1989 Jaguar Sovereign XJ40 Saloon
|Engine||In-line 6-cylinder, 3590cc|
Jaguar’s long awaited replacement for the much-loved XJ series was finally announced to the public in 1986 following an exhaustive development period. Codenamed the XJ40, the new XJ saw the venerable XK engine finally retired after almost four decades of incredible service, replaced by a new generation of engines featuring twin-overhead camshafts, four valves-per-cylinder technology and electronic fuel injection. Dubbed the AJ6, Jaguar’s latest range of engines were capable of delivering more power along with fuel economy and two versions were initially announced, a 2.9-litre and 3.6-litre. Buyers could choose between a Getrag five-speed manual gearbox or the optional ZF automatic transmission (with a distinctive J-gate lever providing the driver with a degree of manual control). The larger of the two engines developed 221 bhp at 5000 rpm, pushing the XJ6 to a top speed of 137 mph with acceleration to match. Under the direction of Lofty England and Bob Knight the XJ40’s handsome styling saw the XJ’s curves successfully translated the into a more modern, contemporary look, with sharper edges and better aerodynamics. Under the skin there was an entirely new independent rear suspension set-up and improved brakes (with ABS standard on Sovereign and Daimler models). Inside, the new Jaguar was beautifully finished and a big improvement in terms of space over the earlier XJ6s, along with every feature one might expect to find in a luxury sedan of the era. The new Jaguar received an excellent reception from the motoring press, with Autocar magazine praising the “near magical ride/handling compromise”, while Motor said “It handles better than an S-Class Merc yet rides more smoothly and quietly than a Rolls-Royce”. Hugely expensive when new (the list price on a 3.6 Sovereign in 1988 cost in excess of $100,000) XJ40 models are yet to move into classic territory and now is certainly a great time to buy one these cars – with robust mechanicals and numerous specialists in Australia to look after them, the Jaguar offers luxury motoring at a very affordable price.