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Jaguar XJ, VW Phaeton in the test: one sweeps, the other hovers

Karl-Heinz Augustin
Jaguar XJ 3.0 D and VW Phaeton V6 TDI in the test
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U on the way the new version of the VW Phaeton you can experience something. The tester's village neighbor gambled away his credibility as a car specialist with the friendly remark: 'A beautiful car, the Passat.' The German man, when he dreams of the luxury car, has Audi, BMW and Mercedes in his brain.

The most expensive sedan from Volkswagen, although on the market for over eight years, has remained rather exotic. Perhaps not just because of their pragmatic appearance, but because cars in this class have no tradition at Volkswagen. 'The car', as VW is currently promoting its products, is the Golf and not necessarily the VW Phaeton. One of the most respected technicians of our time is behind the luxury VW: Ferdinand Piëch, who invented the 1,001 PS Bugatti sports car for people in his own credit class.

VW Phateon with high processing quality

Even with the VW Phaeton, only the best was good enough for him - the result was an unusually carefully assembled limousine that was not spared. You only have to look at the trunk hinges carved out of solid aluminum or realize that the VW Phaeton is the heavyweight in the luxury class with 2.2 tons. With a luxury car tradition that has been around for decades, things are not necessarily easier in the Audi-BMW-Mercedes region.

A Jaguar XJ also remains an exotic guest on Germany's roads. It doesn't help if the British throw the long and loving care of a classic William Lyons design overboard and the splendor of the polished root wood right afterwards. After all, in the most famous Jaguar, the E-Type, only the steering wheel rim was made of wood.

The radical reversal of the Jaguar style presented by today's Jaguar XJ also leads to results that are not limited to First of all, confuse traditionalists. The round instruments now appear as a strongly pixelated screen display, surrounded by an artificially mirrored chrome edge. Such modernity comes about when you let computer designers run on a long leash. On the other hand, the rotary knob for the automatic transmission remains a stylistic gag that the driver can cope with, but which also shows no advantage over conventional solutions.

Better clarity in the sober VWPhaeton

When you take a seat in the VW Phaeton, you almost feel like you are in a bygone world. Objective, almost sober design, plus an abundance of classic round instruments like the ones we had in the thirties. The style of the interior reveals that a few years have passed since the design, but this is not a disadvantage in terms of ergonomics. The fact that the clarity in the VW Phaeton is far better than in the stylish Jaguar and that you can enjoy a more airy feeling of space, not least thanks to the larger window areas, are further advantages of a body that has never wanted to be fashionable.

The differences will be even bigger when the two start moving. The young, light heart said goodbye to the feline suppleness that distinguished the grandfathers of the XJ. Because dynamism is the golden calf of modern times, and the Jaguar pays homage to it not only with the undoubtedly praiseworthy aluminum lightweight construction of its body, but also with a deliberately tightly tuned chassis. It is easy to steer, reacts with the spontaneity of a sports car and is able to sweep around corners like one. But the response and the absorption capacity of the suspension went over the Wupper, especially over small bumps in the floor its suspension stumbles in a way that is not appropriate for a luxury sedan.

The VW Phaeton is alien to such active driving ambitions, it feels more sedate and has a more sedating effect on its driver. In the dynamic tests he has no chance against the sporty Brit, but that does not harm his driving safety. When the road is slippery, the VW Phaeton can even boast a big plus for itself with its standard all-wheel drive - it still drives as if on rails when the Jaguar is already fighting for traction with its extra thick rear wheels.

Phaeton engine has little to oppose the Jaguar

But above all: In terms of suspension comfort, the VW Phaeton is one of the best cars in the World, quite comparable to the much younger S-Class from Mercedes. It degrades the condition of the road to insignificance, the driving feeling of floating along forms its all other outstanding characteristic feature.

The fact that time does not stand still is primarily documented by the engine of the VW Phaeton - a three-liter diesel -V6. It runs quietly and cultivated, but has little to oppose the more modern machine of the Jaguar XJ in terms of power delivery. It develops significantly more torque and power from a comparable displacement, which is not least due to the fact that two turbochargers are used here. You pay for the higher performance with a more emphatic, if not annoying, engine noise penetrating the interior. And gets performance that is a whole class above thatof the VW Phaeton. Of course, the weight also plays a major role here - it ultimately also ensures that the Jaguar can provide full engine power even with lower consumption.

Even if the serious differences in the measured values ​​are not in practice play a decisive role, the Jaguar XJ distinguishes itself with its driving characteristics as a sports car in a limousine dress that aims to appeal to dynamic customers, while the VW Phaeton is more likely to appeal to the established vintages. Despite its superior motor skills, the Jaguar did not succeed in relegating the Phaeton to the places in the points race. Especially since it is also significantly more expensive than the VW Phaeton, which emerges from the race as the winner and proves that it has held up surprisingly well in our fast-moving car world.

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