The Jaguar XJ 3.4 Excellent value for money
£4,998. In round figures that is the price charged for the economy-model Jaguar saloon, with manual or automatic transmission. All things considered, it carries on the tradition of wonderfully good value that has always been traditional with the Coventry make, ensured by the past endeavours and good sense of Sir William Lyons, qualities which would not come amiss in Mr. Harold RisingPrice.
The old Jaguar slogan which said that these cars offered “a Special Kind of Motoring that no other car in the world can offer” is perhaps more true today than when it was coined in the late-50s, with competitors such as the big Rover, the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire and the independent-Daimler no longer in production, Jensen in financial trouble, and all the rest of the compatible British top-luxury cars costing much more than this 3.4-litre twin-cam Six from Coventry. Having had recent experience of this lowest form of Jaguar life, I maintain that it would indeed be a greedy business executive or retired tycoon who demands anything better, when seeking a car that blends boardroom comfort with a splendid appearance, adequate all-round performance with exceptional hush (that they should not despise in Crewe) together with a fuel consumption in keeping with present-day thinking. Leaving aside the psychological reasons why some people will buy one make of car hut would not be seen in others. I can sec few reasons for the aforesaid customers to look further than Jaguar, or to spend much more than the £5,000 which buys this great car. Extras such as radio with automatic aerial, rear seatbelts, exterior mirror, etc., add another £200 or so. The XJ 3.4 I tried had the Automatic transmission, which is arranged conventionally and has good kick-down action, although the change out of it seems a trifle delayed, for those with an eye on maximum m.p.g. Brian Sperring and Andrew Whyte have presumably never recovered from my remarks about a long-travel notchy gear change and heavy long-travel clutch on Manual Jaguars, because this model would have been more suited to MOTOR SPORT coverage. But as I prefer correct ratios in the gearbox rather than four speeds augmented by overdrive, I was well satisfied with the Automatic 3.4. It naturally has a some
what heavier fuel thirst than the normal gearbox car, so let me say right away that this came out at exactly 18 m.p.g. of 4-star, over 615 miles of varied (but not Motorway) driving. The Manual model would no doubt better this by two or three m.p.g. On this matter of replenishing, Jaguar’s magnificent straight-six twin-cam engine used to be something of an oil-burner, But this 3.4-litre version needed no oil after more than 1,000 miles.
That is the economy aspect disposed of. As to performance, I would call it adequate for this class of car, in this day and age. Acceleration is excellent and a top speed of 100 m.p.h. comes up quickly enough —prudence and lack of opportunity prevented me extending it further. The long-stroke 83 x 106 mm. engine works at all times well within its capacity and few drivers would habitually take the turbine-like propellant in this mdbile drawing-room to the 5,500 r.p.m. permitted by the tachometer markings. But the real joy of the Jaguar is its extremely quiet manner of progression, under all road conditions. The engine is outstandingly hushed, and so smooth as to make one wonder whether a twelve-cylinder was really necessary. There is very little wind-noise, and road thump has been well muffled, in spite of those reassuringly-grippy special Dunlop SP tyres that put so much low-profile rubber on the road. It is some time since I have driven a modern Rolls-Royce but I doubt if it is any quieter, although I concede that a Silver Shadow has the better level-ride. But the much-less-expensive Jaguar’s suspension is excellent, being taut, thus allowing fast cornering to be enjoyed in this heavy saloon without roll and with unexpected precision, although the irs has no anti-roll bar. The power steering is still quite light, so that one has to get acclimatised to it, but it has been improved and is generally satisfactory. The rack-and-pinion is accurate and the big, slippery wheel asks 3.3 turns, lock-to-lock, with a 38 ft. (in round figures) turning-circle. The all-disc brakes function with commendable progressive power and are delightful to experience, although needing heavy pressure for the more urgent retardation; a pull-out handbrake is located under the facia. Within, all is polished veneered wood, fitted carpets, plush comfort, and well-placed (and illuminated) controls and instruments. Every control is very clearly labelled, the smaller Smiths’ dials read water temperature, batteryvoltage, fuel contents and oil-pressure, and time is kept (with a slight gain) by a neat little Kienzle clock. In place of the one-time row of “fumbly” flick-switches, you now have four big push-buttons on the facia, for fuelchangeover (there being two separate 10-gal lon tanks, a truly excellent Jaguar feature), heating the back window, and putting on the map-reading (and usefully bright) interior lamps. The four Lucas halogen headlamps give a truly excellent beam. The driver’s window-winder was too stiff but madame is well looked after with a big vanity mirror normally lying down out of the way in the
lockable glove locker, which is augmented by a between-front-seats lidded well of just about Rolliflex size. The big seats, very comfortable for most people, are now cloth instead of leather covered and the extra 4 in.-length of this saloon gives ample interior space. The boot’s 17 cu. ft. is long hut shallow; it swallowed all the luggage three persons needed for a weekend away from home. The cold-air ventilation system could give a better flow, and if the boost is used there is a sudden but irri tating noise, from the fastest of the three fans. The back compartment occupants have many
conveniences, like smoker’s fittings, loudspeaker control, arm-rests, etc. duplicated for their benefit, and the car’s interior is upholstered with what looks like leather, the door. cappings being similarly finished, so that too much woodwork is not in evidence. With everyone waiting to do a long roadtest of the new Jaguar XJ-S 1 do not propose to devote any more space to its poor relation, except to say that at under £5,000 the impressively low-built XJ 3.4 represents excellent
value-for-money, is 100 per cent in the luxury Jaguar tradition, and is a credit to the muchmaligned British Motor Industry.—W.B.
BOOK REVIEWS—contd. from page 1251 same car in action, or at a race meeting—two in the case of the “works” racing Austin Sevens. This lifts the book out of the common rut. It also has an historic introduction by the author, pleasing in its range and conciseness, whom we thank for his complimentary reference to the help derived from MOTOR SPORT. Three of the colour plates are the work of the MOTOR SPORT photographic team. We suspect that the study of the P2 Alfa Romeo is of a model car. This little book costs £2.50, or £2.00 if purchased before the end of this year.
Following on the heels, or should it be spine?, of the recently-reviewed full-scale Lamborghini hook, PSI.. of Cambridge have come out with a soft-cover, landscape-shape 128-page, Si in. x 11 in. hook about the early Spyder and competition-model Ferraris. It is in fact one of a series by Dean Batchelor, published in America in Haassner’s Classic Sports Car series. This writer has already done a Ferrari book and two more are promised shortly. With 202 photographs and accompanying text, and a specification sheet for Ferrari models from the 166SC to the 250TRI/61, this will be a publication most Ferrari fans will want. An amusing item is an “Afierword” in which Batchelor tells. °f his attempts at complete accuracy and instructs his readers how to pronounce manY names closely associated with the make of car he writes of. The price here £5.25.
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Matters of Moment, March 1986
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