For years now, my main defence when it came to cars was that they are not about money or status or compensating for penis size, but, like people and art, about feelings. I feel different when I'm driving a Range Rover from when I'm driving a Mini, and that is what makes automobiles fascinating for me.
Unfortunately, in recent months, this has become literally the case. I've torn a hamstring, and while I wait for an operation, what I need from a car is not speed or beauty or torque, but simple comfort. And, unfortunately, this was something the ferocious Jaguar XJR struggled to provide.
There was a time I would have adored it without qualification. It is gorgeous to look at - as mean as anything Mercedes or BMW has produced, with its low-profile tyres, four exhausts and blacked-out windows. It produces a rumble that, even through the soundproofed interior, is animalistic and satisfying. It is nimble and sharp despite being the size of an operating theatre. And it is so monstrously fast that there was wheel spin at 20mph, I only dared to try the 'sport' button once, and I stopped parking in tight spaces because of its tendency to bolt away.
Described as the 'ultimate XJ', people have compared it variously to the Mercedes S63 and Maserati Quattroporte V8, but I'd actually compare it to a space shuttle. It has a limited maximum speed of 174mph, but it felt as if it could hit 'warp speed' if not 'infinity'. On top of all this, it is a Jaguar! A British car made by an Indian-owned company in the West Midlands, which has just opened an engine plant in my home town of Wolverhampton.
To dislike this car would be like disapproving of my own mother. But the ride was just too painful. I drove it for more than 1,000 miles and had to get out every hundred or so to pop several painkillers. My test model came with £5,000 of options, not least some 'semi-aniline leather seats with driver's and passenger's electric adjustment (18x18 way)', but what I needed most by the end was a course of steroid injections.
Obviously, much of this is to be blamed on my wonky hip. But my passengers, when not screaming in terror at the speed, also complained of a hard ride, which is not something most people look for in a limo. My advice: get the more sedate, more sensible and entirely flawless XJL.
SPECIFICATION: Jaguar XJR
Engine five-litre V8 supercharged
Transmission eight-speed automatic
Fuel consumption 24.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions 270 g/km
Power 543 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 501 lb/ft @ 2,500 rpm
0-62 mph 4.4 seconds
Top speed 174 mph (limited)