Even though it’s still a saloon, the latest Jaguar XJ looks like no other XJ before it. Gone is the low-slung three-box look, replaced by design director Ian Callum’s vision for a 21st-century luxury car.
Where the latest XJ does follow its predecessor is in the use of aluminium for its body panels and chassis. It’s an expensive process but one that, in the luxury class, only Audi’s A8 shares. Unsullied by the A8’s four-wheel drive system, however, the rear-wheel-drive XJ is one of the lightest cars in this class – barely 40kg heavier than the smaller (though steel-built) XF saloon even in long-wheelbase form.
Even though it’s still a saloon, this Jaguar XJ looks like no other XJ before it. Certainly the XJ is forward-looking and, as with most advanced designs, it doesn’t entirely avoid courting controversy. We know it’s subjective but, for the record, we like the XJ’s overall design stance, even if we’re not entirely convinced about its rear. Arguably the XJ’s most controversial feature – the black-clad C-pillars – are designed to blend seamlessly with the rear screen to give the impression that it wraps around, although it’s an idea that works best on dark-coloured cars.
To accentuate the XJ’s length and give it a ‘waisted’ look, the swage line that starts from the top of the front wheel arch fades away through the middle of the car, before reappearing over the rear arch.
Finally the headlight design first seen on Jaguar’s C-XF concept makes it to series production. Automatic LED headlights and revised daylight running lights are standard on all models. The rear lights are all LED. Jaguar says the three distinct red strips are reminiscent of a cat’s claw marks.
Regardless of our reservations, it is perhaps telling that Jaguar has chosen not to alter the XJ's styling during mid-life revisions. The bold move taken by Jaguar initially has clearly proved popular with buyers.
The XJ L gets a wheelbase extended by 125mm over the standard-length car. Jaguar says the long-wheelbase model was actually developed to have dynamics to match those of the regular car. Back-to-back testing suggests that to be the case; a minimal weight penalty of between 25 and 50kg certainly helps.