Big cat’s got moves.
Venerated British marque Jaguar has been selling a full-size luxury saloon under the XJ moniker for nearly 50 years now, with every iteration in history representing Jaguar excellence in every respect. However, while every new model brought with it improvements in important areas, style wasn’t really something that faced revolution with each generation, with Jag taking a very evolutionary approach to the subject.
Fast forward to 2010 and the XJ was reborn with a completely new design, radical compared to the 3 generations that preceded it, and effectively relaunched the brand into the large saloon market in a big way. That redesign was spearheaded by Jaguar design boss Ian Callum who felt that, with a steady sales decline through the years, the XJ required a reinvention both in terms of design and perception.
After receiving a facelift earlier this year, it seems that the old assumption that XJ’s were a reserve of nostalgic post-colonialists has been firmly and confidently thrown out the window. With short- and long-wheelbase variants, as well as a myriad of model grades and engines to choose from, we delve into what makes the XJ tick and suss out what might be the best big cat for you.
“The low-arcing roofline and aggressive frontal treatment give the low and sleek XJ a ‘ready to pounce’ look.” - CarsGuide
When the Jaguar XJ first debuted in 2010, the rest of the world was only just really getting to grips with the idea that a limousine could also look dynamic. Its sleek, well-proportioned design was a welcomed breath of fresh air when it arrived, and after undergoing a mid-life facelift, it still looks as contemporary as ever.
The headlights and taillights now incorporate more noticeable ‘J’ elements to them (just in case you were worried other drivers wouldn’t recognise you going by), while the front fascia received a minor going-over to make it that little more aggressive.
While cars like the BMW 7-Series (in M-Sport guise) and the Audi A8 can look a tad overboard, the XJ balances its aggression and elegance rather well.
Engine & Drivetrain
“There are three engines to choose from…” - WhatCar?
The Jaguar XJ, being a limousine, offers only the most fitting engines, starting with a V6.
The supercharged V6 petrol makes a decent 250kW and 450Nm, providing pretty rapid progress, with the supercharger doing well to provide torque and thrust when needed (but you’ll hear precious little of it from the cabin). This will likely be the motor of choice for predominantly urban drivers, with the lightweight construction of the engine itself doing wonders for the driving experience. This engine consumes a claimed 9.1L/100km on the combined cycle.
If you and your limousine do plenty of miles then perhaps the V6 diesel might be a better fit. Smooth and refined, the oiler puts out a considerable 221kW and 700Nm, which is more than capable of maintaining motorway speeds and dealing with plebians you might wish to overtake. And proof that you can have your cake and eat it? This motor claims to consume just 6.1L/100km on the combined cycle, meaning that performance doesn’t necessarily come with a trade off.
If 6-cylinders doesn’t do it for you, fret not. The XJ can be had with a bonkers petrol V8, which can be had in either 375kW/625Nm or 423kW/700Nm states of tune, though the latter is reserved for the XJR575. The lesser engine consumes 11.1L/100km on the combined cycle, and gives the XJ the ability to simply leap across distances as if they were never there.
All engines are mated to an excellent 8-speed automatic gearbox, sending power to the rear wheels.
“The XJ’s cabin is stunning.” - Autocar
Stepping inside the XJ, the first thing you’ll notice is an unbroken ring that encapsulates occupants. This is referred to as the ‘Riva hoop,’ and helps to helm passengers in and provides a sense of being cocooned. The seats are incredibly comfortable and immensely pretty to look at, and they provide pretty good support while on the move. The rear is commodious enough for two passengers, and maybe three at a push, but you have to remember that this is an uber-saloon above all else. A third passenger in the rear is a little undignified, no?
The boot is pretty large no matter how you cut it, and access is surprisingly alright despite the swoopy roofline.
Behind the Wheel
“Sharp steering and agile chassis makes XJ the best limo to drive, but that also means it's firmer on the road than rivals.” - AutoExpress
As far as driving pleasure is concerned, there is nothing out there that can hold a candle to the Jaguar XJ. It’s connected, communicative, agile and light, and makes minced meat of back roads. If you thought that only BMWs were able to shrink around you, the Jaguar will beg you to differ.
It’s amazingly precise and alive, the Jaguar XJ, and it’s entirely capable of delivering you to your destination with a grin across your face. However, there are some compromises that have been made to deliver this degree of driveability.
Find yourself on a less-than-perfect road surface, and you’ll discover that while it’s far from uncomfortable, the Jaguar XJ doesn’t quite waft along the way its competitors do. Further, there’s a tad more noise intrusion from both the engine as well as from the outside world than you might be accustomed to, particularly if you’d stepped out of the whisper-quiet Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, those are small prices to pay for what is the most engaging limousine on the market.
Safety & Technology
“It’s a high-tech place to be, more so with the latest facelift.” - TopGear UK
The Jaguar XJ comes as standard with the marque’s ‘InControl Touch’ system, that incorporates a 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, replete with satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, and Bluetooth. Further, you can download an app to your phone that allows you control things like the navigation, and even remote-start the car. That’s pretty cool, no? Admittedly, the InControl system lacks the polish and visual verve of systems from BMW, but it’s far from the worst in the class.
Equipment is actually well catered for across the range. Parking sensors, quad-zone climate control, leather upholstery… the list goes on. Safety is looked after too, with things like brake assistance, lane-departure warning, and six-airbags available as standard. Add on to your XJ and you can have niceties like blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Jaguar XJ isn’t a mainstream choice in this segment, though it’s hardly a loss. Jaguars have traditionally been a left-of-centre choice, and the XJ fits that bill to a point. It’s a breathtakingly-pretty, well-equipped, and blindingly-fast super-saloon, with all the tech you’d expect to see from something so modern as well as a sense of real occasion (something that Jag’s have always been rather good at).
And the ace up the XJ’s sleeve has to be its driveability. Without a shadow of doubt, the driving experience in the XJ is miles ahead of the competition, offering a truly involving and giggle-inducing experience, something that’s been missing from the full-size saloon class for some time. Sure, it means a slightly compromised ride, but that’s an argument over such small margins that it’s hardly even worth mentioning.
There’s a cheekiness about the XJ too, as if its character thumbs its nose up at the decidedly German establishment with its stoic and humourless contenders. Where a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Audi A8 functions like a butler catering to your travel needs, the XJ is more of a friend, one that’s always up to give you a truly memorable time.
TopGear UK - 7.0/10 - “Who needs a Bentley? It may not have the S-Class’ brilliance, but the big Jag has character in spades.”
Autocar - 4.5/5.0 - “The depth of talent the XJ offers is impressive. It’s a car that’s almost in a class of its own, but one that feels every inch the modern Jaguar.”
WhatCar? - 3.0/5.0 - “The Jaguar XJ is the driver’s choice among luxury saloons. However, it could be more spacious, and the cabin quality trails its rivals.”
AutoExpress - 4.0/5.0 - “With elegant styling and superb performance, the Jaguar XJ confidently rivals German luxury models.”
Kelly Blue Book - 9.3/10 - “If you’re bored by your buddy’s BMW and your brother-in-law’s Benz, you’ll like the Jaguar XJ. Large and luxurious, remarkable agile, and fun to drive. The supercharged V6 is no slouch, but the big V8’s thrust is intoxicating.”
CarsGuide - 8.0/10 - “Jaguar has taken too long to make its midlife revamp to the XJ large sedan — about six years — but it’s been busy building a raft of completely new cars. The stylish XJ has dropped off many buyers’ radar but the update should bring it front and centre.”