Jaguar is putting the finishing touches to what could become the most dramatic and innovative new model the company will ever build - the replacement for the XJ limousine - and we can bring you exclusive images of the car two-and-a-half years before its launch. Autocar has spoken to insiders who have seen the design and have revealed that when the crucial vehicle, codenamed X351, begins production in late 2009, it will rock the luxury market.With years of massive losses and what’s widely regarded as a series of major product planning blunders behind them, Jaguar and Ford executives will throw caution to the wind with project X351. Destined to be even more radical than the XF, which replaces the S-Type later this year, X351 is being pitched against some of the most glamorous and desirable cars on the planet.Jaguar’s marketing specialists are already showing a full-size model of the car — accurate inside and out — to potential customers, and our artists impression (above) is informed by the very latest information available on the car.According to sources, Jaguar thinks the new XJ could be pitched against rivals as wide-ranging as the Mercedes CLS, Maserati Quattroporte and even the Bentley Flying Spur. Pricing for the top-end model could break through the £85k barrier.
The design blueprint
Although the lightweight aluminium chassis of the current XJ will be carried over, the car’s upper structure has been redesigned. This has allowed Jaguar’s design team to design a car with a coupé-like flowing roofline.One source who has seen the new XJ described it as “looking like the C-XF’s features had been draped over an Aston Martin Rapide”. The windscreen is also said to extend back into the roof panel.Aside from a low roof and high tail combination, the new car is said to have a narrower nose than the C-XF, with narrower headlights (likely to be LED units), although it retains the large, square grille that made its debut on the C-XF. One proposal is for the grille’s mesh to be made up of hundreds of tiny Jaguar ‘leaper’ cutouts.At the rear, the car is said to have tail-lights similar to those on the Bentley Continental GT but which wrap over onto the rear deck. Between the rear lights is a distinctive flat panel, which features a prominent Jaguar ‘leaper’ badge.