2, the new XJ6 is the V6 version of the seventh generation X350 XJ series launched in the middle of last year.

Priced from $149,900, Jaguar is placing its largest cat firmly among more petite pigeons like the BMW 545i ($149,000), Mercedes E500 ($155,900) and the Audi A6 4.2 ($143,000).

However, while the rear-wheel drive XJ6 offers more space and possibly grace, it is not quite on the pace with only six-cylinders versus the others’ V8s.

Power comes courtesy of a heavily reworked version of Ford’s 60-degree 3.0-litre Duratec V6 engine also found in the smaller S and X-Type Jaguars.

Dubbed AJ-V6, in this application it produces 179kW of power at 6800rpm and 300Nm of torque at 4100rpm, hits 100km/h from standstill in 8.1 seconds, has a top speed of 233km/h and can use as little as 7.7 litres per 100km of fuel in the city, 15.3 on the highway and an average of 10.5.

Married to this engine is the ZF six-speed automatic transmission that also services several BMW, Benz and Audi models, among others, and features Jaguar’s trademark "J-gate" gear lever first seen in the 1986 XJ40 XJ6.

Speaking of old XJs, Jaguar claims the XJ6’s performance is comparable to or better than the previous generation 179kW XJ8 3.2 V8 discontinued last year.

Meanwhile, its least expensive full-sized German rivals are the $174,100 BMW 735i (200kW 3.6-litre V8), $177,900 Mercedes S-class (180kW 3.7-litre V6) and $173,900 Audi A8 (206kW 3.7-litre V8).

Jaguar says the AJ-V6 unit can be utilised because of the weight savings of today’s XJ’s aluminium body, which comes in at 1545kg, which is more than 300kg less than the aforementioned big BMW and also beats the Benz S350 (1810kg) and even the aluminium-pioneering (but all-wheel drive) A8 (1770kg).

Employing aluminium instead of steel sees a body-in-white weight drop of 40 per cent compared to the old XJ, while overall rigidity rises 60 per cent – an upshot of the riveted and bonded building technique.

Other benefits include improved noise, vibration and harshness quelling, more precise steering and less body flexing for improved dynamic attributes.

The latter is also augmented by Jaguar’s CATS adaptive damping computer controlled air-suspension, which uses advanced electronics to help optimise handling, cornering and ride characteristics. Anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist and a stability control system are also standard.

Jaguar says that the XJ6’s specification mirrors its 3.5 and 4.2 XJ8 V8 siblings, which are $19,100 and $39,100 extra respectively.

6 center image Included in the price is an electronic park brake, leather and wood upholstery, DVD satellite navigation, a television, telephone, reverse parking radar, cruise control, leather trim, 18-inch alloy wheels and electrically adjustable front seats.

A sunroof, adaptive cruise control, Xenon headlights, heated seats and firmer suspension settings are optional.

The XJ6 aims to add around 70 sale units to the 150-odd XJ total earmarked for 2004. It should also help stoke more interest in Jaguars, resulting in better showroom traffic, especially since year-on-year sales in Australia have fallen by 22.5 per cent from 400 to 310 units to March.

The last time Australians could be in a six-cylinder full-sized Jaguar was in October 1997, when the 161kW 3.2 and 183kW 4.0-litre straight-six cylinder X300 models made way for the company’s all-new V8 engines of similar capacity.

Known as the AJ6 unit and dating back to the 1983 XJ6 Series III, it was the last all-Jaguar designed six-cylinder motor and replaced the famous XK twin cam unit that first appeared in Jaguar’s epochal 1948 XK120 sports car.

In 2.8 and 4.2-litre guises, the XK engine was the heart of the original XJ6 of 1968, of which the basic design (the last completed work by Jaguar-founder Sir William Lyons) lives on in today’s X350 cars.

Since then more than 800,000 XJ cars have been produced, which makes up more than half of all Jaguars sold since the company was formed by the then 21-year-old Lyons as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922.

PRICING
Jaguar XJ6 3.0 (a) $149,900
Jaguar XJ8 3.5 (a) $169,000
Jaguar XJ8 4.2 (a) $189,000
Jaguar XJR 4.2 Supercharged (a) $219,000
Jaguar XJ8 4.2 Supercharged (a) $229,000

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