By Nick Jones
The Britishness of the Jaguar has always been one of our proudest achievements.
Like the pomp and ceremony of a Royal wedding, you just knew it was going to be sublime with everything you asked of it.
Historically, Jaguar simply does, and does well.
The Big Cats of old reeked of cigar smoke, walnut and leather (I’m on about used ones at this point) and somehow that just felt right.
Nowadays of course, they have moved on, with the introduction of the brilliant XF which even now continues to win awards.
And then we got the new XJ which I’ve recently tested.
There are not that many on our roads yet, which is rather nice when you drive one – it gives a feeling of exclusivity.
But don’t let the rarity of this Cat give you the impression there’s anything wrong with it – far from it.
After a week with the 3.0-litre diesel Portfolio SWB version I confess it was one of not many cars for which I really wanted to refuse to hand back the keys to the collecting driver from Coventry.
Today’s version breaks Jaguar tradition – it’s both modern and very svelte and it revels in its modernity where others have felt, shall we say, ‘stuck’ in the past.
In many respects it looks like the XF from the front, but a little beefier and at the back.
In short, one could be forgiven for thinking one was looking at a futuristic concept.
My diesel version stirred 275 horses at 4,000rpm, with a limited top speed of 155mph, and 0-60 taking six seconds dead.
The torque figure of 600Nm looks like a typing error but isn’t; nor is the fact that the XJ produces just 184g/km and has fuel returns in the region of 40 miles to the gallon.
So it’s quick yes, and it’s frugal too, but what’s best is its refinement.
You barely notice the engine noise at all. And when you open the taps it remains barely audible, just like a Jag should be.
The emphasis is quite clearly on comfort and that is easily achieved.
My test car (I would like to think of it as mine...) had the Jet trim inside and it suited the car perfectly; no bumps or bangs, squeaks or rattles in there, no sir.
You can have standard wheelbase, as was mine, or you can go for the LWB, the latter a full 12cm longer for the rear seat passengers.
And whichever trim you opt for, much is made of standard equipment and not a long options list to choose from, save for a DAB radio, adaptive cruise control and the like – things I don’t feel are immediately necessary.
The cabin is modern and very impressive, the dash is angled away from the driver to produce a roomier feel and all the buttons and bits are edged in chrome.
There is an 8in touch-screen monitor through which all the majority of functions are controlled, much better indeed than fiddling around like you do in an Audi or a BMW with their complex info systems.
Against the might of the German competition, the Jaguar falls about right price-wise when you compare like-for-like.
I can hear some of you now saying paying £55,000 (the entry-level) for a diesel Jaguar, you must be mad. But are you? I don’t think so
This whisper-quiet, frugal yet potent diesel is the way forward. It’s just whether or not you want a Jag on the drive. I do.