What is it?
The middle-sitting version of Jaguar’s brand new flagship four-door, the XJ 5.0-litre V8. It’ll be the biggest-selling XJ in the range globally, and is expected to account for 60 per cent of all XJs built on Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich production line. In the UK, however, it’ll be outnumbered eight to one in the sales stakes by the 3.0-litre V6 diesel model.
It’s not difficult to see why Jaguar expects sales to pan out that way. A diesel XJ costs £7000 less than this petrol V8, like for like; it also offers more torque, is barely half a second slower to 60mph, will be significantly cheaper to tax, and will go roughly 15 miles further to the gallon.
So should you automatically discount this version of Britain’s brave new S-class fighter? Not if you’re smart.
What’s it like?
Quiet. That isn’t to imply that other versions of this car are noisy – far from it – but it’s amazing how hushed Jaguar has been able to make this car without high-pressure common-rail diesel injection or a whining supercharger to deal with.
Thumb the ‘Engine Start’ button and there’s a distant whirr of a starter motor, followed by a pleasant and momentarily loud exhaust woofle. Shortly afterwards, the engine settles into an idle that’s barely audible through the car’s thickly insulated door seals or via the padded front bulkhead.
On the move, the relatively low compression ratio of that big 5.0-litre V8 means that, while you’re very faintly aware of engine movements in a V6 diesel XJ, you feel no engine vibrations at all in this car. Plenty of low-end torque provides generous, old-fashioned ‘waftability’ around town, and in standard ‘D’ mode the car’s automatic gearbox is perfectly optimised for relaxed, refined urban cruising.
Jaguar’s development engineers claim that, although it’s a regrettable loss, the ‘dialling out’ of the old XJ’s cosseting secondary ride was worthwhile, given what this car gains as part of the compromise. And in this tester’s opinion, they’re right.