From £54,630
Stylish, great to drive and a magnificent interior - what's not to like?

Our Verdict

Jaguar XJ

The Jaguar XJ is a thoroughly modern luxury saloon, and a brilliantly capable one

23 February 2010

What is it?

This may be the most significant Jaguar in 42 years – except that we’ve become rather too used to epoch-making Jags. The XK of 2006 was first to find a post-Lyons style and make an issue of the aluminium lightweight construction. The XF of 2008 was first to show that Jaguar’s new-age saloons could preserve ‘sporting luxury car’ values.

Still, the new XJ has an extra significance. It remains the essential Jaguar, the reinvention of a car whose own revolutionary styling, performance and sheer, modernity first stood Mercedes, Rolls and the rest on their ear.

Work on the new XJ began several generations ago. Under its skin, the new model is closely related to the outgoing model, rethought in 2003 with an all-new aluminium body that carved 200kg off the typical weight of a luxury saloon in the process. To that car Jaguar engineers added a modern all-independent suspension they had been developing since the later days of the S-type.

Then came Ian Callum and his Jaguar design team, who produced this new-generation XJ shape that manages to inject much-needed controversy into XJ styling while referring clearly to the members of its new family. It comes in two lengths (5122mm or 5247mm) that go naturally against the biggest cars from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.

In the UK, where prices start at £53,775 (and the difference between short and long-wheelbase variants is £3000), there are three trim levels – Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio – and three engine choices, a 271bhp turbodiesel V6, a 380bhp normally aspirated 5.0-litre petrol V8 and a 503bhp supercharged V8.

A 464bhp supercharged V8 is offered in the rest of the world, but not the UK; power lovers here will opt for the £87,445 range-topping 503bhp Supersport version that gets its own sporting trim and badgework, plus an active limited-slip differential. Perhaps the XJ’s greatest feature – which every model gets – is a remarkable interior with rich brightwork, new instrumentation and a pervading air of quality.

See the Jaguar XJ 3.0D V6 Portfolio LWB pics

What's it like?

Our test car, a £64,275 long-wheelbase Portfolio diesel, felt instantly as Jaguars have always done: smooth, quiet and relatively soft-riding. But in recent times the company has made an issue of replacing very low-rate limousine bounce with relatively firm body control plus accurate, perfectly weighted and uncorrupted steering. The refinement stays, but the uncontrolled softness is gone.

This, if you like, is the XJ’s lesson one. It is no longer an “airport” car but a spacious, serious high-performance car for drivers. You can closely relate driving it to the experience behind the wheel of an XF or XK. It has been honed for greater refinement, and the longer wheelbase makes it sit flatter than the others but the same alertness is there, along with the same three-level driver control system (snow, comfort or dynamic), and the same quick-reacting paddle-shift system that can give you manual-like control of the conventional six-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

Also present are the same three levels of chassis stability control: conventional ESP, a track setting and an ‘everything off’ setting that will still intervene if everything goes wrong. It’s all just the same as in your XKR.

The steering is naturally light (a little heavier in Dynamic) but it resists loading up in corners. Its path-following is brilliant, it hardly understeers and never oversteers, except in the streaming wet or on ice. Choose an amount of lock for a long corner and you’ll find you’re usually right. Very small adjustments are all that’s required. Towards the limit it’ll throttle-steer neatly, especially if you’re using the paddles to enhance engine braking.

The newly upgraded 3.0-litre turbodiesel gets much more power (271bhp at 4000rpm) but the figure that matters is its 442lb ft of torque at just 2000rpm. It betters all V8s bar the Supersports, which is about 20lb ft stronger. The 3.0D is strong but subtle, with near-instant shove courtesy of its twin sequential turbos. The result is prodigious power, plus long legs. You can drive this car very, very fast without ever straying over 3500rpm. The 0-60mph sprint takes just 6.0sec, the top speed is limited at 155mph, but the real gauge of performance is how the car accelerates from 70mph to 100mph; it’s quiet and swift enough to undermine the case for buying any of the V8s, especially since the combined fuel consumption of 40mpg promises an easy range of 650 miles.

Should I buy one?

Hard to imagine why not. On first driving acquaintance, the XJ looks a triumph for Jaguar. Its siblings have been pleasing customers for several years. The XJ’s styling and magnificent interior provide a fine platform for driving characteristics so special that they may just take a British luxury car right back to the top of the market.

Join the debate

Comments
38

26 February 2010

Although it's fine to see the video of the car I'm reserving my final opinion of the exterior styling until I've viewed it in Standard Northern Daylight (I'm an ex paint technologist).

Croppers' views are usually pretty well my own in most cases, although he naturally gets to try the cars on a daily basis over a period. My guess is that he will snaffle one for himself quite soon!

The interior is as different to the XF as the XF was to the rest of the previous designs. I have to pinch myself to realise the new standards for clarity and controls' design with each new iteration are the work of a company which was a byword for conservatism until very recently.

The coupe-like rump and extended glass area we've seen. For me they work but it will take a little while to "see" them as a Jaguar motif. At the front the new grill and low headlights challenge one's existing Jaguar preconceptions.

It will take me a little while yet to accept them I think.

26 February 2010

Seems this new XJ drives as well as we all hoped it might when judged solely on looks - well done Jaguar. Still, as it's based on the "old" XJ I guess it shouldn't be otherwise. It has distinctive looks outside but I would certainly buy one on the looks of that interior alone - so much nicer than the slab of upright dash stretching across the whole width of the car that seems to dominate the luxury market. Those dials alone do it for me even though they are not real, just a TFT screen (that is right, isn't it?). Fabulous car. I'm guessing that Mr Cropley will be getting one of these as a long-termer as soon as he hands back his recently acquired Ferrari in about 6 months - nice timing, sir!


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

26 February 2010

[quote DSP123]At the front the new grill and low headlights challenge one's existing Jaguar preconceptions.[/quote] I do wish they could do something about that bonnet shut-line that runs over the top/front of the grille. It looks so prominent on virtually all the pictures I've seen; I'm guessing it has something do with EU pedestrian safety rules, but I do wish they could have sloped it down between the lights and the grille and then under the grille so that the bonnet and grille all lifted as one. I do like the backend though, nicely uncluttered and so different that it will be easy to spot an XJ as it sweeps past. Can't wait to see one in the metal.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

26 February 2010

Am not too sure about the back end... And its all well and good that it drives brilliantly but there is no word about any amazing new technology like a 7 series review or S class review

26 February 2010

Having been sandwiched between two of these on a recent drive past Castle Bromwich I have to say that I was very disappointed by the styling (both front & rear). I never understood why the old shape got slated by the motoring world so badly for looking outdated. It was a timeless shape that still looks attractive & probably will do for several years to come. I can't image that this design will remain looking 'contemporary' for very long...

I have no doubt though that it has an incredibly high chance of being the best long distance touring 4 door saloon in the world & it's interior will be second to none - which is good because I certainly wouldn't want to look at the exterior for very long...

26 February 2010

[quote stavers]I never understood why the old shape got slated by the motoring world so badly for looking outdated.[/quote]

Because sales went into freefall!

26 February 2010

It would have been interesting the read something about the interior space in the back for the normal (non-LWB) version. The old XJ was (very) cramped for its size, and I have read some initial reports saying the same thing for the new car. As regards the good pricing, before saying its a bargain in comparison to the competition, lets see what the leasing prices will be like, which are usually heavily influenced by the depreciation (which risks to be (much) higher than that of comparable (German) saloons).

Faustcar

26 February 2010

jaguar has a very small market left in the uk, and an even smaller one in europe / usa. the JLR company is heavily in debt. If jaguar had half a brain they would have developed a competent 3 series rival. we shall see how many of these monolithic monsters they manage to shift.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

26 February 2010

[quote kcrally]jaguar has a very small market left in the uk, and an even smaller one in europe / usa[/quote]

I tend to agree that Jaguar's future looks rather grim - as I have written elsewhere on this forum they have not made any profit for many years now, and it is difficult to see how a small volume car like this is going to change this overall picture. I guess they simply do not have the money to develop a competent 3 series rival, which would involve also the development of an all new platform as well as small engines they currently do not have ...

Faustcar

26 February 2010

'Grim' is exactly right. This is not a Jaguar, this is a Citroen that has been involved in a head-on collision with a Peterbilt truck. Jaguar made their name by producing some of the world's most elegant and enduring automotive shapes. This XJ is an absolute eyesore and William Lyons would be utterly horrified if he saw it.

I would love to own a Jaguar but the deja vu XK is noisy, uncomfortable, expensive and not particularly quick. And the XF is just a re-badged Mondeo that looks, at best, like a bland Volvo/Lexus mongrel. The most elegant saloon on the market today (both inside and out) is the Merc CLS - which was informally codenamed the Jag Fighter by Mercedes themselves. Mercedes did their homework about what Jag drivers want and got it absolutely spot on.

Goodbye Jaguar, you provided a great deal of pleasure for many people for many years. But you have completely lost your way and the brand has now been irrevocably damaged. I have no doubt that this incompetant, unimaginative management will finally succeed where the militant unions and their workforce failed.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run