$198,800 – $367,800
Good: With head turning styling, advanced lightweight underpinnings, stunning interior, excellent choice of engines, frugal yet powerful turbo diesel and brilliant driver dynamics, this may spell a return to class honours for Jaguar.
Not so Good: The polarizing exterior rear design, poor clarity of driver’s digital display and fairly firm ride may count against the Jag.
Design and Engineering
Good: Arriving in Australia in July 2010 the current generation Jaguar XJ represents a big shift for the premium English brand’s flagship sedan. Gone is the previous generation’s unmistakable retro styling, replaced by a truly beautiful, modern, sporty yet still an oh-so elegant design that turns heads like almost no other car.
Our favourite angles are from front three quarters and from side on, the latter showing the stunning sweeping ‘coupe-like’ roofline and the muscular high waistline to full effect. Underneath the gorgeous body panels the XJ continues on with the previous generation model’s industry leading use of modern materials, the extensive use of aluminium and also magnesium, as well as the usual high strength steel, combines to ensure the big XJ is significantly lighter than the competition.
Not so good : The rear pillars on either side of the sloping rear window are finished in a high gloss black, and this touch of design difference has caused much talk amongst the world’s motoring press. Our test team thinks it works well. The rear end styling and especially the tail light design takes some getting used to; however it only takes one look at the rear lights at night to understand the reason behind this change in the big Jag’s styling.
Interior and Styling
Good: This car has an amazing interior that feels more like a half a million dollar Bentley or Rolls Royce than a similar priced S-Class or 7-Series. It’s elegant, stylish, and super special and still manages to retain the uber-luxury feel of traditional British coach building but certainly doesn’t feel old hat. The driving position is excellent, sitting nice and low and the relatively small diameter steering wheel is a joy to hold. The big design talking point inside is the low set dash with a two-inch high panel of burled wood veneer (or in another materials should you desire) that sweeps across the bottom of the windscreen and continues into the front door panels.
The circular design of the air vents is achingly cool, the interior is covered in soft leathers, and the instrument gauge is a high definition 12.3 inch digital display, with graphics in the style of traditional analogue dials. In normal mode the instrumentation is coloured red, select the sports mode and it changes to blue. Fortunately legroom front and rear is an improvement over the previous model and boot space is a big 520 litres.
Not so good : The clarity of the digital driver’s console display unit isn’t up to that in the competing Lexus LS or Mercedes Benz S-Class; the high waistline styling ensures that children in the rear may struggle to get a good view out of the side windows and taller folk might bemoan the rearwards sloping roofline. Not surprisingly, considering the coupe like styling, rear visibility is below average for the class it competes in.
Good: There are four different levels of power and torque to choose from across the wide range of XJ’s on offer. The sole diesel is a 3.0L twin turbo V6 offering a healthy 202kW of power and an even more impressive 600Nm of torque; the ‘standard’ 5.0L V8 petrol generates 283kW and 515Nm, in supercharged format and in Portfolio trim the power jumps to 345kW and 575Nm and the range topping supercharged Supersports produces a huge 375kW and 625Nm of torque.
We’ve tested the turbo diesel for an extended period of time and found it to be most impressive. It offers an excellent, strong-pulling engine, high speeds without excessive revving, noteworthy low-down power, and a more exciting engine note than is expected of a diesel. The six-speed ZF automatic gearbox though silky smooth, is at times capable of changing gears too quickly, but this is a surprisingly fast, smooth car that produces almost effortless oomph.
Not so good : The cheapest petrol V8 grade is over $50,000 more than the excellent twin turbo diesel yet it is well down on torque so for most drivers the diesel must surely be the smarter buy.
Ride and Handling
Good: The handling is class leading. The car feels agile and responsive with great body control and high levels of dynamic ability. It remains flat through the corners. The ride is firmer than the competing S- class but not uncomfortable, and certainly not harsh. It is especially comfortable in normal mode which is a stage of the drive control as opposed to dynamic mode, where the steering and ride become more firm, making the jag a real drivers’ car. The steering is fantastic, natural and direct with a lovely amount of weighting.
Not so good :The ride is firmer than most competitors, especially an S-Class or LS, and this becomes more noticeable at low speeds. It is much more of a driver’s car than a chauffeured limousine- but we’re not complaining one bit.
Buying and Owning
Good : The big Jag combines the best of the traditional big luxury sedan (i.e. 7-Series / S-Class) and the new brigade (i.e. Quattroporte / Panamera) to produce something that feels special and different. There is a wide range of choice offered in either standard or long wheelbase (which provides an additional 12cm of rear seat legroom and longer rear doors) and three grades of trim (Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersports). It looks like great value when compared against the traditional German competition (S-Class & 7-Series), and is significantly cheaper than an S-Class, especially in petrol V8 mode.
Entry level grade comes standard with soft leather interior, beautiful wood panels, and quality sound system. This is a good quality car with good fuel economy, 3.0L turbo diesel’s official combined fuel economy is an amazingly low 7.0 litres per 100kms, a truly excellent figure for such a big, swift and luxurious vehicle. To top it all off, the optional Bowers and Wilkins audio system produces 1200w!
Not so good : By the time the top of the range Supersports is on the road you’d be looking at around $400,000. Gulp, that’s big bucks.