Like driving a warm duvet

Try Before You Buy – Jaguar XJS V12 Convertibleby Matt Nichols I’ve had a real on-off love affair with the XJS over the years, a car that feels as though it has been in my life for as long as I’ve been driving cars. At one time I nearly bought a 3.6 coupe, it was a very close run thing, I nearly did but I didn’t. Not long after I saw JC review a V12 on Top Gear and in the show’s usual style apologising to the camera at regular intervals whilst he seemed to pull into every petrol station just to quench its almighty thirst. Fortunately to a greater or lesser extent those days are confined to the history books because the old girl has reached classic status now and can be enjoyed for what it is, a very relaxing weekend Grand Tourer. The XJS these days no longer lives in fear of awkward comparisons being drawn to contemporaries, that back in the day lined up one after the other to try and knock it off of top spot. With personal emotions also safely buried, getting behind the wheel of the Great Escape Cotswolds based XJS V12 Convertible brings one phrase to mind, this car is the finished article. Compare it to an E-Type roadster in terms of say desirability, on a sunny day, and the XJS will lose every single time. But compare it to the same E-Type when the rain comes in or its freezing cold outside and I can guarantee either you or your passenger will willingly jump ship.As iconic as an E-Type is, the roof and heater are in kit-car territory when compared to those fitted to an XJS. I drove both on the same day on the Great Escape – Cotswold Rally and honestly the roof had to go up on the E-Type it was so cold. Whilst sat in the Great Escape Classic Car Hire Jaguar XJS you stay nice and toasty by simply setting the climate control up high which then wraps you in a blanket of warm air travelling up from the footwell. The roof is also electric when you do need to put it up and achieved with just the press of button and not an Engineering Masters Degree in fastener technology. It simply works.Now granted on the move an E-Type has it over the XJS in terms of driving dynamics but again it depends on what you are after from your time with either car. Get out of an E-Type after an hour and you feel you’ve made a new friend. Do the same with the XJS and you hardly feel a thing, as this car wasn’t designed for a short term relationship? No an XJS is expecting you to drive to Scotland or Paris and arrive looking arguably better than when you set off and certainly not running to the nearest bar desperate for a drink just to get over the journey. For that reason I don’t think my brief encounter was long enough because the time whizzed by without incident or unnecessarily dramatic situations. The roof stayed down, we remained comfortable, there was plenty of space, it was easy to drive, I even found time to talk and at no point did the stress levels rise above zero. Next time I’d like a longer go, just to be sure you understand, because for me this XJS V12 Convertible was a refined and relaxing place to be, especially in and amongst high octane alternatives such as the E-Type, Porsche 911 and TVR Tuscan. Verdict Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible Driving There would have to be a blizzard before you thought to put the roof up. A genuine 365 day per year open grand tourer. Engine Jaguar V12 is hidden away behind a velvet cloth in this car, still there if needed though. Performance Max Power: 285 bhp0–60 mph: 7.8 secondsTop speed: 142 mph Brakes Hidden behind the same velvet cloth as the engine. You never have a problem stopping but equally do not feel inclined to examine the size of the calipers. Handling Erm…velvety…! Desirability Growing appreciation of this car now, particularly in light of the fact the chassis was re-used on later XK8 and Aston DB7 models Pro’s Like lying in front of a warm fire wrapped in a thick duvet on a bitter winters evening. Con’s Renting – Too smooth for some maybe.Buying – History, as they say, is everything. Overall 3/5

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