The sleeky Jaquar is undoubtedly the "Master of the Road"

By BRENWIN NAIDU

FEW car manufacturers have a heritage as illustrious as Jaguar. Historically, the British automaker has a reputation for producing truly desirable, sleek, sexy vehicles that many aspire to owning. But of course, a Jaguar that isn’t sleek and agile-looking would be a huge misnomer – the cars do, after all, share their name with a wild, swift hunting feline.

For me, the prospect of owning a classic Jaguar is extremely alluring. I recently read an entire eulogy to Jaguar’s iconic beauty, the E-Type in the motoring section of one of our national newspapers – and I was absolutely convinced that I should start saving up, to one day afford my own slice of motoring legend.

The E-Type is a stunning car. I’ve yet to see one in the flesh, but if it looks as amazing as it does in the pictures, then the day I get to run my hand over its curvaceous bodywork will certainly be glorious. Another one of my favourite, classic leaping cat models is the Jaguar XJS. I remember how, as a youngster I cringed during the movie Speed – not because of Sandra Bullock’s acting, but thanks to that particular moment in the first few scenes of the movie, where our protagonist, attempting to catch-up to the bomb-laden bus, gets behind the wheel of a black XJS. The driver’s side door was subsequently swiped out, leaving the owner of the car infuriated, but our hero totally unfazed.

Indeed, Jaguars have been made even more exciting by appearing on the big screen. Sean Connery, starring alongside the sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones, managed to wreck a beautiful Jaguar XKR – in a manner typical of another character rendered by Connery, James Bond. Now while Bond usually gets the keys to cars from Aston Martin – and in past films, BMW and Lotus, I did notice that in the film, Casino Royale, the bad guys were the ones rolling in Jaguars. In this one, Bond, played by Daniel Craig, evaded the pursuit of the villains in their Jaguar XJs. Those who’ve watched it will know the result – Bond lost control, swerving to avoid hitting the damsel in distress, totalling his Aston, becoming a sitting duck for the baddies.

The new XJ saloon is quite a significant change from the previous, in terms of styling. While there seemed to be a more evolutionary approach to design throughout the past XJ models, the latest one appears to be more futuristic in its aesthetics. I say it’s an indication that Jaguar is attempting to appeal to a broader audience, trying to tackle the mainstream competitors in the luxury segment, but still retaining the prominent Jag hallmarks. In the construction of the Jag’s attractive physique, they’ve employed aerospace-inspired aluminium body technology. According to the press release, this gives the XJ a weight cut of at least 150-kilogrammes when stacked up against its competitors.

Those opting for an XJ have an array of engines to choose from. You can have a 3-litre diesel engine, which produces 202-kilowatts and promises a 0-100km/h time of 6.4 seconds. Or, if you’re a real petrolhead who loves power, you can get an XJ with a 5-litre powerplant that has an output of 375-kilowatts, delivering you from 0 to 100km/h in a brisk 4.9 seconds. Of course, there are many engine choices in between too.

When you’re buying a luxury vehicle of this kind, you would want a fair amount of gadgetry, and technological toys to make you feel as though you’re really getting your money’s worth. There are cool touches like the circular control of the JaguarDrive selector that rises up, there’s also an 8-inch touch screen in the centre console, allowing the control of functions such as climate control and navigation.

Then there’s also the Interactive Voice control system: a list of prompts are displayed, to control a particular function by speaking.  The Jaguar XJ also boasts a plethora of safety features, like Anti-lock brakes, Dynamic Stability Control, Emergency Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control and Understeer Control.

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