The all new Jaguar XJ exceeds expectations and establishes a new benchmark for its class. It is a blend of stunning design, intuitive technology and innovative thinking.
Jaguar XJ is available in 3 trims, 3.0 Diesel Luxury, 3.0 V6 Diseal/5.0 V8 Petrol Premium Luxury, 3.0 V6 Diseal/5.0 V8 Petrol Portfolio and 5.0 V8 Petrol Supersport
Awards - XJ 3.0 Diesel V6 Luxury model wins What Car? Green Award for luxury category with the judges saying it is the best green luxury car money can buy.
Jaguar XJ Key features
Category: Luxury Car
Jaguar's rejuvenation continues with the XJ luxury saloon. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the latest version.
Jaguar has discarded the old fuddy-duddy image in recent times but there was still little to prepare us for the arrival of the current generation XJ. This is as bold as Jaguar has been in 40 years and with those looks comes all-aluminium construction, a collection of world-beating engines and a beautifully judged interior. It's been a model that has put Jaguar back amongst the luxury car elite and it's now been improved with lower emissions, more equipment and a supercharged V6 petrol powertrain as an alternative to the 3.0-litre diesel unit that almost all buyers choose.
There are still plenty of people who get that warm fuzzy feeling when they see an old Jag. The brand is entwined in our national psyche with its raffish wood 'n' leather, pipe smoking, sports jacket wearing, Britishness. Of course, all that means nothing whatsoever to luxury car buyers in the US, Europe and beyond, buyers whose purchase decisions make or break Jaguar as a credible global car maker. The famous marque was hamstrung by its own history for too long but today there's a newfound confidence and a forward-looking agenda. Nothing illustrates this more dramatically than the current generation XJ. It's been usefully improved in recent times too, with the addition of a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged 340PS petrol unit to replace the thirsty old 5.0-litre V8. There's also a start stop system to go with the eight-speed auto gearbox, aiming to get emissions down across the range. But the reasons why executives still want this car haven't changed. It exudes dynamic appeal in a way that German rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes struggle to match.
Like it has for some time, the XJ uses all-aluminium construction which sees it tip the scales substantially lighter than steel rivals like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. As long as buyers don't go wild on the options list, it should even come in weighing less than the substantially smaller Jaguar XF. This leads to major advantages in the performance, handling and efficiency departments where an important part of the luxury car battle is fought. The engines arwe borrowed from the XF, so we know that they're largely outstanding. The diesel will inevitably be popular and it's a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that yields 271bhp, with a massive 600Nm of torque thanks to its variable geometry turbos. Petrol-wise, there's now a choice between a freshly developed 340PS supercharged 3.0-litre V6 or a supercharged 510PS 5.0-litre V8. The fully independent suspension is similar to that in the XF but drivers have the option of choosing standard, Dynamic or Winter settings via the JaguarDrive rotary knob that takes the place of a conventional gear lever. These modes adjust the suspension, throttle response, gearshift speeds, stability control settings and the active differential to produce the desired results. The gearbox itself is an electronically-controlled six-speed auto complete with wheel-mounted paddle shifters which sends drive to the rear wheels on all XJ models. Jaguar is intent on this XJ being seen as a real driver's car.
The sinewy lines of the XJ only serve to emphasise its sporting intent. The front end borrows heavily from the XF, the sharply contoured bonnet and the wire mesh grille that juts forward from the plain of the headlights giving it real presence. The car is available in standard or long wheelbase forms, with the longer car gaining 125mm and somehow managing to look even sleeker in profile. The real drama is at the rear, however, where Jaguar has gone for an elegant but bold treatment. The C-pillars are blacked out to look like an extension of the rear screen and the tail lights arch up around the rear haunches into the line of the boot lid. The fins of light within the clusters are meant to resemble a jaguar's claws. The cabin is massively impressive, modern but with the tactility and emotion that isn't always forthcoming in the clinical interiors of German cars. The dash is angled away from the driver to produce a roomier feel and the dials, vents and buttons are dipped in chrome. The control interface is geared around an 8" colour touch screen display that gives clear advantages over controller driven systems like BMW's iDrive. The instruments are perhaps the highlight, or should that be the lack of them? Replacing the conventional cluster of dials is a 12" screen of the kind pilots refer to as a 'glass cockpit'. On to this, a variety of displays are projected, including virtual fuel, speed, temperature and rev-counter gauges. These can be configured or supplemented by additional information according to taste.
Prices for most models sit in the £55,000 to £75,000 bracket and there's a premium of around 3,000 in each case if you want the long wheelbase bodystyle. Trim levels run from Luxury to Premium Luxury and Portfolio, with the Supersport model at the top of the range. Whichever engine you choose, your XJ will come equipped to a level befitting its luxury status. So expect to find leather-trimmed electrically-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, twin glass sunroofs and the touch screen navigation, Bluetooth and voice-controlled entertainment system. Safety-wise, you can expect to find all the latest electronic traction, stability and braking aids, plus airbags springing from every crevice. There's even a spring-loaded bonnet to protect pedestrians at point of impact. Recent enhancements extend to the XJ's award-winning cabin, with a DAB radio now fitted as standard and a hi-tech premium sound system. Teaming up with British audio specialist Meridian, Jaguar engineers have developed a 825W audio set-up. Tested using the most scrupulous audio measurements, the Meridian system boasts significantly lower levels of harmonic distortion - meaning a lower power output is required to achieve the high levels of audio clarity within the vehicle. The top-of-the range 20-speaker 825W system comes as standard on Portfolio and Supersport XJ models, while being offered as an option on other derivatives.
Assuming that you can afford one of these in the first place, you won't necessarily need to be a Captain of Industry to run it. True, the V6 and V8 petrol models are a bit of an indulgence, but the diesel variants that most will want benefit hugely from the lightness of the aluminium construction. To the point of delivering a frankly quite astonishing 47mpg combined cycle return that's on a par with something like a 1.6-litre petrol-powered Peugeot 308 family hatchback. Emissions of 159g/km will be lower than most will expect too, instantly putting this car on the shortlist of business users needing a car that projects the right image but not wanting the Chancellor to abuse them horribly for the privilege. What's more, up to 50% of the body structure is sourced from recycled materials which saves, on average, three tonnes of CO2 per vehicle built. What else? Well insurance (based on 48 to 50 groupings) will inevitably be pricey but those all-important residual values should offer a pleasant surprise. Independent experts EurotaxGlass's say that after three years of ownership, this XJ will out-strip its Audi, BMW and Mercedes rivals, retaining up to 40% of its original value.
There's no doubt that this XJ is an outstanding technical achievement. But then the same can be said of many of its rivals. Where this Jaguar is different though, can be summed up in that one simple but very telling word 'character'. Rather than being merely a larger version of an existing model, this is a stand-alone design in its own right. As a result. it feels special in a way that German rivals struggle to match. More importantly, this car's unique selling points aren't only restricted to the way that it looks. Even if you don't agree with Designer Ian Callum's vision of the future of luxury motoring, you'll have to admit that the cabin is on another level from its rivals, even if it can't quite match them for space. And it offers the kind of involving driving experience you simply wouldn't expect from a car of this size. Bold and ferociously modern, this is a car you can bond with - and a luxury saloon that it's very difficult to ignore.