Jaguar XJ car review
- We like...Cabin is special; exceptional ride
- We don't...Close to faultless
To create a new Jaguar that’s truly modern, the make reached back far into its past. Where the original XJ shocked at launch for its radical styling and design innovation, none of the cars that followed in its 40-year history had as much impact.
Until now. Jaguar already knew from the success of the XJ’s little brother, the XF, that future models had to look ahead. And the best way for the make to ensure this was to return to the 1960s – Jaguar’s golden age – and recapture the boldness that its designers and company planners showed then. No surprise then that the newest XJ is so utterly different to what’s gone before.
True, there’s a family resemblance to its acclaimed little brother, the XF and there’s even some carry-over from the last XJ – check out the mesh front grille and the sculpted cooling ducts let into its front flanks. Even so, your first glimpse of the car will, regardless of how you feel about Jags, leave you gasping in surprise.
It’s striking rather than pretty but – and this is crucial – works the trick of looking eager and quick while it’s still sat at the kerb-side. It’s something old-school Jags had, but later cars just couldn't manage. Go look at an E-type and you’ll see what we mean.
Drop into the driver’s seat and that mix of the old and strikingly new continues. You sit low as you should in a Jag, very much ‘in’ the car and it immediately feels involving because of the big console to the left and the closeness of the wheel: both Jag hallmarks. The sheer drama of the four chromed monster-sized air vents that dominate the dash is something you’ll not be prepared for. They are a great feature, though, and very efficient, too.
Thumb the stop-start button and the big, silver knob controlling the auto gearbox rises from the transmission tunnel, just as it does in the XF. It’s a lovely touch and one that lends a sense of occasion to every journey. The instruments in this car are ‘virtual’ – the panel ahead of the driver is a computer screen on which images of dials appear. If you’re using the sat-nav a graphic showing the correct route for, say, a roundabout will appear as needed, taking the place of the left-side gauges.
What’s more, the area of the speedo around the pointer brightens, to focus attention. It’s clever but not especially useful. The cabin is roomy - which is new for an XJ6 - and exceptionally comfortable. It you want still more rear-seat space, there's a long wheelbase version that adds 155mm legroom.
Under way, the car is simply superb. Despite its size (5.2 metres long, 2.1 metres across) it is nimble, even on a narrow lane and, wherever you go, it feels smaller than it is. The ride is firm but also marvellously absorbent. Even if the surface is poor, it simply smoothes away the bumps while keeping the car taut and fully under control.
Then there’s the engine. The six-cylinder diesel in ours is uber-smooth, quick and quiet unless extended. It really is one of the best.
Extensive use of aluminium in its build keeps it light: hence its 6.0sec 0-60mph and 40mpg overall. Still, it feels rock-solid on the road.
Should you buy one? At £64,000 for our top-spec Portfolio model, it’s expensive by anyone’s measure. But it is such a terrific car that it beats anything similar for the money. If you’re after a luxury saloon, this is as good as it gets for now.
- Engines3.0 V6 diesel
- 0-60 mph6.0secs
- Insurance groups49
Motors.co.uk value verdict: