With seats that will massage you while you watch TV, DAVID HOOPER, Editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says Jaguar’s new XJ will impress you on every level.
TO be quite honest, when I saw the first pictures of Jaguar’s new flagship XJ model, I didn’t like it.
I loved the classically curvy bonnet shapes of the old Jags a design theme which could be traced back decades. For me, it was what made a Jaguar, a Jaguar.
But the cars had been left behind by their premium rivals. The company was in trouble and things had to change. The man who spearheaded that change was one of the world’s top car designers, Ian Callum, whose first new model for the company, the XF prompted a similar reaction from me initially.
I didn’t like that car either at first, but it was a “grower” – one of those designs which the more you see of it, the more you like it. I now love it. It has become the new shape for Jaguar. It looks great on the road, but more importantly, has become a big hit with the company’s customers.
Having just spent a week living with the new XJ, I am sure the same will be true for this model. It’s a big, imposing car for the executive who likes to be noticed. I think the styling looks quite American from some angles, particularly at the back end, with its distinctive LED light clusters, but this will have been a deliberate result, bearing in mind where the company will need to sell a lot of cars.
There are three trim levels, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and the Portfolio model I’ve been testing, with a choice of just two engines, either the 3.0 V6 diesel or the mighty 5.0 V8.
Sitting on shiny 20in Kasuga alloy wheels, and finished in a lovely Spectrum Blue colour, my test car looked very impressive, while its huge, chrome cheesegrater grille turned a few heads as I glided by, but a close inspection of the car’s finish revealed panel gaps which need a bit of fine tuning to even them up, something which should have been done before the car left the factory. The boot isn’t as big as I expected either, it’s long, but not very deep.
Open the door and the interior is a sight to behold. Finished in navy and ivory leather, with plenty of wood trim and chrome garnishes, it is simply gorgeous. A huge centre console and deep dashboard dominate the front of the car, yet the analogue clock, which sits between two air vents on the top of the dash adds a retro touch to a thoroughly modern car.
When you get into the XJ, the instrument panel is black, apart from a silver Jaguar, leaping across the display. Press the start button and a virtual instrument panel appears. There are three dials, the larger central one is the speedometer, with fuel and temperature gauges on the left, and a rev counter on the right. Activate the radar cruise control though, and it changes, to show a diagram of the car and its preset distance to the vehicle in front, while the left-hand dial also displays sat nav instructions while on the move.
To the left, is an 8in touch screen, which doubles as a TV, and controls most the car’s main functions. The Dual View system, allows the front seat passenger to watch TV while the driver can only see the sat nav screen – it’s brilliantly clever.
The car I tested was packed with every gadget I could possibly think of as well as a few I couldn’t. The seats for example, will not only heat you in the winter, or cool you in the summer, but they will also give you a massage! Even the steering wheel was heated to keep your mitts warm now the weather’s turning a bit chilly, and the climate system divides the interior into four separate zones.
On the road, the big Jag is an impressive beast. The ride quality is superb and progress almost silent. Even fairly major imperfections in the road surface are dismissed with disdain. The Jaguar XJ is an effortless car to drive and despite its size, doesn’t feel like a big once on the move. It will deliver you to your destination as fresh as a daisy, and during a 200-plus mile round trip to Staffordshire, it returned an impressive 38mpg overall.
Twist the gear selector to sport and select the dynamic setting, and this big cat reveals another side to its character – a surprisingly agile one. With a 0-62mph time of just 6 seconds, and impressive levels of grip, it all adds up to an engagingly quick cross-country car. There aren’t many cars which could out-run this Jaguar, and the driver can change gear with the steering wheel mounted paddles should they wish to.
The XJ then is a hugely impressive car. As plush as they come, it is also luxuriously comfortable and surprisingly nimble. It’s an impressive all rounder, but with prices for the range starting from £54,000, so it should be.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Jaguar XJ 3.0 diesel Portfolio SWB.
JAGUAR XJ RANGE: From 3.0 V6 Diesel Luxury (£53,900) to 5.0 Supercharged Supersport LWB (£91,000).
ENGINE: 2,993cc, 275PS V6 engine, driving rear wheels through 6-speed automatic gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 184g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 155mph. 0-62mph in 6.0 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 29.6mpg.
Fuel tank: 82 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 49.
WARRANTY: 3 years/Unlimited mileage.