There was a collective gasp of admiration from the world’s motoring press when Jaguar first unveiled its flagship XJ model at Germany’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
Resurgent? Comeback? It was all that and more – the British icon showed the eye-catching XF mid-size sedan was just a foretaste of what was to come with the magnificent XJ.
And – not insignificantly – all of this occurred at the ‘home’ motor show of arch- rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Jaguar XJ Overview
Jaguar’s flagship model is simply gorgeous, a styling masterpiece inside and out. We have previously tested the standard version of the Jaguar XJ but for this week, Jaguar provided the ultimate long wheelbase (LWB) configuration powered by the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel engine.
The Jaguar XJ - despite its contemporary execution - is distinctly British and clearly different in looks and feel compared to its German rivals.
A Jaguar for this generation, the Jaguar XJ is without doubt one of the best cars in the world.
Jaguar XJ Engine
Put simply, the twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel engine is the most powerful Jaguar diesel – ever. With 202kW at 4000 rpm and peak torque of 600Nm from as low as 2,000 rpm the Jaguar XJ eclipses its rival Germans single-turbo six cylinders.
Zero to 100km/h requires just 6.4 seconds – impressive for a vehicle which tips the scales at 2365kgs.
Combined cycle fuel consumption for the diesel LWB we tested is rated at 7.2l/100kms.
Around town or on the freeway, the Jaguar XJ 3.0D LWB is sublimely quiet at all engine speeds and the ratios of the six-speed automatic are nicely spaced for handy acceleration.
Jaguar XJ Interior
Once you’ve recovered from the sensuous exterior of the Jaguar XJ, the shocks continue when you open the doors. Where once Jaguar interiors were likened to rooms in the private clubs of England’s well-to-do, the new XJ ditches that idea and delivers modern, chic sophistication.
In fact, we’re prepared to say the new Jaguar XJ presents the most alluring interior of any luxury sedan we’ve driven.
The beautiful leather, hand-polished wood veneers, glistening chrome highlights – they’re all so well done.
Then there is the technology like the ‘virtual instruments’ and Jaguar’s ‘Drive Selector’ dial which replaces a traditional gear lever.
For audio enthusiasts, there is a glorious Bowers & Wilkins system.
And of course, in the LWB model, the rear seat passengers are magnificently catered for with massive amounts of legroom and their own touch-screen control for the DVD system and individual air-conditioning controls.
For the driver, electronic adjustment of the superb leather-wrapped steering wheel and seat provides a perfect position from which to command this massive vehicle. In fact, we were able to make the Jaguar XJ’s driving position feel downright sporty – appropriate for its high performance driving dynamics.
Jaguar XJ Exterior & Styling
Ian Callum (Jaguar’s Director of Design) and Giles Taylor (Chief Designer of the Jaguar XJ and XK) both told Car Showroom that Jaguar’s chief Mike O’Driscoll gave them almost total freedom in designing the new XJ. That’s unusual for car companies, but Mr O’Driscoll’s faith in his design team has been rewarded with a final product which is far and away the most beautiful vehicle launched in 2010.
That design freedom is evident in the sophisticated, elongated teardrop shape, the use of glass for the roof to provide the required curves and the stunning lines of the rear-end with its exaggerated ‘wrapover’ taillights with their jewel-like lenses.
Same at the front where Jaguar’s hallmark, sporty honeycombe grille has been given a modern interpretation and is centerpiece of a design which highlights substantial sculpturing of the bonnet and bold character lines never previously associated with a Jaguar design.
The LWB version actually enhances the overall shape of the Jaguar XJ and somehow delivers even more substantial on-road presence than the standard version.
We have no doubt history will recall the current Jaguar XJ as one of the all-time classic automotive designs.
Jaguar XJ On The Road
Now we’ve put both the standard and LWB versions of the Jaguar XJ through our test procedures, we’re standing by our view that the driving dynamics of this British Supercar are the best of all the large-size prestige sedans we’ve tested.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop it was easy to forget the Jaguar XJ LWB measures 5247mm and its wheelbase is 3157mm – the stylish Brit just responded so precisely with sharp turn-in, brilliant mid-corner balance and an overall poise which matched the best of the Germans we’ve driven.
And in horse racing parlance, that 3.0-litre turbo-diesel certainly “responds to the whip” in either full auto of when shifting gears manually. In fact, with the nice ratios of the six-speeder and 600Nm under your right foot from as low as 2,000 rpm…manual changes did seem a tad unnecessary.
Equally impressive were the brakes, which remained flawless even after extreme punishment arresting the pace of this 1813kgs luxo sedan.
Back in town the refinement of noise suppression of the Jaguar XJ was the over-riding impression the ‘Big Cat’ left with us. Oh and people did stare as this magnificent look passed by!
Sure the sheer size of the Jaguar XJ was noticeable when negotiating our tight CBD high-rise car park and rear three-quarter visibility was also restricted when parking in the street.
Jaguar XJ Challenges
Currently the Jaguar XJ misses out on some of the latest technology available in the German rivals (such as active lane guidance), but we reckon the first XJ facelift will see Jaguar square that ledger.
Otherwise it’s the shallow boot which sees points deducted (at 520-litres it’s large enough, just not very deep).
Jaguar XJ Verdict
We’ve asked BMW for the latest 7 Series a couple of times but so far haven’t received a set of keys - but even so, the Jaguar XJ rockets into contention for the title of ‘The World’s Best Large Size Prestige Sedan’.
The Big Cat’s good looks are so enchanting, during the week it graced our garage we found ourselves just staring out the window, taking in its curves. Likewise the interior with its combination of sublime luxury and brilliant technology.
And that twin-turbo six cylinder certainly gets the job dome with precision and grace.
Combine all those attributes and compare the Jaguar XJ 3.0D LWB’s $206,800 sticker price…well it’s an alluring package.
Jaguar XJ The Competition
Mercedes-Benz S-Class’ most obvious rival is the S350CDI priced at $217,800. Benz’ 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel doesn’t match the output of twin-turbo V6 in the Jaguar XJ. The S-Class is getting towards the end of its current model life but its most recent facelift delivered lots of extra goodies.
BMW offers just one diesel version of its brilliant 7 Series – the $198,800 entry-level 730d – a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel which like its German rival doesn’t match the output of the Jaguar XJ.
Audi’s upcoming A8L will be offered with two turbo-diesel engines – the most directly comparable, the 3.0-litre V6, is also shy of the Jaguar XJ with its 202kW/600Nm. Audi Australia has not as yet announced pricing for the A8L.
Jaguar XJ Likes:
Stunning looks inside and out; brilliant driving dynamics; value
Jaguar XJ Dislikes: