Is the ride of the Jaguar XJ good enough? That’s the question we kept coming back to in our time with the car. Initial impressions were that it felt a little too jittery. The complaint was not with big bump absorption, but that small ridges occasionally cause a cross-cabin vibration. However, with time this initial complaint seemed to fade.
That is not to forgive the XJ a fault, because the fact is that over some surfaces it simply isn’t as isolated as a Mercedes S-Class. Moreover, despite a slight reappraisal of the chassis’ spring and damper rate as part of the model’s first facelift, the secondary ride still isn't what it should be for a large saloon.
But – and it’s a big but – in other areas the XJ has the S-Class licked. This is especially so in terms of body control, where the XJ impresses not only with its ability to handle direction changes, but also over choppy roads and with its composure at motorways speeds. At the end of a long journey the XJ delivers its passengers refreshed and relaxed.
But it is what the XJ does for its driver that we are most interested in, because for driving enjoyment the Jag eclipses conventional large saloons from Mercedes, BMW and Audi. It is instead worthy of comparison with the likes of the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera, and good enough to come away with its pride intact.
The XJ is a car of nearly two tonnes, but from the driver’s seat it never feels so portly. The steering is light and quick but accurate, and for such a long car the balance is impressively neutral. And even in the long-wheelbase model there’s the very real sense that the car is being pushed through a corner by its rear wheels.
But it’s the fact that the XJ combines the involvement of this ‘old-fashioned’ approach to dynamics with all the control you’d expect of a modern saloon and the serenity of a luxury product that makes it so compelling.