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The big cat with a proud tale to tell.

Byline: By Steve Hughes

Jaguar took its time in perfecting the Big Cat for diesel power but it was certainly worth the wait. It may not be the best in class in any particular discipline but the XJ TDVi is competent enough and for Jaguar lovers it is an exceedingly welcome addition.

The 2.7-litre V6 twin turbo oil-burning unit is the same as that of the smaller S-Type, which may trick you into thinking it will be slow and lumbering.

However, the aluminium-bodied XJ weighs less than the smallest X-Type despite its generous dimensions so the 204bhp diesel engine copes well.

There is 320lb/ft of pulling power, which endows the Big Cat with acceleration from rest to 62mph in just 8.2 seconds, whilst it purrs along at cruising speeds of up to 141mph.

The all-important economy average is 35mpg and the company car tax liability is 32%, which could be worse.

There are three trim and equipment levels with prices ranging from pounds 44,000 to pounds 50,000 and depreciation rates of about 50% over three years.

Alternatives include the Mercedes SW320CDI, which is a match for the Jag on all counts and, although it costs slightly more, it holds its value better so is just as good a long-term bet.

It is a similar story with the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series so the Jaguar has its work cut out.

Not surprisingly then, there are handsome discounts to be had, averaging between pounds 4,000 and pounds 6,000 depending upon the model chosen, which is also true of its German rivals.

Jaguar invested an incredible pounds 1 billion in the development of the current XJ range.

It is significantly longer, wider and taller than the previous car and most importantly has an increased wheelbase.

This is the distance between the front and rear wheels, which determines interior room for occupants and was the previous car's greatest shortcoming.

The quality of materials for the interior has been improved, and the fit of the body panels and trim is now impeccable.

Jaguar says that its declared intention was to create a better car than the Mercedes S-Class and parent company Ford was prepared to invest whatever was necessary to achieve it.

In addition to the diesel there are two petrol options ( a three-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 with each mated to the same six-speed automatic transmission as that of the S-Type.

It would be inappropriate to conclude that the Jaguar is the best saloon model in the executive class because most of its German rivals do what it does just as well.

However, for Jaguar aficionados, it is a highly desirable addition to the XJ range and those who opt for it will not be disappointed.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2007
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