“They’ll get to you in the end, they always bloody do” exclaims my granddad while majestically wagging a large and powerful finger around. “Women are like terriers son, they grab at the cuff of your shirt and growl and niggle until they finally get what they want,” he continues. “Your grandmother has been on at me for years now, years” his voice now goes all high-pitched and ladylike “ohhh Keith, we don’t need two cars, think of the money you’d save” at this point Keith, my granddad, pretends to totter around in ladies shoes, doing his best impression of his wife, just to ram the point home.
Keith has always loved cars; he religiously reads the Telegraph motoring supplements, swears by Honest John’s opinions and meticulously researches any future purchase he may be making. He’s a hero. Keith has also always insisted on quality when it comes to his buying habits. That’s why you’ll never find him in a pair of M&S corduroy slacks, oh no, they have to be from Golding’s of Newmarket. You’ll never find him in a George at ASDA overcoat, nope, that one’s covered by Barbour. And you’ll definitely never find him blaring Radio 5 Live out of an Argos DAB radio, that particular purchase was a top-of the-range Bang & Olufsen number.
The same lusting for excellence applied to every one of his cars, starting life with massive Daimlers, moving on to more subtle Audi’s (including one rather sexy ruby red Audi Quattro) and settling for S-Type Jags… that was until recently, when my Nan finally made him snap and he went out and bought a Skoda Octavia.
“Bloody woman wouldn’t leave it alone. Constantly going on about how my Jag was too big and that we never used it” he continues. “That’s it for me now, we’re down to one car and it’s a Skoda and I officially have nothing left to look forward to in life”. The words ring home with alarming clarity and I really start to regret turning up to his house in the brand new Jaguar XJL.
The new luxury cruiser from the Big Cat boys is sheer lavishness. It sits at a whopping 5.2 metres long (that’s quite a bit bigger than the average UK parking space) and sports enough high-tech gadgetry to make Steve Jobs green with envy. We’re talking full on massaging seats for those riding in the front, individual heating controls and laptop tables for folk in the rear and a touch-screen centre console that requires a certificate from NASA to operate. The cockpit is swathed in gorgeous, tactile fabrics and clever splashes of mood lighting, while passenger comfort is more than covered with a brilliant Bowers & Wilkins sound system, built-in digital television and Bluetooth headphones so passenger and driver can enjoy two different soundscapes.
“Makes my Skoda look rubbish doesn’t it?” were Keith’s final words as he solemnly shuffled back inside to finish his now lukewarm tea.
£91,000 has been spent wisely with the XJL. Especially when you consider the model I was driving had a 5 Litre supercharged V8 engine stashed under its jumbo jet-sized bonnet. The 0-60 time is a mind boggling 4.7 seconds, made even more brain-baffling considering this beast weighs on the skinny side of two tonnes. Being a new Jaguar, it also features a tasty Dynamic Driving setting and Sport Mode, the former makes the virtual dashboard glow a menacing red, the latter turns the car into a nuclear powered freight train from hell.
The ride is gloriously smooth, even at high speeds, and the engine more than capable of buckling down to perform the odd overtaking manoeuvre (just be aware that it’s like fitting the QE2 down country lanes) but this machine performs best on vast, open stretches of motorway. I found myself constantly gasping at the speedometer and regularly having to ease off the right pedal. One intense conversation with the girlfriend about the massaging seats and I was on the highly illegal side of 120mph without even realising it, the XJL is an Autobahn consumer, munching tarmac like a fat toddler with an insatiable appetite for roads.
So when I asked my granddad if he’d like to take a look around the pinnacle of Jaguar’s luxurious engineering achievements he declined, claiming that he’d like to finish his tea in his comfy chair. Once again my Nan got her own way and through a clever mixture of nagging and pure shouting my granddad was out of his seat and settling into the Jaguar’s front throne.
“It’s lovely isn’t it?” were his first words as he tenderly stroked the leather-bound steering wheel. “Electric seats, carbon fibre trim, paddle-shift gear box” Keith was checking off highlights out loud by this point. The bonnet was popped and we both stared in slack-jawed amazement at the massive mechanical power plant before us. “Makes my Skoda look rubbish doesn’t it?” were Keith’s final words as he solemnly shuffled back inside to finish his now lukewarm tea.
It’s a crying shame when a chap of Keith’s calibre is reduced to a Skoda. A man like Keith deserves the pinnacle of luxury and if I had £91,000 spare you can be sure he’d have a Jaguar XJL sat on his driveway right now… I’d have to get Nan’s permission first mind.
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