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All bases covered; Edward Stephens found pleasant surprises around every corner with the new Jaguar.

Byline: Edward Stephens

It's a difficult trick to blend the old with the new in just the right proportions to make a product successful.

Get the balance wrong in the case of a new car and you could have a multi-million pound disaster on your hands.

Get it right - as in the case of the new Jaguar XJ - and you have a masterpiece of design, technology and heritage that will be a best seller.

The new flagship of the company is the first XJ to have broken the mold by turning its back on the traditional Jaguar shape, but fortunately not on the Jaguar tradition.

The latest Jaguar is packed with technology that would have been beyond the wildest dreams of the designers of the original XJ, but when you drive one you can feel the heritage of the marque in every twist and turn of the road.

More tangible are the numerous features which make it a car which is easy to live with on every front.

The 3.0-litre diesel engine is barely audible on tickover yet when pushed will rocket the car in a very civilised manner to 62 miles per hour in just 6.4 seconds, on its way to a limited top speed of 155mph.

With performance like that it's hardly surprising that diesel versions of this car are expected to account for up to 80 per cent of all sales, especially when it will average more than 40mpg.

Along the way you just don't feel the gears in the six-speed automatic gearbox engaging at all as the car simply glides along majestically.

Switch from the normal "Drive" on the gear selector to "Sport" and use the Dynamic mode button on the transmission tunnel, however, and the car takes on a different persona as it holds onto each gear for longer, the dampers and steering are firmed up and the accelerator response becomes far sharper. On preproduction models you even felt the seatbelts tighten across your chest as if the car sensed that you were about to push it that much harder, but Jaguar decided to drop that idea before going into full production.

Lots of features on this car come as a surprise, happening automatically as you encounter different driving conditions.

On a an unlit country road, for example, my XJ diesel test car suddenly switched to main beam to light the road ahead, leaving me at first thinking I had accidentally caught one of the controls.

As soon as another car came into view travelling towards me the XJ's sensors switched it back to dipped beam and then full beam again when the car had passed by.

Standard features on the Portfolio version I was driving included everything from "virtual" dials projected onto a 12-inch high definition screen in front of the driver to a double panoramic glass roof with electrically operated blinds to adjust the interior light.

The Portfolio will cost you pounds 10,000 more than the entry level diesel model but that gives you additional features too numerous to mention in full.

They include a rear-mounted camera for reversing, 20-inch alloy wheels, four zone climate control, soft grain leather seats with multiple adjustment and a suede-like finish to the headlining and roof pillars.

You also get the "magic" monitor, which gives a different view to different people, all in the name of safety. I'll explain. If you are a front seat passenger you can watch your favourite television programme on the centrally mounted screen while from the driver's seat all that can be seen - on the same screen - is the map of the GPS navigation system. One screen, two totally different images at the same time. Now that's clever.

And if the driver doesn't want to hear the dialogue from the TV the passenger can wear earphones.

Jaguar seems to have thought of just about everything.

CAPTION(S):

The XJ's 'magic monitor' projects separate images for driver and passenger The efficient diesel XJ is likely to account for four fifths of sales
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 30, 2010
Words:672
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