We Review the Jaguar XJ and our verdict: It's 100 percent a Beautiful Fast Car
It’s big, beautiful and fast, but right now the Jaguar XJ is in pure ‘Dynamic Mode’ mode as we thread together a series of wickedly tight bends at a punishing pace and the car’s composure is in a class of its own.
Trucks and the lack of general maintenance have decimated the road surface we’re driving on but you wouldn’t know it from behind the wheel of the new Jaguar XJ. Already I like this car.
This is no ordinary cat. It’s the spanking new Jaguar XJ 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged Portfolio armed with a no-nonsense 346 kW and 575 Nm of torque and capable of blasting from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds.
Squeeze on the throttle and there’s a definite urgency but power delivery is so velvety smooth that it always feels civilized regardless of how quickly the needle inside the rev gauge is rising.
For those who want even more excitement (for some it’s never enough), then you’ll probably want to step up to the weapons grade XJ Supersport with its 375kW-supercharged V8 and grin inducing 625 Nm of torque, to help things along.
For those of you commuting long distances each day to the office or to the weekend farm or beach house, you might want to consider the diesel option.
The XJ 3.0D Premium Luxury gives nothing away to its petrol powered siblings in its 250km/h top speed (limited) yet this is a car that despite it’s size, sips fuel at the remarkable rate of 7.01 litres/100km.
It’s also one of quietest diesel powered cars I’ve ever driven, and there is no audible way you will pick it as a diesel over 1000 rpm, unless someone spills the beans.
With 202kW and a 600 Nm dose of torque, this greener Jag is no slouch. Drop your right foot and 0-100km/h is accomplished in just 6.4 seconds while emitting just 184g/km of CO2. It also happens to be the entry level XJ and at less than two hundred grand, this will be the popular choice.
At just over 5.1-metres long, the XJ is a seriously big car and that’s in short wheel base guise. The long wheel base version adds another 125 millimetres for that limo style legroom in the rear although, clever design means that you’ll be hard pressed to pick it from the exterior view.
Behind the wheel though, you won’t know you’re driving a car of such proportions, except of course, if you happen to foolishly end up in a Sydney CBD carpark spiraling your way down ten floors to the public section, where even a ‘smart’ car might have issues.
This is a large car that drives like a its smaller Jaguar XF sibling, despite its length. That’s hardly surprising given the XJ’s aluminium construction, means it actually weighs slightly less than its XF equivalent, and is at least 150 kilograms lighter than any of its German rivals.
Handling is in the master class too with point accurate steering and super agile cornering, even in the hairpins. The more we pushed the XJ, the better the dampers seemed to work. There’s no harsh rebound or hint of bump steer, even on these patchwork roads.
However, I wouldn’t call the overall ride supple. The big 20-inch alloys follow every pimple and crevice in the road (good thing) but the ride quality on some surfaces has been compromised in the interest of exceptional handling and driver enjoyment. I’m not complaining, but there are some buyers who might be expecting a softer and more compliant ride from Jaguar’s flagship model.
Best practice insulation ensures life inside the cabin of the XJ is library quiet, but that doesn’t stop the glorious supercharged V8 engine note from being heard, as you exploit one of the world’s smoothest shifting automatic gearboxes by German manufacturer, ZF.
Jaguar engineers saw absolutely no need for any fancy seven or eight speed boxes in the XJ, six does the job nicely and also means less weight. This has to be one of the few traditional automatic gearboxes made, which successfully pairs up with a set of quick shifting paddles as well as any dual clutch unit does although, its disappointing to see them finished in plastic rather a more sophisticated brushed metal look.
After 50 kilometres of perfectly dry conditions, we drove head first into an afternoon of wet and windy roads, and the XJ didn’t flinch. The grip from the extra wide rubber at the rear is prodigious, while the occasional oversteer situation was easily corrected before Jaguar’s electronic nannies kicked in.
The brakes got a proper workout too but don’t expect any fade from these monster discs (380mm front, 376mm rear) no matter how hard you push. Pedal pressure is also beautifully progressive and surefooted, without being grabby.
Looks are always subjective when it comes to cars but make no mistake, the 2011 Jaguar XJ is a bona-fide head turner, and it’s the average punter on the street that’s doing the head turning.
‘Beautiful Fast Cars’ is the current company edict and it’s what every living soul at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich factory dreams about after they hit the lights out switch each night.
It all started with the legendary English design guru Ian Callum (he’s most noted for the Aston Martin DB7) and the launch of the XK Series in 2006. This was the first Jaguar design with a Callum stamp, which thankfully saw the end of those retro-modern designs of preceding years.
Callum produced yet another ‘beautiful fast car’ in 2008 with release of XF, a thoroughly contemporary Jaguar, which has continued to collect countless design awards, both for its exterior and interior design executions.
With the new XJ flagship, Jaguar has leapfrogged the competition with a bold design, and what a looker it is.
This is a car that’s been a long time coming. The last of the previous generation Jaguar XJ was simply the final installment in an update program dating back to the original XJ Series 1 of 1968.
This was undoubtedly most beautiful saloon car of its time and even prompted Jaguar’s founder, Sir William Lyons to appear on a TV advertisement calling the car “the finest Jaguar ever”.
The Jaguar XJ6 was in a different league to its German rivals when it came to blending style and luxury with on road performance and like the pervious XK Series Jaguar, it had no peers in the sports saloon category.
If the interior cabin of the Jaguar XJ were a hotel, it would be a blend of the Dorchester and London’s premier boutique place to stay, The Hempel.
You’ll immediately be aware of the JaguarDrive Control rising out of the centre console as you fire up the engine via the red-lit starter button.
The Dual view touch screen is also a familiar import from the XF but that’s about where the similarities end and the Jaguar XJ dash starts to look more like that on board the super luxurious Riva ‘Aquariva Super’ speed boat.
The entire cabin is upholstered in some of the finest softgrain leather this side of a Rolls Royce Phantom, and is finished off with a contrasting twin stitch. Where there’s no leather, you’ll find plenty of exquisite gloss burr walnut veneer, and not just a few thin strips of the stuff, these inlays would measure 10 or more centimeters wide in places.
I’m all for analogue clocks and this superb blue faced piece in the centre of the dash looks like it’s from a high end watchmaker although, sadly, there is no branding to speak of.
The three central instrument roundels are in fact virtual dials and as such, can be altered in colour, as well as the information appears on them. That might seem a tad gimmicky, but they are actually quite functional and very cool.
Few will argue that the softgrain leather seats in the Jaguar XJ are anything but comfortable. They’re better than that, and are regrettably more sumptuous than the $8,000 Chaise lounge we have just ordered from Harvey Norman.
My problem is with the front seats, there's not enough side bolster, at least not in the high-powered supercharged versions. Perhaps a set of more aggressively bolstered sports leather seats could be a sought after option on these particular variants.
While front and side vision in the Jaguar XJ is excellent, it’s not such a good look through the rear vision mirror. The relatively small rear window is further compromised by the centre brake light, which is mounted at the bottom of the glass rather than a thin LED strip at the top.
I had no idea that there was a better sounding or more powerful audio system than the brilliant 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system from the Aston Martin DBS. There is - and it’s called the Bowers & Wilkins 1200W premium sound system, and it’s standard fitment on the Supercharged XJ’s.
Believe me when I say you want this twenty-speaker (Kevlar cones) system. I was streaming a Roisin Murphy ‘house’ number off my iphone and maxed out the volume, and not only was there zero distortion but the sheer power of the speakers was literally moving my body.
The all-new Jaguar XJ is already a success in the UK with over 600 sold in the first full month of sales, and Ian Callum’s Jaguar line-up is almost complete, but for one last space in the company stable.
What is sadly missing from the current model line-up is a proper two-seat roadster every bit the looker that was (and still is) the incomparable E-Type Roadster only this time, a sports car that can compete head-to-head with likes of a Porsche Cayman in the handling department. That’s what I’ll be dreaming about after I flick the lights out tonight.
Driven – Jaguar XJ 5.0 Supercharged SWB: RRP $311,000
Driven – Jaguar XJ 3.0D Premium Luxury SWB: RRP $198,800
- Jaguar XJ 3.0D LWB Premium Luxury: RRP $206,800
- Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 SWB Premium Luxury: RRP $251,000
- Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 LWB Premium Luxury: RRP $259,000
- Jaguar XJ 5.0 V8 SWB Portfolio: RRP $274,800
- Jaguar XJ 5.0 S/C SWB Supersport (375kW): RRP $354,800
- Jaguar XJ 5.0 S/C LWB Supersport (375kW): RRP $367,800