Chalk and Cheese
Last week Rob Jenner and I were offered the chance to take an F-Pace out for the day and as the report below shows it was a step too far for us. We are used to being cosseted by our XJ saloons and when we returned the F-Pace to Lloyd of Kelso and explained our thoughts on the new generation of Jaguars they were surprised to hear that despite the X351 having been launched 7 years ago, neither Rob nor I had ever got around to test driving one, so they offered us a 3 litre diesel for the day to soothe our wounds!
The comparison is much like that of chalk and cheese.
Enter ….. the F-Pace
My taste did not extend to include the F-Pace, so rather than condemn without trial, Rob Jenner and I booked a test drive at our newest Jaguar Main Dealer, Lloyd of Kelso.
We were welcomed by Lloyd Sales Executive, James Turnbull, with tea and biscuits and booking the test drive was no problem at all. The F-Pace is in such high demand that the 3 litre V6 AWD supercharged petrol demonstrator we were hoping to try out had been hurriedly sold to someone who was desperate to procure an F-Pace as soon as possible and took what was available, leaving us no choice but to settle for a 2 litre 4 cylinder turbo charged diesel, which despite promises that we would love it, we somehow doubted!
It was a gorgeous sunny morning in the Scottish Borders when the British Racing Green F-Pace with Light Oyster hide trim was driven onto the forecourt for us ……… first impression?
I love the colour – Brucie re-bodied! (For me, they couldn’t really go wrong with Dark metallic green and cream hide, could they?)
Due to my dis-interest in this car I haven’t studied it at all. I had assumed that it was aimed at the XJ buyer who wanted something more suited to country life, however, I now think the F-Pace is clearly aimed at an entirely different market. The cabin is very modern and practical, it doesn’t waft like an XJ, and it’s elevated stance makes it practical in the country, where an XJ would falter. I had fun taking photos of it in places I wouldn’t venture with an XJ saloon, and returning the F-Pace to the showroom the following day, James reminded me that the F-Pace should not be compared with the XJ saloon. ‘Think of it as an XF on stilts’ he said, ‘and you will not be disappointed.’
I am not convinced by the 2 litre diesel engine though. It is fine as a workhorse, but lacks any sort of refinement. I found it noisy at any speed, there is a noticeable lag between ask and respond, causing a sudden surge forward when the power finally kicks in. Everyone tells me how quick this engine is, but it is not a silky, smooth quick, like I am used to from a Jaguar. I would like to try the 3 litre V6 AWD supercharged petrol to compare the engine options and see if it can win me over to the F-Pace!
Would I buy one?
It wasn’t what I would consider to be a luxury vehicle, and I still question whether it should be wearing a Jaguar badge, but it does appear to be competing well in the SUV market which is something I am unfamiliar with, and I have also been told to judge it against an Audi Q5 and BMW X3 which are direct competitors for this market.
Eventually I expect we will have to replace our X-type 2.5 petrol estate with another practical workhorse, and brand loyalty will probably lead us to a petrol powered F-Pace, but I in the light of today’s experience I won’t be rushing out to buy one until the current supply of roadworthy manual petrol X-type estates have been exhausted!
Jaguar X351 XJ Saloon
Before the X351 arrived on the scene back in 2010 it was already known that it would be radically different from the outgoing X358, but would I like it when it arrived? It is always easy to dismiss new ideas because we are used to the old ways, so I decided not to comment on the X351 until I’d had time to absorb it and get used to it.
Back in 2010 two readers of Xclusively Jaguar News test drove and reported on the new XJ independently, but as time went by and I became increasingly busy I never actually got around to test driving an X351 myself. In the intervening years, both Rob Jenner and myself have driven examples of the XF, XF-RS and F-type, but never the new XJ.
When the opportunity finally arose, we were welcomed back into the showroom at Lloyd of Kelso with more tea and biscuits, and I had a feeling that I was going to be disappointed with the X351 because it was another diesel. Really, I was just going through the motions and had already made up my mind that I wouldn’t like it. James Turnball assured me that I would love it – this was not the 2 litre diesel as fitted to the F-Pace we had tested the week before, but the 3 litre diesel that he had hoped to give us, and which he assured us we would love ….. I was unconvinced and thought that only the supercharged 5 litre version was up to the job, and went to the XJ remembering that James had also been convinced that we would love the 2 litre diesel F-Pace!
Unlike the oversubscribed F-Pace, this poor unloved X351, we were told, never goes out on test drives, as no-one in the Scottish Borders is interested in the XJ saloon – being a country area, the F-Pace is their most popular model.
First impressions ……
As we walked out to the Italian Racing Red, recently introduced ‘R Sport’, parked on the forecourt, this time it was Rob who exclaimed ‘I love the colour!’
I couldn’t dispute it, Italian Racing Red is one of my favourite Jaguar colours – it adds extra wow factor to any Jaguar!
Trimmed in black hide with black ‘veneer’ and Alcantara, the cabin seemed quite dark even with the moon roof, however, it does exude that air of salubriousness associated with any XJ saloon with some subtle touches to remind you that you are in a Jaguar, no less!
First impressions …. Rob drove it first and fell head over heels in love with it before we were even 10 miles in, so I knew then that I would have to fight for my share of the driving! On finally relinquishing the drivers seat , his first comment was ‘Let’s sell everything else and buy one of these – it’s even better than a Maserati!’ (High praise indeed!)
Contrary to the F-Pace, I was very interested in the arrival of the X351 back in 2010 and spent many hours watching various videos, including this one: The road less travelled and so there was a familiarity about climbing into the car for the first time.
I noticed that the Bowers and Wilkins sound system marketed with the original launch of the X351 has now been replaced by a Meridian sound system which is of superb quality and can quite easily drown out any other noise with no distortion of sound, as demonstrated by Mr Jenner and Fleetwood Mac!
Dating back to the launch of Series 1 in 1968, as each generation of XJ was developed we undoubtedly had higher expectations of it, and so far Jaguar have risen to that challenge with improvement to Series 2 and 3, and at risk of upsetting owners of these early cars, it cannot be denied that the XJ40 was technologically a great leap forward, like it or not. I can then personally vouch for the fact that the X300 was an improvement on the XJ40. The X308 was something new, with its V8 unit and the X350 honed this and took another giant leap forward with its aluminium body, further improved upon by the introduction of the X358. The X351 was a bold step into the unknown with its completely restyled body and moved the game on once again, so whatever comes next must be truly phenomenal!
The X351 demonstrates superb handling for such a big car. The X350’s handle very well for their size, but you could almost be forgiven for thinking you were chucking a hatchback around when driving an X351, and yet there is no compromise to comfort and it rides over poor terrain better than its forebears, which is no mean feat, and no slur on any of the older XJ saloons!
The superior handling is presumably integral to the efficiency of this radically new shape, however, the rear view does not look as beautiful or imposing as an old style XJ as it disappears into the distance ahead of you. On the other hand, the front view is awesome – especially as it approaches you from behind on the road and commands that you move out of its way; or parked on your drive where it says ‘Look at me, admire me, remember me!’ (to quote from Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum).
There is a world of difference between the 2 litre and 3 litre diesel engines – the latter was quiet, refined and responsive. The car was silky smooth, very quick and, oh so agile, tucking its nose in on sharp, narrow bends, and taking them in style. It was also more economical than the 2 litre diesel in the F-Pace and although it is clearly a large car with a capacious cabin, it feels completely manageable on winding roads, and with brakes to match performance.
The F-Pace ride had been choppy despite its fat tyres, whereas, the XJ was typically smooth, in spite of large alloys and thin tyres!
And the final test ….. We’ve all been told that if you don’t look back over your shoulder for a last glimpse when leaving your car, then you’re driving the wrong car – and yes, I couldn’t resist a last look over my shoulder as I left the Italian Racing Red R Sport in the car park at Lloyd of Kelso!
Would I buy one?
Rob Jenner is already trawling the internet ….. ’nuff sed!