Sleek, luxurious, spacious and sporty, the new XJ is being heralded as the absolute epitome of what an executive model should be and is expected to be the land barge of choice for those able to afford its £53,775 - £90,455 price tag and discerning company heads, lured away from the prestige German equivalents.
It’s certainly a stunning car, very ‘Maserati’ from the front and rear; it definitely looks like it’s worth the money its commanding. “Bond Car’ designer Ian Callum’s latest creation bears little resemblance to the previous XJ. In fact nothing of the old XJ remains to even suggest that the two are even closely related. A family portrait of the two together would imply that the new XJ is the steroid taking gym obsessed muscular and super hot uncle (by marriage only), with the old XJ looking like the dull, boring and slightly impotent second cousin once removed.
I was lucky enough to have the near top-of-the-range ‘Portfolio’ SWB (short wheelbase) model, twinned with the superb 275bhp 3.0L Diesel engine to test for the week. Looking out the window and seeing the ‘Ultimate Black’ with ‘Jet’ interior XJ test car wafting up onto my driveway and elegantly putting its 20” Kasuga alloys on my tarmac was a very happy moment. It was certainly a happier moment than watching it being driven away the following week! A huge part of that sadness/comedy was due to the driver sent it pick it up (who was like a thousand years old and looked like Mr Magoo’s dad) deciding, when reversing off our drive, that the ‘reverse into the turning circle 6ft away from our drive’ was the incorrect course of action and that a three point turn was in fact the best way forward. Not bothering to take into account the XJ’s aggressive looking front bumper that sits lower to the ground than a snakes belly or the fact the drop kerb had ended. Needless to say that bouncing the front spoiler of a 70k motor down a standard kerb and then trying for 10 minutes to three point turn a 17ft car in an 18ft road with high kerbs both sides - only ends in lots of crunchy grinding noises that chill you to the bone.
So outside it’s a stunning piece of kit, inside is no different, Jaguar have tried to break new ground with the XJ cabin and attempted to give the other luxury brands the 101 of how to create the ultimate executive cabin. Masterfully blending traditional natural materials with space age composites, it’s contemporary, elegant and unbeatably luxurious. The spec list for the XJ I drove goes on for pages and pages, 70k gets you a whole host of happy, with gadgets and gizmos all over the place! Features including 12.3-inch high definition ‘virtual’ instruments, dual view technology and an 8-inch touch screen able to project DVD movies or TV programmes to the passenger, whilst the driver views vehicle functions and sat nav (TV was an optional extra in my test car) are incorporated into the XJ’s state of the art cabin, together with a top of the range kick arse Bowers & Wilkins audio system and comprehensive connectivity for portable devices such as iPod and MP3 as standard. There are four models to choose from – Luxury, Premium Luxury, Portfolio and Supersport
Engine wise, the XJ benefits from a choice of four acclaimed engines, the most advanced, powerful and efficient Jaguar has ever created, coupled with six-speed transmission controlled by JaguarDrive selector (the auto pop-up-when-you-start-the-engine gear knob) or steering wheel paddles for seamlessly smooth gear changes. All engines reach 0-60mph 6.0 secs or below. The 3.0-litre 275PS AJ-V6D Gen III diesel with twin sequential turbochargers I tested was just brilliant, bucket loads of power, great low down grunt for a very sporty feeling and twinned with the fantastic new suspension setup means that it’s somewhat of a dream around twisting country roads. It delivers torque where its most needed whatever your driving style and overall is a great package, even more so when you’ve turned on the ‘Active Dynamics’ system, which turns your dials red and inspires a far more ‘racy’ feel to everything. If Diesels not where your heart lies, then fear not, there are three amazing 5.0-litre V8’s to choose from, for those that want out and out performance, coupled with much higher fuel bills, the Petrol engines start with the 385PS naturally aspirated, move on to the 470PS supercharged and then there’s the range topping 510PS supercharged achieving 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds.
With an aerospace-inspired aluminium body at least 150kg lighter than its rivals and new technologies, significant improvement on performance, handling and economy have been possible, without compromising on strength, safety and refinement. In terms of sustainability, the aluminium is 50% recycled and other materials responsibly sourced. This is underpinned by a carbon-footprint minimising lifecycle approach to vehicle manufacturer and design – creating a potential saving of three tonnes of CO2 per vehicle, compared to a bodyshell made all from new aluminium.
The new XJ is available in standard and long-wheelbase models, the latter perfect for limo use with an additional 125mm of rear legroom and 520-litre boot capable of carrying two suitcases side by side.