Jaguar looks to have commenced work on the next generation XJ, with a source close to Jaguar suggesting the brand is in the process of confirming drivetrains and styling for the car ahead of a launch date around 2019 or 2020.
The current Jaguar XJ, which has been on sale since 2009, pushed the brand forward in terms of technology — and especially in body construction. It was one of the first modern luxury cars on the market to use an aluminium body, which was pioneered by the previous-generation XJ.
The XJ benefitted from a mid-life update recently, but remains somewhat dated in terms of technology and the levels of luxury on offer from its competitors — namely the much newer Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
According to our source, Jaguar is in the process of determining whether the vehicle will take the shape of something like a Porsche Panamera (a swooping hatchback luxury sedan), or whether the brand will venture more toward an S-Class shape.
Jaguar only sells around 20,000 XJs globally each year, with Australia making up less than 2 per cent of that figure with under 50 sales nationally.
In comparison, Mercedes-Benz sells over 300 S-Class models in Australia each year, with the Porsche Panamera coming in at 56 units and the Maserati Quattroporte sitting pretty at 59 (all for calendar year 2015).
According to Jaguar Australia managing director, Matthew Wiesner, the XJ sits amongst peers from Aston Martin, Maserati and Porsche, along with its natural German competitors.
“The Jaguar XJ may be compared to the Aston Martin, Maserati or the Porsche, due to its level of performance and its handling characteristics," Wiesner said.
"The refinement, luxury and craftsmanship in an XJ would also see it compared equally with the offerings from the German manufacturers.”
The XJ currently weighs in at 1765kg, making it around 200kg lighter than the equivalent S-Class. In comparison to the Quattroporte, it's also around 200kg lighter, but on par with the Panamera, which comes in at around 1700kg depending on guise.
The lightweight nature of the shell is expected to shed even more weight with the new model, skewing the vehicle toward a sports luxury vehicle, as opposed to the limousine shape and form it currently takes.
CarAdvice understands that Jaguar is also investigating the use of hybrid technology to further enhance the appeal of the XJ.
Wiesner suggested that, much like the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series, the XJ will remain at the forefront of technology and engineering for the brand moving forward.
"The XJ will remain the pinnacle of our Jaguar sports saloon range and will be the showcase for new and cutting-edge Jaguar technologies now and into the future. The XJ truly encapsulates the art of performance," Wiesner said.
"I think as a business, the whole portfolio, if you forget the legislation, the engine is a really sweet engine and there's a lot to be said for that badge. I think we can develop it further and I think customers like it. It's a great engine"
"I think there's going to be customer demand for that engine or variations of that engine for some time to come. We need to look at our portfolio because that's how we get measure and work out how many engines like that we can sell and still meet our obligations. It's still got some legs.
"Development...almost definitely. We're going to continue to develop the engine."
On the XJ, Edwards said that it's a challenging segment, especially the task of getting people into an XJ and to sample the Jaguar offering.
"It's a difficult segment, the executive segment. It's quite challenging. One of my favourite cars in our entire line up is the XJR...I think our real challenge is to get people to reassess that car.
"It's a super car to drive — I love the way it's slightly understated and doesn't shout too much about being a performance car."
MORE: 2016 Jaguar XJR Review