The previous XJ aged not only quickly, but poorly – in my opinion. The fact that the new XJ looks more like a ‘normal’ car may not be a bad thing. Although normal, the Jaguar has an array of high-tech elements both inside and outside, including the space age gear selector that rises from the centre console as the car powers on – the sort of design element my six-year-old self would have imagined the cars of the future to have. The interior is more simplistic than previous versions, with certain design cues taken from the aeronautical industry, making the inside a great place to be. My only criticism is the rear seating position which (even after minutes of fiddling with switches) felt too high and a little exposed.
Strangely a number of large cars with huge price tags fall down on the electronics. The screens, the stereo, the navigation system – some people with an aggravating penchant for merging words keep calling it ‘infotainment’, the funts. The Jaguar does not – in fact it excels. The front screen can show the driver and front passenger two separate images at any one time, the front screen can also take control of everything in the rear. To be perfectly honest, the car stacks up against the greats, it’s not as spacious as the Bentley Mulsanne or as quiet as a Rolls Royce Phantom, but how could it be, it costs a fraction, a small fraction at that. To be fair, you shouldn’t compare the two, it’s pointless. However I do enjoy the fact that you could buy three XJs and a couple of drivers for the same money.
Let’s be more practical, how does it stack up to the Mercedes S Class or the BMW 7 Series, both of which beat the XJ on technology? The S Class is the default, so much so that it feels like a taxi, it’s an impressive car, but that’s why everyone chooses it. The BMW 7 Series is exceptionally comfortable, so simple and clean inside, but it doesn’t really deliver much of a driving experience.
The Jaguar offers an interesting alternative. A car you won’t see everywhere else, a car you’ll enjoy driving as much as you’ll enjoy being driven in. Something with a little more soul. Oh, and you should check out the 550 HP XJR too, with a limited top speed of 174 mph and 0-60 in a champagne-spilling 4.4 seconds.
For more information on the new XJ visit www.jaguar.co.uk