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Bask in the aura of elegance and style; BUSINESS TODAY: EXECUTIVE MOTORS.

Byline: By Bill McCarthy

ROAD TEST

Jaguar XJ IT'S been a year of mixed fortunes for Jaguar.

Poor sales and job losses at its Coventry HQ followed by the announcement of even more jobs losses have been mitigated by the launch of the stunning new XK model and something just as significant - an XJ with a diesel engine.

The XJ still has that aura of a proper Jaguar - a full blown luxury limo - but many purists are still unimpressed at the thought of a diesel XJ.

I thought I would compare both petrol and diesel models with the new 2.7 oil burner and the frighteningly powerful range-topping 4.2 supercharged petrol engined XJR.

Despite being around for a while now, the XJ still looks the part, but with the diesel option and a price range from around pounds 42,000 to pounds 75,000 it appeals to a wider audience. It has that graceful but powerful, feline look and an aura of expensive good taste.

This latest incarnation is the biggest ever but the all-aluminium body construction means that extra size doesn't mean extra weight.

The interior exudes luxury. The exquisite multi-function leather upholstery seats envelop passengers in the lap of luxury and just about every conceivable extra is included in the cost. For the even more demanding and with a bigger wallet, even more luxury toys are available at a cost.

It may be wood and leather, but it certainly is not pipe and slippers.

The Jag is at the cutting edge of technology and offers a lively driving experience. The massive 19-inch tyres and wheels keep the beast firmly attached to the road with the aid of automatic suspension damping (CATS), sports air suspension and raft of stability and traction controls.

There are four engine petrol engine options, the three-litre V6, 3.5- litre V8, 4.2-litre V8 and 4.2-litre supercharged - and of course the diesel.

And the diesel is so good it begs the question - why go for the petrol engine when the derv version is extremely quiet, powerful and economical?

Well the attraction of the supercharged XJR is clear to see and hear. The 400bhp engine with the screaming twin turbos rockets the vehicle from 0-60mph in just over five seconds, via the silky smooth six-speed auto gearbox and on to an electronically restricted 155mph.

Jaguar claim around 23mpg, but you would need to drive like a nun to achieve this and CO2 emissions are almost off the scale.

The 2.7-litre diesel engine doesn't sound powerful enough for such a big car, but the engine pumps out 206bhp with plenty of torque on hand.

It races to 60mph in under eight seconds, better than most hot hatches, with bags of pulling power throughout the rev range. It boasts 35mpg and lower CO2 emissions which make it an attractive company limo option.

Get people to listen to it on tickover and many will not believe it is a diesel.

At more than pounds 40,000 for even the cheapest model you expect good safety and security and the XJ delivers in spades with front, side and curtain airbags. Alarm and immobiliser are standard and even the cheaper of the sound systems can make your ears bleed.

The XJ is a superb car and now the diesel has made it even better.

FAST FACTS MODEL: Jaguar XJR 4.2 V8 Supercharged

PRICE: pounds 61,995

MECHANICAL: 400bhp, 4,196cc, 8cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6spd automatic gearbox

MAX SPEED: 155mph; 0-62mph: 5.3 secs

COMBINED MPG: 23

INSURANCE GROUP: 19

CO2 EMISSIONS: 299g/km

BIK RATING: 35%

WARRANTY: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage; 3yrs paint; 6yrs anti-rust

FAST FACTS MODEL: Jaguar XJ6 TDVi Executive

PRICE: pounds 43,995

Mechanical: 204bhp, 2,722cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 6spd automatic gearbox

Max speed: 141mph; 0-62mph: 8.2 secs

Combined mpg: 35

Insurance group: 16

CO2 emissions: 214g/km

BiK rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage; 3yrs paint; 6yrs anti-rust

CAPTION(S):

SUPERB.. The Jaguar XJR (main picture) and the Jaguar XJ6 (far left)
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 19, 2005
Words:679
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