Assertive new face for a car whose excellence is still masked by a carriage clock aura.

What is it?

Jaguar’s XJ saloon, updated to give it greater presence, especially in the US.

To this end it gets an additional grille let into a deeper, bluffer front bumper that happens to alter the car’s aerodynamics sufficiently that a lip spoiler now decorates the bootlid.

Implying the athleticism that we know is there are deeper sills that drop this Jag closer to earth, and vertical vents in its front wings. They expel air too, though whether this materially improves brake performance no-one could say.

The front wing side repeaters have migrated to the outer edges of the door mirrors, ensuring a bigger bill should you smash one, a chrome plinth spans the bootlid, the exhaust tail-pipes are new and the chrome blades of the previous bumpers have gone. ‘You should be able to see it 200-300 metres away and recognise it,’ says Jaguar design boss Ian Callum.

What's it like?

The changes certainly are recognisable, but while the lower grille and flanking air intakes look good, the bumpers themselves seem too clunky for the rest of the car. Which also receives a few improvements.

Most useful are new front seats, now optionally available with air-cooling, the opportunity taken to widen them between the bolsters (a nod to the sometimes ample types who drive XJs) and reshape backrest and cushion to yield more rear knee and legroom.

There’s also an upgraded Bluetooth facility allowing five mobiles to be synched-in, though it’s hard to imagine circumstances when this might be useful apart from the conference call from hell.

So not that many changes in truth, their limited scope underlining what a damn good car the XJ is in the first place. Especially as a diesel, the twin turbo 2.7 V6 being remarkably difficult to identify as an oil-burner.

That it is so effective is just as well given that it accounts for the vast majority of XJ sales in the UK, the V8 petrols near untenable now, which is why the 3.5 V8 has been dropped. The 2.7 diesel stuns with refinement, seamless urge and a chassis that often amazes with its mix of agility and ride comfort. Too few cars have you marvelling at their suspension’s resolution of that pesky ride and handling conundrum, but the XJ is one.

Much of this is preserved aboard the more firmly sprung, supercharged R, whose lightly-whining zest is genuinely exciting. Just as satisfying is that this old school interior contains as much techno-trickery as your more modernist luxury saloon.

Should I buy one?

It’s still a damn good car, this big Jag. A bold new grille probably isn’t going to trigger a stampede of deserting Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Range Rover drivers, but it might persuade some to sample its impressive charms. Those who do will be agreeably surprised.

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