Showdown between the luxury saloons
26 March 2010

The new Jaguar XJ has been pitted against the Mercedes S-class in the latest Autocar head-to-head.

Writer Matt Saunders pitted the Jaguar XJ 3.0D Portfolio LWB against the Mercedes S350L CDI for the test.

See the exclusive Jaguar XJ v Mercedes S-class pictures

Saunders first gets behind the wheel of the S-class, concluding that it is unflappably stable. "it consumes long distances with breathtaking calm," he says. "Its steering is weighty, a little inert but perfect for performing unhurried,, sweeping lane changes.

"And its throttle and brake pedal allow you to mete out just enough acceleration or stopping power to deal with traffic lights without disturbing the stillness on board."

The next morning he's handed the keys to the Jaguar XJ.

"It explodes your expectations of what a big Jag saloon should look like," he says. "It's a fresh and attractive take on a luxury four-door that's as graceful as it is athletic-looking. Aesthetically the Jag XJ has got this contest sewn up."

The interior is just as good: "It's one of the most special cabins of any British saloon of teh past 20 years - Bentleys and Rolls-Royces included."

Comfort sat in the back is the next test. "In the Jag you feel very slightly more confined than you do in the back of the S-class. But there's still generous space to stretch out . The rear bench is fixed, so your seating position isn't as adjustable as it is in the Merc, and although you have seat heaters and coolers, there are no massagers."

The Jaguar XJ's ride also impresses with its "pleasingly controlled high-sped compliance". The Merc beats it on cobblestones and sharp ridges, though.

Behind the wheel, and the Jaguar again defies expectations. "It's unexpectedly responsive and agile," says Saunders. "While Mercedes has engineered in a softness to the S-class's major controls, the XJ's are sports car sharp."

That's not to say the XJ can't be driven smoothly, though - it does 'comfy and laidback' extremely well too.

Out on a challenging bit of road, and with the dynamics set to sport, the XJ excels. "getting back into the S-class and driving down the same piece of road feels like stepping back in time," notes Saunders. "Where the XJ felt poised, eager to please the driver and always willing to go faster, the S-class is unwieldy and unwilling."

Where the Merc does exceed expectations is with all its toys and impeccable material construction, its unerring motorway manners and a more pillowy low-speed ride.

Spec matched, the Merc is almost £2k more expensive.

The conclusion? The Merc is refined, luxurious and effective. But the Jag is a paradigm-shifter. It can be plush and soothing one moment, composed, precise and entertaining the next.

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

Twitter - follow autocar.co.ukSee all the latest Mercedes S-class reviews, news and videoSee all the latest Jaguar XJ reviews, news and video

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Comments
31

22 March 2010

Interesting, so something like a the 7-series though more agile and sharper handling than the S-Class, though comfy would not win against the Merc because the Merc's smoother ride and better overall refinement are the more important qualities in the luxury saloon sector

Similarly, the sharper handling and more agile new XJ also doesn't win against the smoother riding and more refined S-Class, because........oh, wait a minute!

22 March 2010

so who won this group test? if the s-class wins this, it can quite easily fend off the new audi aswell. thereby cementing its leading position until its replacement in 2012. quite an achievement. personally if i was in the market for a luxury barge it would be an s-class or a pheaton!

22 March 2010

The rear of that Jag looks odd! the s class and 7 series would make better choices! not too sure about the last statement about the Phaeton? as good of a car as it may be with horrendous depreciation it wouldnt be my first choice or second or third for that matter

22 March 2010

[quote stutts]so who won this group test?[/quote]

Won? what would they have won? What I understood fom the text was that each car was different and uniquely place within the car market.

I've never found Mercedes Benz to be any more refined than any other large prestige saloon. On the S Class, I test drove last year the door trim fell off.

Still, they both look nice, which is important.

22 March 2010

[quote Overdrive]Interesting, so something like a the 7-series though more agile and sharper handling than the S-Class, though comfy would not win against the Merc because the Merc's smoother ride and better overall refinement are the more important qualities in the luxury saloon sector[/quote]

Glad i'm not the only one thinking the same, because the Jag's better handling appears to give it the nod over the Merc even though the S-Class betters the XJ in other areas that matter in the class, such as ride and refinement. Hmmmm.....

Noticed that Autocar stopped short of saying which car was the best though. If it was the Merc, what an achievement it would be to remain top of the pile since its launch in 2005, even more notable when the previous one remained top since its introduction in 1998.

I've seen the XJ and it does look stunning though, not beautiful, but stunning.

507

22 March 2010

Has everyone taken leave of their senses? The Jag has a Ford engine! For this kind of money one certainly wants more than american rubbish under the bonnet. Anyone who has dismantled a Ford V8 knows how crude it is regardless of optimistic spec sheets.

22 March 2010

The XJ pips the 7 Series when tested by Autobild in Germany. That's not so bad the first time out. Lets wait for the full comparison test between the major 4.

I would include the Phaeton in the list as well but I wouldn't hold my breadth :-)

22 March 2010

[quote 507]The Jag has a Ford engine![/quote]

Wahahahahahaha! Woohooohoohoohahahaha! Arf arf arf.

Thanks 507, I needed a bit of humour on a Monday morning.

22 March 2010

[quote A6SLinequattro]

The XJ pips the 7 Series when tested by Autobild in Germany.[/quote]

Came to post this so as to avoid the usual crowd bleating about favouritism.

Jaguar XJ BMW 7 Series shows its claws (Google translation)

Basically, the XJ wins.

Still has your grandmother's backside though.

507

22 March 2010

If Jaguar doesn´t use Ford sourced V8 engines it would be nice to know its origin. If Jaguar had developed their own engine, like the famous XK, the marque would be in a stronger technical position, but rather poorer and probably still only half way into having a ready engine.

The V8 Jag is obviously fast enough, but a little embarassing it is that even the new smallest BMW, the 135is (340 bhp) will outaccelerate it. The new M5 (586 bhp) will of course be vastly superior if speed only is the sole object.

Jaguar desperatly needs a smaller, BMW 3-series type of car but the investment required to beat the 3-series (NB. new one 2011) is of course insurmountable.

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