Bugger it, go out and buy a new Jag. They're not as expensive as you might think

The Jaguar XJ is for the gentleman (or lady) of a certain age - a sensitive subject at my time of life.

He (or she) is probably a company executive who, on the way up, has become accustomed to comfort and the finer things in life.

Employing a driver, he probably never gets behind the wheel, spending his time in the back seat doing what captains of industry do in the rear of their company cars.

In these taxing economic times, those from the big end of town and others need not feel guilty about travelling in this flash car.

This is no million-dollar Maybach or Rolls-Royce. The 3.5 litre Jaguar XJ V8 (the test vehicle) would cost the company $159,990 plus on-road costs.

If times are tough there's always the economical 2.7 litre XJ6D diesel at $154,900 or, if shareholders are on side, the 4.2 litre Super V8 long wheelbase at $234,900, still only a quarter the cost of the ultimate limo.

The 2008 XJ enjoys significant improvements to its interior thanks to extensively redesigned front seats which are standard across the range and offer even more comfort and support. Rear seat passengers can relax with greater leg and foot room following changes to the backs and lower cushions of the front seats. Wall-to-wall leather, it's all very gentlemen's clubby.

On the other hand, business is never far away, an upgraded Bluetooth connectivity system allowing users to hook up to five approved mobile phones to the car's own in-car telephone system.

Oh, gawd! You can run, but you can't hide.

On the outside the XJ has been given a fresh look with an all-new, distinctive design which includes a new bumper with reshaped upper and lower mesh grilles and a new Jaguar Growler badge, giving the 2008 model a purposeful appearance.

Adding to this is the Jaguar Leaper, a bonnet mascot that stands alongside the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstacy and Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star in the automobile lexicon of calling cards.

Adding a further touch of attitude, side power vents match those introduced on the XK sports car and there are lower body sills and a subtle rear aero spoiler.

New door mirrors maintain the automotive fashion with integrated indicator lights, while upgraded alloy wheels add to the saloon's sporting appearance.

The XJ test car rolled on new 19in Polaris alloy wheels — the XJR features 20in Cremona alloys and Super V8 features 20in Calistos.

The Germans are sold, so it seems, the Jaguar XJ winning the annual `Autonis' design award - 16,000 readers can't be wrong - for a luxury car from German car magazine Auto Motor und Sport, ahead of home-grown models from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Under the bonnet was a new engine — a 3.5 litre V8 producing 190kW power and 335Nm of torque.

Other power plants on offer are the highly acclaimed economical 2.7 litre V6 twin-turbo diesel and high performance 291kW 4.2 litre supercharged petrol V8.

A six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth and slick gear changes while handling the high torque of the engine, meaning higher gearing can be incorporated, helping to cut fuel consumption.

When Jaguar's ground-breaking all-aluminium XJ luxury saloon range was launched in 2003, its lightweight body helped the car set new standards in handling, precision and refinement.

The latest aluminium monocoque is even better, being 60 per cent stiffer and 40 per cent lighter than that of the model it replaces.

Every XJ comes with sophisticated safety features such as computer active technology suspension, automatic speed limiter and tyre pressure monitoring system.

An adaptive restraint technology system uses ultrasonic means to calculate appropriate airbag deployment and force, based on passenger weight and position.

Side-curtain airbags, front seat thorax airbags and energy absorbent front seat backrests ensure a safe driving experience for all occupants.

The cabin is an oasis of calm, extensive sound insulation and sealing seeing to that.

It's the perfect ambience for thinking and making decisions . . . even driving.