From the August 1986 problem of Automobile and Driver.
Eleven years have handed since Jaguar’s final E-type two-seater ragtops had been imported into this nation. England’s well-known maker of luxurious sports activities automobiles and sumptuous sedans has since made do with metal roofs, and the grand-touring world has been the poorer.
A method or one other, ragtop Jags by no means shorted you on emotion. Even within the midst of mechanical and electrical travails, they left you eager for quick nights and sunny days. Now comes the XJ-SC Cabriolet, a worthy addition to the lengthy if sporadic line of open-air cats from Coventry.
Cease at a light-weight within the XJ-SC and other people grin, whoop, and holler, “Hey, that is a fantastic automobile!” When the roof is up, we agree. Surprisingly, although, onlookers often blurt compliments even when the highest’s panels and flaps are stowed away. Swivel two levers and the 2 canvas-covered, pop-off roof panels will unlatch and slip out, to be neatly pouched within the deep trunk. To decrease the rear part of the roof, unlatch its spherical lock from the infacet, peel the Velcro-fastened edges of the material away from its framework, and fold the material and the plastic window down, snapping them beneath a cosy boot. Unthankfully, you are actually left with an array of roof hoops rising starkly bare above the swoop of the decrease physique. (Pausing to alter lenses, Aaron Kiley gazed on the framework and mused, “It seems to be prefer it’s beneath building.”) The employees consensus is that the XJ-SC seems to be greatest with its toupee in place, but none of us feels actually repelled by its aesthetics when the whole lot is stripped right down to let the skin in. And it does are available in.
Head for the nation for grand touring after on a regular basis life has tethered you for some time and you may really feel the great thing about this hanging gadget as dearly as others see it. Grand touring means various things to completely different individuals, nevertheless it all the time means one thing fantastic. In an XJ-SC, the pleasures of touring grandly are clean and satisfying. Jaguar all the time skips the sharp aggression of such conventional rivals because the six-cylinder BMW coupe and the V-8 coupes from Mercedes and Porsche, to not point out the rowdy soft- and laborious-topped Corvettes. The XJ-SC provides not solely open-air motoring however a really completely different accent on sporting transportation.
Beneath, the standard Jaguar charms and downsides abide. The XJ-SC’s lengthy, suggestive hoodline homes an enormous V-12 engine whose horsepower proves a go well withready match for the motor’s broad-shouldered look. Simply as necessary, although it’s blessed with the bloodlines of its forebears, at present’s XJ could also be exhibiting new indicators of civility and respectability. According to the manufacturing unit, high quality management is vastly improved and nice strides have been made in reliability. Upkeep requirements are decrease than ever. The XJ’s gasoline financial system has by no means been a lot to jot down dwelling about—we’re coping with two tons of excessive efficiency right here—however the Michael Could lean-burn combustion chambers, launched in 1982, do assist advance the reason for effectivity. EPA metropolis financial system holds the fort at 13 mpg, and our personal combined use returned 14 mpg.
Fortunately for Jaguar’s popularity as a professionalducer of street burners, Michael Could’s sculpturing of the V-12’s heads returns way more than improved gasoline financial system. With a whopping 11.5:1 compression ratio burning beneath its single-overhead-cam coronary heart, the 5.3-liter whirs out an effortless 262 horsepower. Working on super-unleaded gasoline, the engine adroitly belies the mass of equipment inside, by no means whimpering on the best way to its spectacular 6500-rpm redline. This V-12 stays the premise of Jaguar’s mid-engined IMSA GTP Batmobile, and each time you step into the throttle laborious sufficient to power an automatic kickdown, you’re reminded why the V-12 represented the last word roadgoing engine for thus a few years.
When manufacturing of the previous ragtop ceased, nevertheless, a few of the marvel went out of Jaguars. We want not have apprehensive, it seems so long as there may be an England, there might be ragtops on the horizon. Ragtops are Nice Britain’s nose-thumbing gesture on the sodden skies that usually sulk there. Logical individuals laboring beneath such murk would by no means fall in love with convertibles, however after all logic and the British are sometimes at odds. Mainly, Brits are tickled pink anytime their beloved ragtops are shut at hand.
Over the previous few years, Individuals have grown happier to have Jag at hand. As is commonly mentioned, a lot of the credit score goes to John Egan, Jaguar’s chairman and chief executive officer, who signed on in 1980 and led the corporate’s resurgence. Gross sales in America alone soared from 3029 automobiles in 1980 to 18,000 in 1984. Publicly owned for the previous two years, Jaguar enjoys continued sales-and-service success within the States. We snapped up greater than half the 1985 professionalduction run of 38,000 automobiles, and the XJ-S coupe has damaged gross sales information right here for 3 years working.
Mechanically, the Cabriolet is an identical to the XJ-S coupe. Structurally, nevertheless, the convertible has been injected with new beef. The roof’s framework homes two substantial metal rods that make a minor contribution to stiffness, however the main beefing comes from a boxed part that takes the place of the coupe’s rear seats. Supposed primarily to offset the torsional stiffness misplaced when the total roof was eradicated, the field wears good-looking carpeting and homes two lockable storage bins. Trimmed with baggage slats and a restraint bar, the field lands able to help any touring instances, haversacks, miniature steamer trunks, or different journeying caboodle carried within the cabin, however definitely not any plus-two passengers. When it comes to their structural contribution, the reinforcements do not fairly make up for the skylights within the roof. The prolonged Jaguar displays a number of shakes and shudders not present in, say, the stubby Porsche 911 Cabriolet, although the Jag is actually removed from the shakiest pop-top round.
We solely want it had been as simple to open up because the others. In our take a look at automobile, the knob meant to launch the framed rear roof section virtually did not: it proved almost impossible to show. And the trim, tight boot stubbornly resisted the snapping-down operation.
Inside, the brand new roofline nips off a little bit of the coupe’s headroom, however consolation appears to endure little, if in any respect. The seat’s lumbar padding has been improved, and the refined shaping of their bolsters delivers higher help than their flatness suggests. Scrumptious-smelling leather-based upholstery, alalthough usually a slippery hindrance to remaining behind the wheel, on this case has sufficient texture to help the bolsters in preserving you in place. The steering wheel can be lined in moderately grippy leather-based, however the rim is just too skinny to supply a genuinely safe grip.
Driver confidence additionally suffers due to the distraction created by the XJ’s scattered management structure. The principle on/off/resume cruise-control button sits obtusely on the console simply behind the shifter, whereas the “set” button is tucked within the lip of the turn-signal lever, far to the left. In one other lapse of logic, the local weather system’s controls are cut up by the radio. Worse, our SC’s air flow fan give up, the oil-pressure gauge threw suits of erratic readings and the roof panels sprang a leak after we take a look ated the climate sealing by working the automobile by means of an automated wash—not good omens for Jaguar’s just lately improved reputation. (Jaguar responds that our take a look at automobile was constructed as a pilot mannequin—though the Cabriolet has been on the U.Okay. marketplace for two years—and that the highest panel ought to match higher in U.S. manufacturing fashions.)
Having grumbled our gripes, a lot of niceties stand out, too. A useful journey pc offers pertinent poop on time, distance, common pace, and gasoline use. And beneath the pc sits the top unit of an Alpine sound system, whose candy musicality, to our ears, ranks excessive amongst at present’s factory-supplied audio techniques. It’s mentioned that the British do not like music, however they just like the noise it makes. You could possibly have fooled us: this technique easily and easily delivers music, not noise. The radio’s structure is sweet, the AM efficiency is healthier than most, and the FM section sounds superb. The cassette participant’s efficiency, with tape recorded on a superb deck from information or compact discs, absolutely caresses the ears. Given the XJ-SC’s lowish wind noise (for a convertible), Jaguar ought to add a CD participant, as a result of plenty of musical element comes by means of with out pressure even at excessive speeds.
We’re speaking 135-mph potential. T00 dangerous the three-speed automated and the tall gearing take the sting out of the V-12 off the road. On this worth class, a four- or five-speed gearbox needs to be aboard to liven issues up. Shifting off is not sluggish, however as our 8.4-second 0-to-60 time suggests, the beast would not bust unfastened till the graceful, long-legged automated lastly lets the revs rise up t0 enterprise.
The massive four-wheel discs, ventilated in entrance, become sturdy factors, easily snubbing this 4016-pound pilgrim’s progress with out fade, although stops from 70 mph require a longish 213 ft. Squeezing down into tight corners from excessive speeds beneath laborious braking creates no fuss no matter. As you feather of the pedal, unloading the nostril, the steering takes up the transition as calmly as heat milk places you to sleep.
Within the harsh mild of skidpad testing, the XJ’s all-independent, coil-sprung suspension and relatively slim wheels and tire restrict roadholding to 0.73 g. However the automobile’s habits in the true world is satisfying sufficient to attraction to the patrons Jaguar has in thoughts. The shift lever seems to be delicate and feels clunky, and the throttle stiffly resists forays into downshift territory, however somehow the lasting impression is that of a basically blissful drivetrain. Some testers, however, really feel it’s too blissful and yearn for a extra emhusiastic response from inside.
The XJ-SC’s dealing with follows British follow in offering mild, benign rack-and-pinion energy steering, plus tire grip that feels extra sporting than that of the standard American luxurious sportster—although not as sporting because the superb chew and agency bump-buffering offered by Germany’s hard-running machines. Alternatively, the Jaguar offers ranges of journey consolation that German engineers categorical little curiosity in supplying, and a level of suspension management that’s uncommon in American-made equipment. Launched by the throttle to do your bidding, the Jag hurls at your senses an orderly world, all veddy British, the V-12’s thunder insistent however distant, pleasantly muted whilst you scissor throughout sweeping corners in a rush. The sensational engine gathers the automobile’s haunches to spew you onto the next straights in nice, lubricious spendings of vitality. When you’ve got the persistence to pay attention for the distant thunder, Jaguar rumbles the language of energy, and you’ll hear it in your bones.
What your gleeful senses complete up might equal the right reply for the high-greenback grand-touring market. The XJ-SC Cabriolet is simply primary sufficient to supply deep thrills, however greater than adequately subtle to cuddle with. Its behavioral envelope will most likely go well with lots of these involved with discovering correct conveyances for his or her golden years of grand touring. So long as their fingers are nonetheless sturdy sufficient to pop the highest, that’s.
As a midway step towards true open-air motoring, the XJ-SC Cabriolet proves two issues: First, main quantities of sunshine could be admitted to the inside of the XJ with out sacrificing any of the automobile’s primary goodness. And second, though the XJ-SC is a noble and thoroughly engineered alternative to a steel-roofed coupe, it is no substitute in any respect for a real convertible.
I am afraid there’s nothing however disappointment within the new XJ-SC for a thrill seeker like myself. Other than Jaguar’s unconventional technique of letting the good outdoor in, time has stood nonetheless for this lowrider.
I’ve lengthy hoped that Jaguar would agency the XJ-S up into an actual sports activities machine, however, alas, that was to not be. The XJ-SC nonetheless makes use of the pillowy suspension settings that make the XJ6 such a pleasureous rider—nevertheless it’s method too unfastened-jointed for a spirited two-seater. Once I name on a tough nook, the physique makes like a yo-yo. No change right here.
Then there’s the mighty V-12, which feels all bottled up on the low finish. It is wanted a superb four-speed automated to set it free for ages.
It has been reported that Jaguar has improved its high quality management. Unluckyly, our take a look at automobile suffered from a balky folding prime, a local weather management that went belly-up, and a foul case of the stalls.
Once I slide right into a low-slung, broad-shouldered V-12 sports activities automobile, I count on a kick within the pants. The XJ-SC could also be superb for rich individuals twenty years my senior, nevertheless it’s far an excessive amount of of a delicateman for me. —Wealthy Ceppos
It is laborious to rationalize a automobile just like the Jaguar XJ-SC. For much much less cash, there are any variety of automobiles that carry out in addition to or higher than this machine. Few, nevertheless, can match the Jag’s individuality and panache.
In a time of look-alike automobile designs, the XJ-SC is a welcome break from the norm. It’s leaner and swoopier than its photographs counsel; at occasions its look is almost unique. After all, as with virtually any unique automobile, one pays a worth for beauty and distinction. The Jag’s seats are restricted of their vary of adjustment and supply little help, lots of its ergonomic options depart a lot to be desired, and our take a look at automobile suffered a number of nagging failures.
In compensation, nevertheless, the XJ-SC provides a clean and powerful engine, easy cruising at any pace, and a journey that’s virtually unsurpassed in suppleness. Add to those virtues the automobile’s good-looking form, and this Jaguar becomes an inviting various for someone who can afford to take pleasure in its distinctive mix of individuality. —Arthur St. Antoine
In case your concept of automotive luxurious is centered on a profligate use of the world’s sources, the Jaguar XJ-SC is the automobile for you. A mid-sixties, full-size American sedan is a mannequin of effectivity compared with the Coventry cat. I can not consider one other two-seater with such a big and large physique. Neither can I recall a automobile that extracts so little performance from such a big and lavishly conceived powerplant.
To make certain, the XJ-SC goes about its enterprise quietly and easily, main one to conclude that passenger comfort was the objective of its extravagant designal. Nevertheless, the absence of such creature comforts as power-adjustable seats and a power-operated roof belies that conclusion. That leaves sheer conspicuous consumption as the primary thrust of this automobile, and that is simply too anachronistic an idea, even for a luxury cruiser, in 1986. —Csaba Csere
1986 Jaguar XJ-SC Cabriolet
Automobile Kind: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible
Base/As Examined: $43,500/$43,500
SOHC V-12, aluminum block and heads, digital gasoline injection
Displacement: 326 in3, 5344 cm3
Energy: 262 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 290 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Suspension, F/R: management arms/trailing arms
Brakes, F/R: 11.1-in vented disc/10.3-in disc
Tires: Pirelli P5
Wheelbase: 102.0 in
Size: 191.7 in
Width: 70.6 in
Peak: 47.8 in
Passenger Quantity: 51 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 16 ft3
Curb Weight: 4016 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 8.4 sec
100 mph: 22.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.3 sec @ 88 mph
120 mph: 39.8 sec
Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec
Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.1 sec
Prime Pace: 135 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 213 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.73 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Noticed: 14 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Metropolis/Freeway: 13/17 mpg