The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, for as long as I can remember, has been driven around in a Jaguar XJ. This is the first little piece of trivia that pops into my mind when I see I’m scheduled for a test drive.
The Jaguar XJ is a handsome beast, a good looking brute in a playground dominated by Germans. The Mercedes Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-Series, the Audi A8 – all formidable competition. But there is something that sets the Jag apart, and I’ve been trying to work out what it is.
Jaguar XJ Review by Ciro De Siena
Exterior StylingFor decades, Jaguar as a brand seemed to wander a bit. The brand tried to bring antiquity to the modern era with the S-Type, which looked frankly dull. Then it tried to play in the compact executive sedan segment with the X-Type, which was a bit of a flop.
Then Tata stepped in and injected some desperately needed cash, and all of a sudden the Big Cat could stretch its claws and show what it was capable of. And it was capable of one of the most striking executive limos the world had ever seen.
The Jaguar XJ is bold, has bucketloads of presence and managed to even look sporting. While BMW was playing with something called the Bangle Butt – a sort of melted boot arrangement – the Jaguar XJ arrived with a very sexy rear indeed. For the latest model year, the lines haven’t changed at all.
Interior StylingThe leatherwork in the Jag is remarkable, if not for the stitching, then for the sheer quantity of hide making up the cabin. Smooth black leather stretches all the way up to the windscreen, and meets an amphitheatre design which connects the doors with a large Jaguar logo in the centre of the dash. The now quite-famous Jaguar gear knob, which is literally a knob, rises out of the centre console on start up. This is very entertaining.
Piano black inserts in the doors and surrounding the touch screen and switchgear are pure class. It’s quite straightforward in here, but very elegant. There isn’t as much rear leg room as I would have expected in such a big car, so make sure you hire a short chauffer. But all four passengers will nonetheless be very comfortable indeed.
The centre screen has a neat party trick, which debuted a little while ago on the Range Rover. Clever pixel arrangements meant that at the touch of a button, the passenger and driver can look at the same physical screen, while seeing two completely different displays. This never grows old and will have your passengers leaning over to check, because they won’t believe you. But the benefits are that as the driver you can have the SatNav running, while the passenger can change the radio station, for instance.
It’s very quiet in the cabin, something which is a combination of sound deadening materials and an excellent suspension system.
Ride and HandlingA few friends wanted to visit a wine farm yesterday, and I said I would happily drive them out in the Jaguar XJ. Immediately this became more of an event. It would have been equally fun in say, a Mercedes or Audi, but now it was…an event. We were going to Franschhoek in a Jag.
But before we knew it, we had arrived, without really feeling like we had driven anywhere at all. And that, I suppose, is almost entirely the point of a luxury car. To cosset its passengers so quietly and so comfortably to their destination, that they almost feel like they’ve had a nice nap.
The ride is incredibly smooth and handles road imperfections by perhaps just flattening them with its bulk. Flick it into Sport mode and the Jaguar XJ can hustle, but then you almost feel guilty. It’s just not that sort of car.
Engine Specs and PowerThe test unit had a brand new supercharged three litre V6 – an engine Jaguar is very proud of indeed. It draws on many technologies from their award winning 5.0 litre supercharged V8, including direct injection, variable valve timing and aluminium construction.
The Jaguar XJ is a big car, but this engine is more than up to the task of hauling it around. In fact, in some situations it almost feels too quick as in gear with a few revs on the dial, the engine response is immediate. At 120km/h in normal drive mode, overtaking is easy as the 8 speed transmission drops a few cogs, the engine takes a deep breath and the big cat makes a leap forward. Not a dramatic leap, not a V8 leap perhaps, but a very noticeable leap indeed.
With 250kW on tap, the Jaguar XJ reaches 0 – 100km/h in just 5.9 seconds (claimed), very quick for a car this size. The vehicles top speed is limited to 250km/h, while returning claimed fuel consumption of 9.4litres/100km.
SummaryWhile the Germans might offer a whack more tech in their luxo limos, the Jag offers something intangible, almost undefinable. There is a sense of occasion with this vehicle. Its good looks don’t shout “look at me” but when the car arrives, heads turn. It’s a pretty rare sight on our roads too.
The new engine is a peach and delivers incredible performance efficiently and smoothly. There’s perhaps not as much boot space as its rivals due to that tapered rear end, but other than that, I don’t think you’ll miss the Germans too much.
In fact, for character, looks and appeal, you might have to look to Italy and wait for the new Maserati Quattroporte.
Jaguar XJ - Price2013 Jaguar XJ - Starting from R1,081,900,00
RivalsThe BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S Class and Audi A8 are all worth a look. Bear in mind the new S Class will only be here next year. I do like the A8 very much, but it still looks a bit too much like the S6. The 7 Series is a solid contender, but is a bit humourless in its execution.
- BMW 740i (3.0litre turbocharged inline 6 cylinder) - Starting from R1,016,066
- Mercedes Benz S350 (outgoing model) - Starting from R1,045,957
- Audi A8 3.0T Quattro - Starting from R976,500,00