ALTHOUGH the company has had a less than stable existence since founder Sir William Lyons relinquished the reins in the early ’80s, Jaguars still stir motoring emotions – if not always for the “old” reasons. But since 1968, the flagship model range has been the XJ series, and the first XJ6 – powered by the legendary XK in-line six –was perhaps the last Jaguar that made people wonder how such “grace, space and pace” could be made so relatively affordable. But time moves on, and Jaguar is now part of Ford’s PAG Group, operating at the premium end of the market and trying hard to sustain a reputation that was enhanced by two periods of success in world sports- car racing.

In recent years, the XJ range had become solely V8 powered, but now Jaguar has gone back to its roots and produced a new Jaguar XJ6, this time powered by a modern V6. It may be a surprise to many to learn that this latest series, launched to the world in September 2002 (CAR tested the Super V8 in September 2003), is the seventh generation XJ, and while it carries many styling cues of the now classic original, it is brim-full of technology: the most advanced Jaguar ever, in fact.

Probably the most significant feature is the body, which is made from aluminium but with conventional monocoque construction rather than the spaceframe method adopted by Audi for the A8 and A2. Which is more practical and efficient is a topic for debate…

Whatever. Despite being bigger than its steel-bodied predecessor, and having more equipment, the use of lightweight aluminium has resulted in a car weighing around 200 kg less. But even with the smaller and lighter V6, this XJ still tips the scales just short of 1 700 kg, which represents a substantial amount of alloy, wood and leather for the 3,0-litre engine to haul around. The quad-cam, 24-valve motor is basically the same as that used in the X- and S-Types, tuned to deliver maximum outputs of 175 kW at 6 800 r/min and 300 N.m of torque at a high 4 100. So, yes, it is asking a lot, but the XJ6’s power to weight ratio is actually little different from the more powerful 3,7 V6 Mercedes-Benz S350 and 3,6 V8 BMW 735i.

And to its credit, the Jag’s engine is keen to rev, singing sweetly all the way to the red line, which happens to start at the power peak of 6 800. A six speed ZF auto transmission helps keep the V6 operating in its optimum rev band, and depressing the sport mode button re-programmes the shift points for when some tally-ho is required. Jaguar’s J-gate is not to everyone’s taste, but at least it allows the driver to hang on to any of the top five gears. Against the stopwatch, the Jaguar is no lithe cat, but a 0-100 km/h time of 9,74 seconds (an optimistic 8,1 is claimed), and a top speed of 227 km/h is hardly shabby. But these figures disguise the fact that, in reality, the XJ6 gets up and goes briskly enough.

Being the entry-level model does not mean that the jaguar XJ6 has been stripped of spec. The features list is on par with the standard V8’s, and includes all the expected “club” interior furnishings such as a custom radio/tape/ CD audio system with eight speakers, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, and a telephone (which will be phased out in preference of Bluetooth). There is practically power everything, including adjustment for the pedal box that adds significantly to achieving a really comfortable driving position. In the facia’s hangdown section, numerous buttons border an LED touch screen panel, which is still novel in automotive terms.

Under the skin the technology is no less impressive. All-round wishbone suspension with air springs provides an even more sophisticated ride than that of the original XJ6’s. The computer-controlled adaptive damping provides a composed ride in all conditions – severe jolts are heard rather than felt – and handling is rock steady and benign. Steering remains numb, but it is well weighted. Sound levels are low, adding to the serene nature of the car. Driver aids include dynamic stability control, traction control, and four-channel ABS with emergency brake assist. The park brake is fully electronic.

Test summary

More than half of all Jaguars ever built have been XJ saloons, and we welcome the XJ6 badge back to the fold. We were all seduced by the purring nature of the car, enjoying the refinement it provides as an antidote to the general hurly-burly of everyday traffic. A mixture of timeless elegance and high technology, it offers a temptingly different entrance to grand saloon motoring.

Original article from Car