Angus Davies drives the Jaguar XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 Diesel SWB and asks, “Can diesel be luxury?”
Like many people, I have always selected German cars; reliable, comfortable with reasonable residual values.
They have transported the Davies clan on many enjoyable holidays. However, in many cases they can appear somewhat mundane.
Faithful, diesel, teutonic transport is available with a restrained thirst, like a vicar’s wife sipping a thimble of sherry once a year after Christmas carols. But sadly this does not sound like a recipe for the emotional interface of unbridled passion.
The German diesel executive car has become the cornerstone of many corporate car park spaces. However, when it comes to the luxury market, there is a somewhat agricultural perception of diesels.
Enter the Jaguar XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 Diesel SWB. At a recent test day, I requested a drive in the XJ Supersports. The specification would cause any petrol-head to salivate. Sadly, no such beauty was available. I relented and thought I would drive the oil-burner to gain a feel of the handling dynamics.
This was fate. A revelation awaited me. I was meant to drive this diesel powered car.
The first thing about the Jaguar XJ is the neoteric, original design. Wind tunnels hone shapes to have low Cd figures but they deprive the public of unique and exciting flourishes of style. The Jaguar XJ oozes style from every angle of its sinewy shape.
The design language of the fine feline brand brings a fresh approach to luxury motor transport.
Jaguar XJ models in the past tended to follow an evolutionary approach showing a clear link between the different generations of the model. The latest XJ, clearly did not follow the safe route of evolution. Jaguar designers courageously, “put it on the line” with the new XJ and the result is simply superb.
The body is available in short wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase (LWB). My test car was the decurtate version. A perfect iteration of the XJ, albeit the commodious long wheelbase would better accommodate my son’s gangly limbs.
The blue sky thinking did not end with the exterior. The interior is a comely place to while away the hours.
Sometimes gifts are exquisitely wrapped but disappoint when the paper and ribbon are cast aside. Not so the XJ. No scrimping has taken place, the bean counters were out of town.
Sumptuous hide envelops the torso. Subtle smells of rich leather reinforce the feeling of prestige.
My test car had carbon-fibre trim. It provided a contemporary juxtaposition to the traditional craft of the trim shop exemplified with the cosseting seats.
The instruments are analogue in form but electronically projected onto a black background within the instrument binnacle. They add to the sense of occasion and appear to inspired by Star Trek. Their functionality has not been abandoned in the pursuit of their beguiling form. The clarity was excellent, imparting data wonderfully.
A self-confessed watch collecting geek, I obsess over details. The gear selector is peerless in its presentation. Start the engine and a cylindrical knob appears from the central console. It reminded me of the Wurlitzer organ which would sprout from beneath the stage in a dance hall. The induction, signaling driving enjoyment was soon to be initiated. It is the small details which delight and encourage loyalty from its fortunate owners.
Turn the key
I say turn the key in a figurative sense as the reality is suitably high-tech and dispenses with boring convention.
Carry the key fob in your pocket and the car “sees” it electronically. Press the stop / start button in the central console and the engine bursts into life. No clattering chat, but a quiet ballad in a hushed tone, destined to soothe as you accumulate miles.
The commodious boot will accommodate your golf clubs or bags of designer clothes for those of us who seek exercise with a credit card in hand.
I sat in the driver’s seat and immediately felt at ease. All the controls have superb tactility, readily falling to hand. The ergonomics are well considered and no doubt will be much appreciated by the high mileage motorist.
The engine is supremely refined, yet offers sprightly performance when the driver wishes to engage the boy racer within. This is the magic of the XJ, a drivetrain capable of quiet enjoyment and yet capable of towering performance when the mood takes you.
The preconceived negativity of a diesel powerplant is nowhere to be found. This is a car which will accelerate from 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, yet sip one gallon of fuel every 40.1 miles on the “combined cycle”.
The ride is simply sublime. It is cosetting for passengers, absorbing the road surface ruts and blemishes typically found on UK roads. German cars are honed on billiard table smooth autobahns, but sadly our council taxes are seldom used to maintain the highways. Jaguar have honed the ride on our tarmac and the results are magnificent.
The usual trade-off for comfort is a loss of manoeuvrability. However, this is where Jaguar have re-written the rule book. Just point the car at your preferred apex and squeeze the throttle and you will be rewarded with millimetric precision.
I drove the XJ Portfolio 3.0 V6 Diesel SWB by default. My preferred chariot was sadly in a car park in Castle Bromwich. However, I am pleased this was the case and I experienced the diesel model. It would have been a shame if I had not sampled its broad range of its talents.
A well-known retailer asks its suppliers “WIBIT”? “Would I buy it?”. I would unreservedly answer in the affirmative.
The only variation I would favour is the long wheel based version, to accommodate my son, whose leviathan dimensions would be better suited to the longer bodied cat.
Finally, I return to my original question. Can diesel be luxury? In the case of this model, I would reply with an emphatic, “Yes”.