BMW’s been having a go for decades, and Audi joined the party a decade-and-a-half ago with the all-aluminium A8. Neither has dethroned the S-Class.
There’s one rival that’s been around far longer, though. The Jaguar XJ. Since 1968, it has been offering a British take on German business leader luxury. And now, an all-new car is here.
With it, Jaguar aims to do as it has always done. Be the leftfield person’salternative to the all-ruling S-Class.
Class-leading sales are not the intent here. Jaguar is a different sort of car company, chasing a more specialised market than Mercedes-Benz. That much is evident in the remarkable look chosen for the new XJ. Like no other rival in this sector, it stands out. Indeed, so distinctive and ‘premium’ does it look, consider it a realistic cut-price alternative to a Bentley Continental Flying Spur…
Offered in standard and long-wheelbase guise, the lightweight aluminium XJ is one of the most eye-catching cars on sale. The roofline is like that of the XK coupe, the flanks are edgy and bold, and the huge grille glints between two moodily-profiled complex-shape headlights. From many angles, it really is genuinely different indeed.
Likewise the interior. One of Jaguar’s stated USPs is to do interiors like no other car – so, distinct to this sector is a low, cocooning cabin that wraps passengers up rather than leaving them lounging about. Sure, it’s roomy, particularly the legroom-tastic XJ L, but those inside also feel they’re sitting ‘within’ the car, right away giving it a sportier feel.
Touch-screens and digital displays abound, and some of the detailing is like that of a designer watch. It’s nicely finished and a pleasure to spend time within. Mind you, such character is also evident in the way it drives. Who says big luxury cars have to drive like, well, big luxury cars? Jaguar, it seems, prefers to let them drive like sports saloons – and if the ride quality has a firm edge to it as a consequence, then so be it.
Those coming from an S-Class will thus be puzzled at first, by the tautness of the ride. Potholes in town centres? Sure, even though they don’t crash or bang, you’re still aware they’re there.
This is intentional. Because Jaguar intended to give a distinctive feel to the drive of the XJ. With superb body control and fluid damping on undulating roads, it is very planted feels secure – and handles exceedingly well. Minimal roll and light, precise
steering means it never feels the large car it is.
How the company has shrunken the XJ here is really quite special.
Nearly every model will be sold with a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. Producing 275bhp, there’s no shortage of surge. Add in the fact it’s the lightest luxury car you can buy, for a winning combination of 40mpg and 60mph in six seconds. You can get V8 petrols, both standard and supercharged – but really, diesel is all you need.
Consideration for retained values means even the standard car contains all buyers need for good used returns, too. Sat nav is included, as is Bluetooth and leather, meaning the move up from Luxury to Premium Luxury and Portfolio models is a matter of definition by trim, wheels and decadence. And, even then, it will be cheaper than the Bentley.
No doubt about it, Jaguar has created something really special with the new XJ, that’s distinctive and out of the ordinary despite being sold in a traditionally conservative sector.
The fact that it isn’t chasing record-breaking sales has allowed it to do this, yet we reckon it could well end up at the top of the sales charts. A trio of hits for Jaguar car dealers, then? Looks like the cat really is back…
by RICHARD AUCOCK