A few months ago, my BMW 740 had the motoring equivalent of a heart attack on the M40.
A few months ago, my BMW 740 had the motoring equivalent of a heart attack on the M40. Needing a way to get between Shropshire and London whilst my garage attempted to source a new engine for my BMW, Jaguar lent me a new silver supercharged 2008 XKR, probably the only GT sports car that can give the Maserati Quattroporte or GranTurisimo a serious run for its money.
Or at least that is the claim. But it is really true? Can a car designed in Coventry, formerly owned by Ford and now owned by Indian industrial conglomerate Tata really compete with the purist beauty of a Maserati?
I don’t know what the Jaguar factory is like in Coventry; but I do pass quite near it on a regular basis on my way to London. What I can say after driving the XKR for the last month is that I sincerely hope that the government does help Jaguar with a large business loan because finally they have got a car right.
The XKR is a car that not only really flies but is a beautifully stylised Jaguar car that – finally – can take on the foreign GT competition and come out on top. I don’t believe in bailouts for companies – such as the big American auto firms – that are simply producing cars that nobody really wants any more.
There is no point in throwing good money after bad for gas-guzzling monstrosities with all the cornering ability of an arthritic rhino. However, I do believe in investing in a company when it has successfully restored (just like Maserati have done themselves in Italy, partly thanks to a bailout through government owned Fiat) a once great car marque to its former glory.
Back in the 1980s, my father used to drive a convertible XJS. He still has it, parked outside a barn at home in the country. To show how far Jaguar have come in the last twenty years, I parked the new XKR beside it. It hasn’t been driven for about ten years and is now a rusted wreck but he keeps it in the dim hope one day of having it restored.
When he was at Oxford back in the fifties, his first car was a Jaguar SP 250. He still says it is the best sports car he has ever driven, or owned, coming a close second to his beloved Jensen FF convertible (the Audi R8 of its day) that he had before the Jaguar XJS.
That’s the thing about Jaguar – it does have this completely fanatical loyal customer base. People like my father never bought Jaguar because it is ‘British’. They bought their cars because they were the fastest, the sleekest, the best.
This article has been edited to reflect readers' comments.