Behold the oldest car I have reviewed so far. A 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible. Imagine my surprise when my friend gave me the keys to his old Jaguar, and he said, “Bring it back in one piece!”. The Jaguar XJS, formerly XJ-S, came to fruition in 1975. Touted as a luxury grand tourer, the XJ-S replaced the iconic sports car E-Type. Launched in 1975, the XJ-S did not fare well due to its convenient timing (sarcasm) in the wake of the gas crisis. Despite its competence, the XJ-S was criticized for not living up to the standards set by the E-Type. Then in 1991, the Jaguar redesigned and renamed it XJS.
As far as Jaguars go, this is undeniably classic. It is a paragon of simplicity. The oval headlights and the chrome lined bumper all contribute to its clean appearance. The side profile has a muscular appearance. A bulging character line and flaring fenders contribute to its muscular appearance. The door handles are uniquely designed. The rear is my favorite aspect of the design.The black taillights are classy, and suit this car’s character perfectly. The dual exhausts lend a sporty essence to it. The interior is brightened up with wood trim that nicely blends in with the tan.
To drive, the XJS is capable. It leans quite a bit in corners, but it does cling surprisingly well. For such a big car, it is very responsive. The steering is light enough, and it is precise. It does plow straight ahead when turning at high speeds. The steering does not have much road feel either. But then again, it is not meant to be a race car. Its purpose is to be a luxury car. The ride quality is superb. It is supremely comfortable, and it cossets the passengers from road imperfections well. My only gripe with the suspension is that it clangs on dips. But then again, this is a twenty year old car. Other than that, it has decent rigidity to it. Braking performance was adequate.
Powered by a 4.0 liter inline six cylinder engine pumping 219 horsepower, acceleration is fairly tepid. It is utterly smooth, but it is slower than what you would expect of a Jaguar. However, torque is spread evenly, so there is always some power left in reserve. The four speed automatic transmission tends to hang onto revs for too long, and it is slow to downshift. With city mpg at 17 and highway mpg at 23, fuel economy is not too bad for a car of this age and size.
I did not have a chance to drive with the top up, so there is no way to assess the refinement. Since it is a Jaguar, it should be very quiet with the top up. The engine is well behaved at low revs, but its engine note is aristocratic and cultured. It literally sounds like a jaguar when you floor it.
Fit and finish is exemplary. Everything is well assembled, and there is a slight opulent feeling to the interior. The driving position is dismal. The steering wheel is either too high or too low. Either way, it blocks your views of the gauges. The ergonomics are flawed. The gear level blocks access to the radio controls. The buttons for the radio are small and tiny and hard to distinguish from another. The front seats are comfortable, although there isn’t that much support when driving in corners. There is no legroom at all in the rear, and it is only there for insurance purposes. The trunk is a decent size. The gauges are crisp and easy to read.
Driving this Jaguar was literally a blast from the past. The focus of cars nowadays rests on the unnecessary frills and not enough on the actual car and driving experience. With this Jaguar, I was able to focus on the car as a whole, and the features it offered never even crossed my mind. It was all about the drive. Yes, while it may be slow compared to modern cars, the inline six cylinder engine is full of character. This car gives the driver and passenger the most luxurious experience it can in a stylish body. Once you go Jaguar, you never go back.