If you think the Jaguar XF was a revolution in design, then the latest edition of the flagship XJ blows the doors off automotive conservatism.
It was much the same scenario in 1968, when the much heralded release of Jaguar’s XJ6, re-wrote the design rules for cars in the luxury sports segment.
Never before had a large four-door sedan, looked so beautifully poised and sports like; this was a cut above anything out of Germany at the time.
This latest iteration of the XJ was a much-anticipated reveal judging by just how difficult it was to secure a quality vantage point, from which to shoot the big cat.
And big it is, especially the long wheel base version, this is a car that her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll all will be thoroughly impressed with, if it were chosen as part of the Royal fleet.
While there’s no mistaking the front of the car for the latest Jaguar given the continuation of the DNA from the superb XF series cars, the remainder of the car is where Ian Callum and his design team have pushed the Jaguar marque well and truly into the 21
For me, I see a touch of Maserati or perhaps Bentley Continental, but wherever the inspiration came from, it has worked; the 2010 Jaguar XJ is a standout car, which may well push it to very top of its luxury class.
The design revolution continues unabated with the interior of the XJ too, with what must be a shoe in, for a stack of design awards from the world’s motoring press, in due course.
My immediate reaction to the interior fit out, is both sumptuous and refreshingly minimalist.
I count just five dials on the centre stack, so you won’t get confused when trying to work out how to switch the air-conditioning on and the same goes for the music, and what a system it is.
In my opinion, there are precious few audio brands which measure up, when it comes to optimising their systems for the car, Harmon Kardon do it right, as does Bang and Olufsen with their 1000 watt audio unit found in Aston Martin’s Volante.
Bowers and Wilkins make some of the world’s best high-end speakers, but usually for the home based, cashed up, audiophiles and professional recording companies, such as Abbey Road Studios and Deutsche Grammophon.
What they have achieved with Jaguar, and specifically the XJ, is nothing short of ground breaking in the automotive world.
There are no less than twenty speakers, many of them with signature yellow Kevlar cones, which are driven by an astonishing 1200W amplifier mounted in the boot.
The entire system is connected to the head unit in the dash via Optic fibre links and to quote Matt Jones, Jaguar’s audio expert,
“It’s just like IMAX for the car”
The aroma from the leather trim is simply is intoxicating, and while I’ve only sat in the car for a few a minutes, the sumptuous leather seats are some of the best in the business, luxurious and yet plenty of bolster to hold you in place during a fast corner or two.
Cutting edge technology, which we saw earlier in the week when we drove the new Range Rover models, is shared with Jaguar, and that includes the futuristic 12.3-inch high-definition Virtual Instruments screen and the Dual-View touch screen, which allows the front passenger to watch a movie, while the driver is focused on the car’s speed or satellite navigation route.
Power is something Jaguar’s flagship saloons have ever been short of, and now with a choice of three brand new class-leading engines, the cat is as quick as ever.
And don’t think for one moment, that by ordering the diesel that you’re going to be outgunned in any way.
The new XJ 3.0-litre is super smooth, super quiet and will accelerate from 0-100km/h in a rapid 6.4 seconds.
At the other end of the model range, you can go for the 5.0-litre V8 Supersport Supercharged and things get a whole lot more urgent.
With 375kW and a whopping 625Nm of torque on tap from between 2500-5500 that same sprint will take just 4.9 seconds, and that’s quick in any language.
In between, there are two other versions of the powerful V8 powertrain, one naturally aspirated, and one supercharged.
I also heard whispers from several key players within Jaguar, that a proper two-seat sports car is well under way, which will undoubtedly set a cat among the pigeons!