Based upon the best selling 3.2 litre version of the hugely successful XJ series saloons the newly launched Executive model is aimed firmly at those business drivers who like to drive themselves, who enjoy the art of driving, appreciate the finer things in life and wish to travel in the finest of automotive enviroronments - all of which the XJ Executive offers - but still expect to maximise the value for money equation and this last the XJ Executive does equally well being a very fully equipped prestige car at a very competitive price of under 35 grand.

The design of the XJ series is a timeless classic having evolved steadily over many years yet always looking as fresh and graceful as anything on the road and a lot sleeker than much of the rather heavyweight looking opposition. The latest evocations of the timeless XJ shape are sleek, purposeful and powerful and epitomise the best of British motoring such that Jaguar, under the enlightened ownership of Ford and the dynamic chairmanship of Nick Scheele, are undergoing something of a renaissance with a dramatic re-entry into the US market and a great improvement in sales world-wide with the very special qualities that Jaguars have being once again appreciated and sought after.

The 3.2 litre, all aluminium, twin cam, AJ16, engine is a hugely powerful and absolutely tireless 6 cylinder with 216 bhp and 232 lbs/feet of torque so performance is pretty vivid at

0-60 in under 9 seconds and top speed of 139 mph but, more importantly, the torque also provides good mid range punch for rapid and safe overtaking and lower revs when motorway cruising so the Jaguar's legendary reputation for cabin calm and refinement is well met in this car which is near silent at motorway speeds.

Power delivery is effortless and seamless with only a slight growl to indicate the degree of urgency being commanded by the driver's right foot. This wonderful engine is mated to a 4 speed automatic gearbox which shifts almost imperceptibly no matter how hard it is being used.

The Executive's trim and equipment specification is first class with a superbly appointed cabin with massive amounts of head and leg room, sports seats, leather seat facings, a wood and leather steering wheel and wood gearshift knob. This superb driving environment features clear, classic, dials, adjustable steering column and electrically adjustable drivers seat, remote central locking, a remote security system, climate control, ABS, trip computer, dual airbags, an excellent 8 speaker stereo, power windows and mirrors and front foglamps

The XJ Executive's suspension setup seems also tailored to the more exacting owner driver being  low riding with low profile tyres and a fairly stiff suspension which combines an excellent ride as ever with superb handling, exhibiting a composure which many other executive saloons lack during high speed cross country runs. The well weighted power steering allows the car to be placed inch perfect with great agility and there are prodigious reserves of grip and minimal roll. The immensely powerful, all disc, braking system has the added benefit of ABS.

Back with a vengeance, the big cats always offered a totally different driving experience to their BMW and Mercedes rivals and the latest XJs continue to provide grace and space with ever more pace. The XJ Executive demonstrates superb engineering and build quality that is the very epitomy of classic English sporting saloons.

First Published 1996 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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