And Jaguar might well do it, once it spreads its range across more mass market segments. But while this re-invention carries on apace in the more prosaic areas of the business, it is good to see that some things never change – the new XJ range for example.
I know it's a boffin's dream with its aluminium body, glued and riveted together and that it is 200kg lighter than the previous one, is 60% stiffer, with uniform shutlines of 3.5mm and adaptive damping with new front and rear suspension. But to an untrained eye, in moving forward it has gone nowhere.
The XJR looks barely any different to the last model, or the XJ that first appeared in1968, for that matter. Jaguar will tell you this is a good thing – it's what its buyers want. That's fine, but it is banking on prospective customers getting older and their tastes changing, preferring to drive around in a British stately home reading room rather than a modernist German boardroom.
The fact is all of the XJR's modernity is hidden just under the skin: more like a mock Tudor mansion than a stately home. It's a bit faster than your average Barratt home though.
The 400bhp supercharged 4.2-litre engine is a wondrous beast, which allied to the excellent ZF six-speed automatic transmission makes for an unremitting blast towards the horizon from any speed. Occupants are pinned in their seats by the same accelerative force if you floor it at 20mph or 70mph.
However, the standard non-blown 4.2-litre engine is remarkably refined and whispery and nothing has changed in the XJR. This means that the supercharger takes sonic precedence and under load the XJR sounds disappointingly like it is being pulled along by sewing machine.
The charred miles of Tarmac behind you are testament to the fact it is not, but a growl from the engine would make the experience all the more historic.
I don't like the Mondeo ignition key either and some of the switchgear and the way information is presented on the screen looks dated against Audi, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz efforts, which are a generation ahead.
Perhaps focusing on the areas where it comes up short is doing the XJR a disservice because it is a glorious car, with leather-soaked opulence inside. It also handles superbly for its length and girth, thanks to the boffinery mentioned earlier. There can be few cars as good as this for covering large distances in both the rate it does it and in the comfort it affords as well.
In its sector, the XJR is easily the most characterful and individual car.
Things aren't what they used to be though and the leviathon SUVs are having an impact on the saloon market. You can now have a car the size of a small house, where you are sitting on the second floor. Now that really is standing out – can the Jag's traditional charm beat that?
Call me a bluff old traditionalist, but of the four cars featured, it has to be the XJR. From a business point of view it has the best running costs by £2,000, while for the driver it has involvement and pace the others cannot match. The Cayenne, S-class and Range Rover are all excellent cars but cannot deliver to both the fleet and the motorist in the same way as the Jaguar.
Jaguar 4.2 XJR V8
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £59,765
CO2 emissions (g/km): 299
BIK % of P11D in 2003/04: 35%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 19
Combined mpg: 23.0
CAP Monitor residual value: £20,950/35%
Depreciation (62.71 pence per mile x 60,000): £37,626
Maintenance (5.16 pence per mile x 60,000): £3,096
Fuel (16.60 pence per mile x 60,000): £9,960
Wholelife cost (84.47 pence per mile x 60,000): £50,682
Typical contract hire rate: £1,180
Three rivals to consider
Jaguar delivers the most car and performance for the money. The Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover have acres of space and interior style while the predictable, safe choice is the S-class. All these cars churn out lots of CO2 and will be in the 35%BIK band for ever. This means massive tax bills. The 40% XJR driver would pay £697 a month, the Cayenne pilot £805. There's no cheap way to run these cars – opting out would see a monthly contract hire rate of more than £1,100.
None of these cars are cheap to service. The Jaguar and Porsche make the smallest dent in the wallet – relatively-speaking – at around £3,000 over three years/60,000 miles. The Mercedes-Benz would cost about £600 more over the same period. By far and away the biggest expense on all the cars will be tyres – barring unforeseen disasters. CAP Monitor reckons the cost of new rubber on the Cayenne would amount to a vast £1,800 over 60,000 miles.
Jaguar 5.16 ppm
Porsche 5.16 ppm
Range Rover 5.33 ppm
Mercedes-Benz 6.00 ppm
Just turning the engine on will start to bring the firm's financial director out in a cold sweat with any of these cars. The XJR and S500 manage around the 23mpg mark on the combined cycle, but it would be easy to lop 10mpg off that with a heavy right foot. The SUVs pay for their bulk – the Cayenne does 17.4 mpg combined and the Range Rover 18.0mpg, which would mean a £12,000-13,000 fuel bill.
Range Rover 21.94ppm
All cars do pretty well on depreciation from a percentage point of view, with CAP putting the XJR and S500 at 35%, the Range Rover at 39% and the Cayenne at 40%. There are statistics though and then there are statistics. The Cayenne would lose a jaw-dropping £41,000 in cash terms after three years/ 60,000 miles, while the Range Rover would do best, losing a measly £37,000. This is depreciation on an epic scale, suiting some epic cars.
Range Rover 61.39ppm
The wholelife cost of these cars matches their stature on the road. The Jaguar, as has been the way in nearly every test we have done of an XJ, comes out best and will rack up a bill over its three years of around £50,000. The Cayenne, always at a disadvantage because of its list price and thirstiness, would cost almost a pound for every mile travelled, which makes for an expensive trip to the local shop. The Range Rover does well, beating the S-class due to stronger residual values.
Range Rover 88.66ppm