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SEE ALSO:Jaguar Buyer's Guide

The new XJ12 luxury sedan carries on the Jaguar tradition of classic styling and craftsmanship as well as excellent driving manners and performance potential.

While the first Jaguar appeared in 1936, it wasn't until after WWII that the company's world- wide fame developed with the introduction of the legendary XK120 roadster. A that time this classic two-seater earned a reputation as the fastest production car in the world. Early Jaguar sedans were more sporty than refined, but starting in the fifties the trend towards luxury began with the Mark VII saloon. Since then Jaguar has continued to develop powerful sports cars and luxurious sedans. Its styling is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Some of the cues found in Jaguar sedans of the sixties are still recognizable in today's models.

Ford acquired Jaguar in 1989, but despite the fears of some automotive purists, few visible changes have been made to its body design or engine manufacture. However, Ford sent its production specialists and technicians to Coventry, England, to successfully streamline manufacturing procedures, reduce the number of parts required in the finished product, and improve quality. With this new discipline has come a new and important slogan, "Let the cars speak for themselves".

Here is what I learned about the XJ12 on a tour of California's scenic coastal State Route 1:

APPEARANCE: Traditional, refined and elegant still describe the XJ12 sedan. Even though it received its last major design revision for the 1988 model year, in 1994 it still bears a strong resemblance to the sedans of 25 years ago. Newly styled alloy road wheels are the major 1994 exterior change. The familiar forward slanting rectangular grille and headlights blend into a long, wide hood. A fair amount of brightwork surrounds all windows, and stainless trim highlights the bodyside and bumpers. The long rear deck lowers to a bright bumper and twin exhaust pipes .

COMFORT: Handcrafted leather and wood trim set the stage for luxury and convenience in the XJ12. Seating is wonderful particularly for long journeys on the motorway, and a surprise awaits in the rear: fold-down walnut burl tray tables. Even first class in the Concorde isn't like this. Pass the Grey Poupon! Practical features include powered windows, locks and mirrors, highly visible analog instruments, a versatile trip computer, a great all-season climate control system, and a complete audio system that accommodates AM and FM radio plus cassette and a programmable six-disc trunk- mounted CD player. The large leather-covered steering wheel easily adjusts for comfortable driving, but the power seats must be set while parked. Trunk and inside storage areas are spacious.

SAFETY: Each XJ sedan is equipped with dual front air bags and three-point seat belts. The steel monocoque body is designed to absorb and channel energy away from the passenger area. Each sedan is equipped with a security system, plus four-wheel disc anti-lock braking.

ROADABILITY: The newest Jaguar continues the tradition of providing the driver and passengers with a first-class ride. Almost as stable as the QE2, with great vision from all seats, both front and rear, it allows one to cruise all day in comfort and style. Its fully independent suspension is engineered to accommodate every type of road surface from American Interstate to British back byway. The speed-rated Pirelli 16-inch tires provide a clue as to its real road potential at a wide variety of road and weather conditions, as do its disc brakes and ABS.

PERFORMANCE: The XJ12 is equipped with a new V-12 all-aluminum engine that produces a very competent and quick 301 horsepower. This powerplant is very quiet and quickly gets up to speed with power to the rear wheels via a smooth shifting automatic transmission. When desired or required, the prominent "J" shifter can be manually adjusted to suit traffic conditions. To assure the owner of top- performance quality every engine is individually hand-assembled, then bench-tested and finally audited to be sure that each "cat" has the power to scat!

CONCLUSIONS: The 1994 Jaguar XJ12 sedan carries on the British tradition of being quietly elegant with many touches of class. It epitomizes the English axiom of valuing high speed handling and stability combined with quick acceleration and well-balanced performance over a wide variety of roads and weather. Further the XJ12 offers first-class elegance combined with practicality to deliver a quiet and comfortable ride no matter the weather or traffic conditions.


	   Base Price              $ 73,200
	   Price As Tested         $ 74,535
	   Engine Type             V-12, sohc - 24 v, efi
	   Engine Size             6.0 liter/366 cid   
	   Horsepower              301 @ 5350
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         336 @ 3750
	   Wheelbase/Length        113"/196"
	   Transmission            four speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             4450
	   Pounds per Horsepower   15
	   Fuel Capacity           23
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (92 oct)
	   Tire                    Pirelli P4000 225/60ZR16
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard       disc/disc
	   Drive Train             front engine/rear drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      14/21/15.6     
	   0 to 60 mph                  7.8 sec           
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.0 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .36