Sleek Jaguar is no old man's car

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 August, 2010, 12:00am

Remember the classic scene in old Western movies - usually the precursor to a hair-raising chase - when the hero leaps aboard his steed, which obligingly rears up on its hind legs before galloping off madly in all directions?

Horses are in short supply in Hong Kong - and there's also a distinct shortage of heroes in the city.

The best substitute is the Jaguar XJ which, from a standing start at the bottom of Clear Water Bay Road, doesn't quite allow its front wheels to leave terra firma.

However, snap the gear knob to sports mode, hit the accelerator and let the games begin.

Just to rewind slightly, Jaguar is worried that its automobiles mainly appeal to older drivers.

Age, of course, is a matter of perspective but, apparently, the sort of man - or possibly woman - who buys a Jag tends to be over 50.

Given Jaguar's legendary all-round excellence, this tends to be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

So you can see the way the marketing gurus think. Put a bit of sex appeal into the XJ and pull in a younger sort of customer, who will theoretically buy once, and then again. However, the new driver is going to need up to HK$2 million in his or her petty cash box.

Each of the new Jaguar series has a five-litre V8 petrol engine, though the Supersport is supercharged, which accounts for it being the most pricey. Both the Portfolio and Premium Luxury XJS carry a more moderate price tag, and all three come with either a long or short wheel-base, and six-speed electronic automatic transmission.

Far from being an old man's car, the new XJ is a fun machine, crammed full of the sort of gadgets that are standard at this level of the auto stratosphere. I didn't even blink when the video screen popped up when I shifted into reverse.

Never mind that the windscreen wipers automatically come on when it starts to rain, or that the headlights realise that you've entered a tunnel, just sitting behind the steering wheel, adjustable of course, feels like stepping into the cockpit of a jet aircraft.

The car combines solid power, solid comfort, and what can only be called a driving experience that is deliciously fluid.

I helmed the Portfolio, and would gladly take a crack at the Premium Luxury and Supersport as well, if time and space so allowed.

Ergonomics, or health and safety, has caused the Jaguar mascot, long a proud feature of the centre of the bonnet, to disappear.

But there's a lot more to look at both inside and out when it comes to the new XJ series - a lot more.