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Old 03-06-2003, 09:04   #1 (permalink)
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Jaguar XJ6 3.0 Sport

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Craig Cheetham

It's easy to be cynical about the Jaguar XJ6 as it uses the S-Type's 3.0-litre 240bhp engine to create a new entry-level model. But the firm is adamant that the installation is not just a cheap and easy solution.

Because the new XJ is more than 200kg lighter than the previous 3.2 V8 entry-level model, there is no performance deficit. What's more, thanks to a 60 per cent stiffer bonded and riveted aluminium body, improved build and lower noise levels, Jaguar claims that the newcomer is nearly as refined as its eight-cylinder models, which we drove in last week's issue.

If anything, the 3.0-litre is the best choice in the new line-up as it boasts a respectable combined fuel economy figure of 27mpg, plus lower insurance costs and CO2 ratings. Standard CATS computer active suspension and traction control inspire confidence and help deliver huge levels of grip, especially with the firmer Sport set-up driven here, while the brakes offer excellent stopping power and plenty of feedback.

But it's the steering that's the greatest revelation. It has immediate and predictable responses, which give the big Jag the feel of a much smaller and more agile car, but at no detriment to the superb ride. Among all the luxury cars on sale today, the XJ6 is certainly one of the most driver-oriented.

Performance is not lacking, either, as the Jaguar sprints from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds - two seconds quicker than the entry-level Mercedes S-Class.

Even the cheapest XJ6, which costs £39,000, gets electrically adjustable leather-clad seats, cruise control, climate control, reach-adjustable pedals and a top class sound system, while Sport trim adds figure-hugging seats, tuned suspension and 18-inch alloys.

The XJ isn't as spacious as some rivals, but it now offers more leg and headroom front and rear, plus a larger boot. Jaguar has kept the car's classic silhouette, and while some may be put off by this old style elegance, the newcomer is among the most accomplished executive cars money can buy.
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