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Words: Tim Barnes-Clay
Featured in the April 2015 issue

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Jaguars are well known for their elegant, sporting lines, and the Jaguar XJ, with its sinuous, contemporary style doesn’t disappoint.

The strong, muscular lower half of the car is contrasted with the slim and graceful quality of the roofline, which takes inspiration from the original 1968 XJ saloon and the front of the car is very commanding with a large grille and an assertive face.

At the rear, the car has a clean, sculpted shape, with an absence of unnecessary ornamentation. The sheet metal of the back panel retains its pure form, with a single leaping Jaguar motif making a strong, self-possessed statement. The LED light clusters wrap stylishly over the rear wings, and feature three dramatic red, vertical strips. It’s all extremely attractive.

Step inside the XJ long-wheelbase (LWB) model, on test here, and you’ll see rear cabin luxury options which include ‘airline’ style reclining seats with massage function, increased headroom and fold-out business tables. The entertainment system has been improved with two high-resolution touchscreens, and a specially re-tuned rear suspension set-up enhances rear seat ride comfort too.

The overriding impression is a sense of personal space – a feeling enhanced by the simple form of the leather-wrapped instrument panel sitting low across the vehicle. At the sides of the cabin, a daring architectural wood veneer sweeps forward from the doors to meet at the front of the car, emphasising the Jaguar XJ’s potent, dynamic character. This linear, modern use of wood helps to create a truly welcoming atmosphere.

Behind the wheel, you’re greeted by the rotary control of the JaguarDrive selector, which, on start-up, rises into your palm. Then 3D animations materialise in the virtual instrument cluster and on the central touchscreen. But the weirdest thing is that there’s no physical instrument cluster display. Instead, a high-definition screen, which uses delightfully detailed virtual instruments, provides all of the functions performed by traditional dials. It creates a genuine sense of theatre, but more importantly it works well.

Under the bonnet, the XJ diesel benefits from a powerful and efficient 3.0-litre V6 powertrain, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The lump, boosted by twin turbochargers, propels the car from 0–62mph in just 6.4 seconds, then up to 155mph. It feels every bit as fast behind the wheel as it suggests it is on paper; it’s an awesome sensation – reminiscent of taking off in a plane.

But it isn’t all about muscle; on the move in the Midlands-made big cat the low level of road rumble means you can chat with your passengers without the need to shout. Even when you bury your right foot into the shag pile carpet there’s not much more than a low grunt from the twin exhaust pipes. In fact, it’s very difficult to tell it apart from a petrol-powered car once it’s cruising. 

Indeed, the XJ LWB model makes every journey a special occasion, both for you and your passengers, but this level of sophistication doesn’t come cut-price. You’ll have to splash close to £60,000 for the Luxury 3.0 V6 Diesel version and you’ll need to have even deeper pockets if you want to drive the higher-up-the-range XJ Portfolio.

Price: £59,980 on the road.

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