State-of-the-art mega-saloons go head-to-head
11 June 2010

The Jaguar XJ Supersport and Aston Martin Rapide state-of-the-art mega-saloons have been pitched head-to-head.

Although they are separated by £55,000 - the short wheelbase Jaguar costs £85,000 and the Rapide £140,000 - they are very similar in many ways.

See the exclusive Jaguar XJ v Aston Rapide pictures

Both weigh close to 2000kg (the Jaguar about 90kg the lighter) and are a little over five metres long. Each has a large 'bent; engine mounted north-south in the nose.

But whereas the Aston has the kind of snug rear compartment you get by adding only 30cm of length to a coupe, the Jaguar has rear seats big enough for premiers and potentates, even before you specify the long wheelbase version.

On the road

In Supersports guise, the Jaguar's supercharged 5.0-litre V8 (503bhp at 600rpm) has a 10 per cent advantage over the Aston's normally-aspirated 6.0-litre V12 (469bhp at 6000rpm). The Jaguar's torque output of 461lb ft at 2500rpm just shades the Aston's 443lb ft at 5000rpm.

These figures translate into genuine high-performance. The Jaguar easily achieves the 0-60mph sprint in 4.7sec, but is limited to 155mph. The Aston achieves 0-60mph in 4.9sec, but will go on to 184mph. On the roads of Essex there was no perceivable performance difference between the two.

The engines are fairly different, though, in smoothness and sound. The Aston's V12 starts with the brief, even whirring of a starter motor, then bursts smoothly into life with a sound so sophisticated and seamless that there is hardly a clue to the fact it's made up of separate impulses. Rev the engine and it gets a little louder but no rougher.

The Jaguar is quiet and smooth, of course, just as its limo character requires. But what surprises you is its guttural growl at full noise, along with the muted but unmistakable whine from the blower. This is a British luxury car with the merest whiff of Nascar available on request.

There are other quirks about the XJ's character. The car's ride is quite a lot firmer and sportier than equivalent Audi, Mercedes or even BMW models. Its suspension rates are variable via a push-push Sport button on the centre console, and there's a Dynamic mode that also varies the steering weight, accelerator response and transmission regime.

The XJ has grip and directional ability to match the very best, along with a sweetly responsive steering system that feels tauter when you select Sport and then Dynamic mode. It's a big car, though, and you sit higher than in the Aston, so it feels a little more cumbersome in tight going.

But the Jaguar's big secret is effortlessness. Attack a long, bumpy bend at speed and the car will scythe through so easily, so perfectly on line, that you find yourself wondering, "Was it the car or me?"

The Aston's ultra-close supercar connections mean that you're surprised, at first, to find it so smooth-riding and sophisticated on the more relaxed of its two suspension settings. The level ride draws benefit from the Rapide's extended wheelbase. You feel it in the agility and steering response, even against the Jag. Meanwhile, the car's competence at coping with potholes is surprising - until you select Sport, when you're in an Aston coupe again.

Conclusions

The Jaguar is better riding, much quieter over rough surfaces and - surprisingly - a little quicker. The Rapide is much quicker to turn, marginally better balanced in corners and more stable under maximum-effort braking.

The Aston feels tailored around you. The Jag's driving position is more conventionally spacious, and has a ultra-modern interior that beats the Aston.

Which to choose? If your heart is in supercars and you don't mind the price, the Rapide is the obvious choice. The Jaguar is simply more conventional - it's special, but less special than the Aston.

To read the full comparison test buy this week's Autocar magazine, on sale now.

See all the latest Jaguar XJ reviews, news and videoSee all the latest Aston Martin Rapide reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Jaguar XJ

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

Join the debate

Comments
15

7 June 2010

Would be happy with either of these cars, but would go for the Jag on price and interior.

7 June 2010

>> Completely fail to understand the point of this article. You compare 2 cars in different strata and then you don't make a clear choice.

7 June 2010

I think I actually prefer the Jag.

It looks more classy and stylish.

The aston looks, dare I say it.... Tacky? Perhaps its to go with the owners new tacky IQ based Aston Martin.

I see politicians, business CEOs, world leaders etc being attracted to the Jag.

I see Football players going for the Aston Martin.

In my opinion, the Aston Martin brand is not what is used to be.....

7 June 2010

Forget both these cars, they are only for brittish snobs. That leaves you with 3 options. a) Jag Xf better looking better handling faster and still roomier than the aston and also you save even more cash. B) Maserati quattroporte C) porsche panamera.

and of course leave out of the equation all the german supersaloons they are just taxis with powerful engines

7 June 2010

Comparison... I think not! A joke perhaps, for it seems to me that this in not a matter of an objective car review any more, but an issue of preserving ones national pride.

Let me point out in the beginning that the new Jaguar XJ is not a target of my criticism here, for I give it a full credit for its new, bald design that we all (I assume) have been waiting for. How much it requires from already established and respected manufacturer to start from the scratch, one can only wonder... Jaguar, an enduring mammal indeed!

But Aston Martin these days is quite a different animal, and here I dare to say, not the car itself or philosophy behind the company one will pay to enjoy, but merely the premium of Aston Martin name. Rapide is the first Aston build in Austria, so does it really deserves this premium label of a hand made British brand? Price would certainly signify so, but how about the performance and luxury? When compared to a Porsche Panamera, it scored none besides its charm, or DB9's charm, to be precise. With rear seats leg room so poor, Aston developed one truely unique feature in this car, and that is the new seating possition for its passengers.

Rapide won't ask you what you want, but what you can do without. Yoga course included with the purchase of the car - that you won't be able to do without!


7 June 2010

[quote Autocar]Bold-looking XJ is built in a factory that once made spitfires[/quote]

And the Aston Martin Rapide is made in a city, Graz, which was heavily bombed by the Allies in WWII. Oh the irony.

7 June 2010

To Nicksheele: Graz was bombed because it housed the Junkers factories - makers of WWII warplanes (among other war stuff). This article is obviously being published to give coverage to these cars. Why? Because there is no dinero around to buy them. No orders coming in. Good cars but no customers. Sad times.

7 June 2010

[quote MarkusMorelli]

To Nicksheele: Graz was bombed because it housed the Junkers factories - makers of WWII warplanes (among other war stuff). This article is obviously being published to give coverage to these cars. Why? Because there is no dinero around to buy them. No orders coming in. Good cars but no customers. Sad times.

[/quote]

Thanks Markus for the info. As to lack of orders all this is simply the inevitable conclusion of Ponzi schemes. Being Italian(I presume?) you'll probably know the background to the coining of the term 'ponzi scheme'. The bankers have perpetrated the mother of all criminal ponzi schemes and all hell is about to break loose. They've tried these past 2-3 years to stop the collapse but now countries are bust instead of banks. This may well be fin de siecle time and cars like the Rapide and XJ may well be looked back on as curios like that from the end of the Roman empire, not to be repeated for possibly a thousand years. On the bright side England will win the World Cup and beer and circuses will occupy the plebs' attention.

7 June 2010

Two superb cars but for me, The Jag is gorgeous. I personally think the XJ is the best looking car (along with the Quattroporte) in its class. Bold & imposing with an interior to rival the very best. I am not entirely surprised the ride is more sporting and firm then its predecessor, part of the the brief was to make the car as communicative as a BMW, but still try to have a smooth a cosseting ride like a Mercedes and Jags of old.

As for the Aston, I do like it a hell of a lot. I just wish they took a little more time with making the car slightly more accommodating.

7 June 2010

I think the styling of the Aston fails as they have made it longer and taller, but to keep a good balanace to the shape it need to be proportionally wider as well. Viewed head on or rear on it looks skinny and on slighly on tip toes.

The new XJ is a masterpiece and the test car hepled by being in black. This colour disguised the wiered C Pillar design that looks really strange on other colour cars. It is supposed to make the rear screen look like wraps around the pillar but it has ended up looking like it neither belongs to the screen or the pillar. I can see dealers colour coding this on non black cars or will be the first job for the facelift.

Only issue nor with Aston Martin which is now being highlighted is that their Alloy construction is still not light enough and their 6 litre engine in no longer competitive and needs a lot more power and lower emissions. They should add direct injection and soft turbos and they would end up with a unit comparable to the V12 in the Mercedes S65.

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