In the UK, where prices start at £53,775 (and the difference between short and long-wheelbase variants is £3000), there are three trim levels – Luxury, Premium Luxury and Portfolio – and three engine choices, a 271bhp turbodiesel V6, a 380bhp normally aspirated 5.0-litre petrol V8 and a 503bhp supercharged V8.
A 464bhp supercharged V8 is offered in the rest of the world, but not the UK; power lovers here will opt for the £87,445 range-topping 503bhp Supersport version that gets its own sporting trim and badgework, plus an active limited-slip differential. Perhaps the XJ’s greatest feature – which every model gets – is a remarkable interior with rich brightwork, new instrumentation and a pervading air of quality.
See the Jaguar XJ 3.0D V6 Portfolio LWB pics
What's it like?
Our test car, a £64,275 long-wheelbase Portfolio diesel, felt instantly as Jaguars have always done: smooth, quiet and relatively soft-riding. But in recent times the company has made an issue of replacing very low-rate limousine bounce with relatively firm body control plus accurate, perfectly weighted and uncorrupted steering. The refinement stays, but the uncontrolled softness is gone.
This, if you like, is the XJ’s lesson one. It is no longer an “airport” car but a spacious, serious high-performance car for drivers. You can closely relate driving it to the experience behind the wheel of an XF or XK. It has been honed for greater refinement, and the longer wheelbase makes it sit flatter than the others but the same alertness is there, along with the same three-level driver control system (snow, comfort or dynamic), and the same quick-reacting paddle-shift system that can give you manual-like control of the conventional six-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
Also present are the same three levels of chassis stability control: conventional ESP, a track setting and an ‘everything off’ setting that will still intervene if everything goes wrong. It’s all just the same as in your XKR.
The steering is naturally light (a little heavier in Dynamic) but it resists loading up in corners. Its path-following is brilliant, it hardly understeers and never oversteers, except in the streaming wet or on ice. Choose an amount of lock for a long corner and you’ll find you’re usually right. Very small adjustments are all that’s required. Towards the limit it’ll throttle-steer neatly, especially if you’re using the paddles to enhance engine braking.
The newly upgraded 3.0-litre turbodiesel gets much more power (271bhp at 4000rpm) but the figure that matters is its 442lb ft of torque at just 2000rpm. It betters all V8s bar the Supersports, which is about 20lb ft stronger. The 3.0D is strong but subtle, with near-instant shove courtesy of its twin sequential turbos. The result is prodigious power, plus long legs. You can drive this car very, very fast without ever straying over 3500rpm. The 0-60mph sprint takes just 6.0sec, the top speed is limited at 155mph, but the real gauge of performance is how the car accelerates from 70mph to 100mph; it’s quiet and swift enough to undermine the case for buying any of the V8s, especially since the combined fuel consumption of 40mpg promises an easy range of 650 miles.
Should I buy one?
Hard to imagine why not. On first driving acquaintance, the XJ looks a triumph for Jaguar. Its siblings have been pleasing customers for several years. The XJ’s styling and magnificent interior provide a fine platform for driving characteristics so special that they may just take a British luxury car right back to the top of the market.