It’s expected to arrive in showrooms in spring 2019 and a concept version could be seen in 2018, the 50th anniversary of the original XJ. The image above shows Autocar's expectations for the model.
According to inside sources, the debate on how to replace Jaguar’s flagship model was wide-ranging. Some in the company thought the XJ could be remade as a kind of super-SUV similar in concept to the Range Rover Sport.
Others proposed an end for the XJ, believing the investment in a large saloon to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class might not make a sound business case. Sales of today’s XJ have risen steadily to 20,000 units per year, but that’s only a fraction of S-Class sales.
It was also suggested that the latest XF had undermined the case for the new XJ to be a conventional big saloon. Today’s XF, which is based on the latest D7a aluminium architecture, is marginally more spacious than the current seven-year-old XJ.
Jaguar XJ will be replaced, confirms design boss
Autocar understands that debate over the XJ’s future went right up the chain of command to Ratan Tata, father of the Indian brand that owns Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). As recently as summer last year, an XJ replacement wasn’t even on the official model cycle plan.
In the past few weeks, Jaguar design boss Ian Callum obliquely referred to the future of the XJ while taking about the F-Pace. When asked by Autocar if the F-Pace SUV would, like Volvo’s XC90, become Jaguar’s de facto flagship, he disagreed.
“Proper luxury brands have to have an indulgent car in there somewhere,” he said. “We’ve got two: the XJ and the F-Type. If you want the room of an XJ, you might as well buy an XF — there’s not much in it — but the whole point of luxury is indulgence, so you need a car like that, something that acts as the bookend for the brand. I think we will always have that.”
Autocar understands from various other sources that the decision to replace the XJ and the form it should take was made in the light of a number of market developments.
The first was the huge success of the current S-Class, which confounded analysts’ forecasts that conventional luxury saloons were being undermined by SUVs and perceived as upmarket taxis.
Indeed, at the Geneva show, BMW board member Ian Robertson underlined the primacy of the super-luxury saloon when he insisted the new Rolls-Royce Phantom would be the brand’s flagship rather than the Cullinan SUV.
The second development was the arrival of the new BMW 7 Series, which introduced a hybrid bodyshell using carbonfibre, steel and aluminium. The lavish interiors and craftsmanship of the BMW and Mercedes cabins also made Jaguar planners realise how far the bar in the premium market has been raised.
Jaguar bosses also know their brand needs to catch up in terms of serious drivetrain electrification and autonomous driving technologies.
Finally, a new XJ saloon will provide an opportunity for Jaguar to develop a new generation of design language, both inside and out, especially now the XE/XF/F-Pace family has been launched.
Autocar understands the new XJ will be based on the same basic D7a aluminium architecture, with sections of the structure replaced by lightweight carbonfibre.