I had been driving the same Nissan Pulsar for 16 years since I'd left uni’, and then started working and completing post-grad’ studies that would bore any normal human to death. After receiving a few promotions, my wife convinced me that it was finally time to upgrade my car. I had originally started looking at a Subaru Liberty. It seemed like the sensible choice. The Mrs had other ideas – all her life she wanted a Jag’ as a symbol that she had finally made it in life (or married the right guy).
As much as I loved my wife, I was not going to buy a car without completing adequate research. I was pleased to find out:
• Ford owned Jaguar at the time the car was made and invested heavily into updating the tired old factory and improving reliability,
• It was designed by Ian Callum, who designed a few other masterpieces like the DB9, Vantage, F-Type and F-Pace.
• The gearbox is a ZF eight-speed. Enough said.
• The engine originally came from the Ford parts bin after many years of reliable service. Jaguar took the engine and modified it with a focus on retaining reliability while improving performance. Job done.
Love at First Sight
As mentioned above, this car purchase came with a fair bit of emotion and hesitation. Now that I have had it for a few years, I am even more in love with it than the first day I set eyes on it (Does that sound right? It's just a hunk of gorgeous metal and sumptuous leather after all). I did the test drive with a friend who was used to Mercs. His first impression was "Wow! That is really nice". I drove it for the first time with my heart in my mouth, and after two minutes I was enamoured.
I do a 40km round trip to work and back in a mix of open road and grinding traffic. The car has held up just fine. It's difficult to avoid the temptation of giving it a little because 60km/h feels so slow in this thing. I love the way it sits flat in corners and grips to the road on Bridgestone Potenza RE003 Adrenaline tyres.
There are two driving modes of Drive and Sport. In regular drive mode, the suspension is supple and suited to busy pockmarked roads. Changing over to Sport mode angries up the blood and the transmission holds onto revs before changing gears. The suspension is firmer and steering more direct. It feels like having one car with two personalities. One is a mild-mannered accountant, and the other is a mild-mannered accountant at tax time.
There are moments when I wish it had more power, because it can certainly handle a lot more than the 2.2-litre delivers. Given the insanity of Sydney's speed rules, I would have certainly lost my licence if I did have the larger engine.
I get a yearly service from my local mechanic for $300 every 8–9 months. Nothing has gone wrong with it since. He does tell me how he enjoyed driving it around to make sure it ‘felt right’ after the service. I don’t mind this at all, and let people drive the car to experience the same joy I feel.
As you can tell, I work in a field where decisions are made using the head and not the heart. Buying a car from a maker with questionable reliability made no sense at all. My friends, family and colleagues were all gobsmacked when I rocked up in a Jag’. Over the years I have been telling them how wonderful the car is, and show copies of service bills as evidence of how far Jaguar has come in terms of quality and reliability.
If I won Lotto tomorrow, I would buy a 2012 Jaguar XJ with the three-litre diesel for the daily grind and a brand-new F-Type with a petrol V8 for weekends.
Disclosure: Contrary to popular stereotypes of Jaguar drivers, I am under 50 years of age and do not smoke a pipe while lounging in a leather chair or wear sports coats with elbow patches.