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Jaguar XJ6 2004 review: snapshot

ISN'T aluminium wonderful: it packages drinks, wraps the lamb roast, insulates roofs, cocoons passengers 13km in the air, helps deodorise armpits and, more recently, styles cars.

Yes, in an effort to reduce weight, prevent corrosion and be a big hitter in the recycling programs, carmakers are embracing aluminium.

First came Audi with the all-alloy chassis-less car – the A8 – and now it's Jaguar's XJ series.

Lightweight aluminium, while not an especially cheap metal, creates a car that is more nimble, more fuel efficient, produces lower emissions and, because it is lighter, can use smaller engines that effectively multiply the benefits already listed in this sentence.

That is why the Jaguar XJ6 – a nameplate back after a long absence – uses a 3-litre V6 and loses little driver appeal compared with its visibly identical and $25,000 dearer V8-engined sister.

Jaguar found the V6 engine in its X-type and S-type models. Incidentally, because Jaguar is owned by Ford, the engine is used in the Mondeo and is similar to the Ford Escape unit.

It's mated to a six-speed automatic that has the optional sequential shift and drives the rear wheels through a well-strung suspension system. On the road, the Jaguar has sparkling acceleration with the smaller engine only showing its size primarily in kick-down situations.

The car initially feels big, though the light steering feel and ample curves beautifully hide its size.

The more you drive the Jag, the smaller it becomes – the mark of good engineering – and the more confident you become in its delightful handling.

It has excellent roadholding and a tenacious grip on even damp roads. On the track, the car displays an ability to maintain its poise and retain an armchair ride comfort despite being flung around the corners.

While ride comfort rates along with the world's best, the driving position takes a bit of getting used to. It's different from its contemporaries because the dashboard and steering wheel are close to the driver and the side windows are relatively narrow.

This intimacy with the cockpit, reminiscent of earlier Jaguars, initially feels cramped, though an average-sized driver can't complain about a lack of seating room.

The Jaguar has a lounge-room feel to its superbly finished interior. It is the only car in its class that contrasts with the clinical decor of the Germans.

Cream leather, varnished walnut and white flocked headliner meet satellite navigation, in-car phone, computer and delicate instruments to create an impressive dashboard.

Despite some hefty opposition in its price bracket, this is one of my favourites. Who needs a V8?

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3.0 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,990 – 28,990 2004 Jaguar XJ6 2004 3.0 Pricing and Specs
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