by: Jag Dhatt
It had been two years since I drove the current generation Jaguar XJ – yes, not much has changed for the 2015 model, but when the test vehicle became available, I just knew I had to drive it again. There’s something about the Jaguars, both the XF and the XJ, that have appealed to me since they were completely redone and introduced a few years ago. My test vehicle was the non-badged XJ Sport in beautiful Italian Racing Red metallic paint, complete with 20” Orona polished wheels and illumination package. Although I would have loved the V8, I settled for the AWD supercharged V6, which is, trust me, enough for daily driving purposes.
The “new” XJ body style has been around since it was first unveiled in 2009, where it first broke away from the classic Jaguar mold. The XJ is a big car and from any angle, it cannot be mistaken for anything else, except a Jaguar. While some luxury sedans share some similarity in their conservative shapes, the 2015 XJ continues with its distinct and elegant exterior. The Jag is curvaceous, and its flowing lines are absolutely stunning. The front end is muscular, yet chic at the same time. The rear casket-like look of the car is like no other vehicle and takes some time getting used, but the cat’s claw tail lamps are to be admired. With a car like the XJ, people take notice; no wonder it’s M’s choice of vehicle in the James Bond movies.
The interior of the XJ is exactly what one would expect from Jaguar, featuring contemporary aluminum, gorgeous real wood veneers and form-hugging supple leather. The cabin accurately reflects the size of the car – it is open and spacious, at the front anyways. The standard glass panoramic roof not only allows the occupants of the vehicle to relish the world from a new perspective, but also floods the cabin with natural light, making it feel more airy. The one option every buyer should get is the Jet SuedeCloth headliner, which adds a high level of richness and elegance to the cabin. The Virtual Instrument Panel continues to replace the conventional dashboard cluster with a 12.3” TFT screen. This virtual dashboard displays a selection of gauges that appear as solid 3-D instruments, and they change colour to reflect the selected driving mode. At the center of the dash sits a single 8-inch intuitive touch-screen display, which controls most aspects of the audio, telephone, navigation and climate systems. I have to say that Jaguar has made one of the most user-friendly, functional, and simplistic designs for the touch screen I’ve seen, something which complements Jaguar’s philosophy – simplicity and elegance. The system is, however, sluggish at times, especially when using the Bluetooth. Most of us are glad that a new system will be in the new model.
Sitting in the front seats really allows you to appreciate the layout of the Jaguar XJ – it is futuristic, but not in any overpowering way. Now, one aspect of the car that surprises most who see it and then get into it, is the lack of rear leg and headroom. The sloping roof looks great, but is a compromise for taller rear passengers. Compared to the BMW 7-series and the Audi A8, passengers in the rear seat of the XJ will be in for a surprise, and not in the positive way. Moving back to the driver seat, press the pulsating phosphorus blue start button, and the dramatic JaguarDrive gear selector rises from the center console, waking the feline from its sleep. It’s not really practical, but is one of the coolest innovations on any car.
On the road, this is an amazing sedan to drive. Since 2013, thankfully, the XJ has come standard with the supercharged 3.0L V6, which produces 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Power is smooth and at higher rpm’s, you can hear the whining of the supercharger, which will launch this cat from 0-96 km/h in just 5.7 seconds, which is surprisingly quick for a big car. Throw in the ZF 8-speed transmission and all-wheel drive, and the XJ is the perfect sport sedan for any day of the year. Around the city, the big car feels very nimble; turning corners and parking is a breeze, thanks to front and rear parking sensors. The suspension is better than in previous years – it is now softer and more sophisticated, absorbing minor bumps and imperfections of the road, providing a smooth and quiet ride. On the open road, throw the shifter into sport mode, engage Dynamic Drive and the timid cat morphs into a hungry lion. With Sport Mode and Dynamic Mode activated, the gears and rpm’s shifts are optimized for a pure performance driving experience.
One aspect of the car that many dislike, but I find is a great economical and environmentally friendly addition, is the Start/Stop technology. Similar to BMW, Audi, and other brands, when the Jaguar XJ comes to a stop, the motor turns off, conserving fuel. Take your foot off the brake and the engine fires back up ever so slightly, and you’re on your way. This technology is turned on by default, but can easily be turned off with a push of a button. During my week with the car, I had a combined fuel economy of 10.8L/100 km – that’s pretty impressive for an all-wheel drive, supercharged V6. This is an improvement of 11% in the city and 22% on the highway when compared with the previous V8 engine. If you don’t care for fuel economy, then opt for the available, head-snapping 5.0L V8 supercharged engine, which offers 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque on the XJR. I can only imagine the power that is harnessed under that hood.
With a starting price of just under $90, 000 the supercharged V6 all-wheel drive XJ comes very well loaded: dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, electric sunroof, rear park assist, heated power front seats, a 7-inch intuitive touch-screen, bi-xenon headlights, LED tail lights, 10-speaker Meridian audio system, intelligent start/stop technology, JaguarDrive Control with sport mode, Dynamic Mode, Winter Mode, paddle shifters, heated steering wheel with full audio/phone controls, and automatic headlights, just to name a few. If you’re the kind of person who wants more space, then go for the XJL Portfolio edition, which adds 130mm (about 5 inches) of extra rear legroom, which your rear passengers will appreciate for sure.
As mentioned in my previous review of the XF, and now with the XJ, I have come to appreciate Jaguar’s new models much more as compared to previous generations. The new XJ is a beautiful and sophisticated automobile and needs to be driven to be appreciated. Now, I can’t wait for the XE.