HIGHWAY STAR

SEP 2010

“WHAT is it?” inquires the well dressed Italian chap, poking his beak in the window after admiring the car for what seems like an uncomfortable period of time.

“It’s Jag’s new XJ,” I reply sophisticated like, as though I own it.

“It’s the most beautiful car I have ever seen,” he gasps, before perusing its sleek black curves from every conceivable angle.

In many ways the Jaguar is the most beautiful motor car to don the famous prestige badge of the leaping cat. Sleek, fast and prowling, it is luxury without compromising street cool.

And forget about the last car you read up on described as a ‘head turner’. The new XJ could just be the inspiration behind an Exorcist remake, a car that completely spins heads.

Cruising through a northern NSW coastal hamlet, locals almost fall off their seats and hot coffee spills into their laps. Kids point with mouths agape and people in general just behave strangely. Why? Because they have never seen anything like it and are not likely to again.

It’s true that driving the XJ makes you feel as though you’re a person of notable ilk. But let’s not turn this into a rambling fantasy Mills & Boon motorcade; I had to return it after all. A rare few however do get to park it in their garage at night - right next to the Doberman.

The new XJ was designed by Ian Callum and is a radical change from the traditional body style – splitting opinion among the conservative Jaguar faithful. But the lines are modern. In some respects, it resembles the XF and its bumble bee butt leaves the impression that you’re driving a coup. The car does not behave like a long wheel base. It’s agile, sporty even and is backed up with an astonishing 283 kW cranked from the grumbling aspirated V8.

Like the XF, it is powered by a number of petrol V6, V8 and diesel V6 engines. The direct-injected AJ-V8s are the headlining acts though with a 283kW naturally-aspirated, 346kW supercharged and a cracking 375kW supercharged V8 on offer.

There is ample leg room, but this car is anything but saloon. More impressive than the 7 Series BMW and a standout against the Mercedes, the XJ has burst on to the showroom floor as the brand’s flagship sedan and the first launch under new owners Tata Motors.

The car also features some impressive technology, including a virtual instrument cluster. The cabin encapsulates with one continuous dash rim that acts like a kind of opulent viewing platform.

An eight-inch LCD touch screen occupies much of the centre stack and forms the interface for climate control, mobile phone and satellite navigation systems. Occupants can also adjust the XJ’s well-appointed audio system, which incorporates hard disk drive storage, a CD/DVD player with stunning surround sound, two USB ports, an auxiliary input for laptops and an optional 1200W Bowers & Wilkins premium stereo.

The new XJ rides on an all-alloy chassis made from 50 per cent recycled aluminium.

Prices tags vary but start at $206,502.00 for the 3.0L diesel standard wheel base; the 5.0L V8 – LWB is $270,251.00; and up to $379,351.00 for the 5.0L V8 Supersport 375kw Super Charged – LWB.

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