£62,360 - £83,105 Price range
The Jaguar XJ has always been the luxury saloon to have if you value a fun-driving experience, but newer rivals – chiefly the Mercedes S-Class, just-launched BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 – now offer more luxury and higher levels of technology.
At least that was the case with the old model. Differences between it and this facelifted version aren’t immediately apparent, but look closely and you’ll see the new car has a more upright grille sitting above a new bumper complete with chrome air vents, revised LED headlights and new tail lights.
Inside, there’s an updated infotainment system that for the first time understands ‘pinch’ and ‘swipe’ gestures much like your smartphone. The 12.3-inch display behind the steering wheel can also transform into a full-sized map for the car’s sat-nav.
One of the biggest technical changes is the adoption of an electric power-steering system, which helps to save a little fuel. It also assists Jaguar in fending of the technical tour de force that is the German competition by offering a number of new driver aids.
Work has also been done to improve the 3.0-litre diesel engine, which remains our pick of the range. It has had its power hiked from 275 to 300hp, while torque has increased by 16 per cent to 516Ib ft.
Buyers also get two new trims to choose form – sporty looking R-Line and range-topping Autobiography. The XJ is an expensive car so standard equipment is high even in cheapest Luxury spec. It comes with a leather interior, panoramic glass roof, keyless entry, heated front and rear seats, three-zone climate control and a powerful stereo.
While cars such as the Mercedes S-Class and new BMW 7 Series focus on making their interiors ultra high-tech, Jaguar prefers the more traditional approach. The first thing you notice is the low-slung driving position and sporty circular air vents. Large slabs of wood veneer and high quality leather is everywhere you look and appears more genuine than what rivals offer. Finishing touches include metal buttons and dials that are cold to the touch, plus cool-blue mood lighting that adds a modern twist.
While luxury fixtures and fittings are Jaguar’s bread and butter, clever kit isn’t so much – BMW and Mercedes still lead the way on this front. Nevertheless, with the new model comes an updated infotainment system that goes some way to levelling the playing field. It features an eight-inch display that can recognise the finger gestures that are second nature to smartphone users. Meanwhile the 12.3-inch display that replaces conventional dials can transform into a huge sat-nav screen. Testers report that it’s still not as smart looking as the Virtual Cockpit offered by Audi – but it gets close.
Jaguar XJ passenger space
With a steering wheel that adjusts electrically for rake and reach, getting comfortable behind the XJ’s steering wheel shouldn’t be an issue. Some may find the seats a little firm, but testers report the flip side is that they are very supportive. Driving a big beast such as the XJ may seem a little daunting if you’re new to a car of this size, but standard front and rear parking sensors make parking easy enough and, for a little extra help, you can now specify a 360-degree camera and auto park.
Some owners won’t need to worry about parking the large Jag, they have a driver for that, but rear passenger space will be important. That’s not been a strong suite for XJs in the past, which were hampered by the car’s low roofline, but thankfully the latest model is much better, particularly if you go for the long-wheelbase version. It is stretched by 125mm compared to the regular model. That all being said, headroom is still tighter than in a 7 Series or an S-Class and, while some may like the cocooning feel of the low-set seats, others may find it a little claustrophobic.
Either way, back seat passengers get plenty of optional toys to take their minds off the tight headroom, including electrically adjustable and massaging seats, separate ventilation controls, their own control console and the option to specify colour screens perched on the front seats’ backrests.
Jaguar XJ boot space
Whether you go for the short or long-wheelbase models, boot space remains the same at 479 litres and the rear seats can’t be folded down to boost luggage capacity. That puts the Jaguar behind all its mains competitors including the BMW 7 Series (515 litres) Mercedes S-Class (510 litres) and the Audi A8 (490 litres), but not so much that many will notice. As with most saloons, the XJ suffers from a high load lip and small boot opening that means bulky items are tricky to fit
It’s in its driving experience that the Jaguar puts some clean air between itself and the competition. Of the luxury limos that make up the class, it is arguably the only one that is truly fun to drive when the roads turn bendy. Testers report that the XJ manages to shrink around you, feeling like a smaller, more manoeuvrable car than it in fact is.
Much of this feeling is down to the car’s steering, which doesn’t seem to have been effected by the company’s move to electrical assistance – it feels precise and accurate. The steering even offers enough feedback to allow you to judge the car’s limits, while its weightiness (especially in Dynamic mode) makes the car reassuring in fast bends and the brakes are powerful, too.
As a passenger, though, it makes less sense. Both the BMW and Mercedes feature clever systems that can scan the surface of the road and setup the suspension accordingly. The Jaguar makes do with a more basic set-up with a selection of preset modes but, even in Comfort, reports say test cars fitted with 20-inch wheels transmitted bumps and ripples that would go unnoticed in the S-Class and 7 Series. The ride settles down at a fast cruise, but road roar form the huge tyres is a complaint at these speeds.
Like everywhere else in the car world right now, it’s the diesel model that dominates XJ sales and it’s had a major overhaul for this facelifted model – making it even quicker and more economical than the old version. If your well-heeled enough to run them, you also get a choice of three supercharged petrol engines – a 3.0-litre V6 and a V8 in two states of tune. There’s no manual gearbox option for the Jaguar XJ – all models come with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic.
Jaguar XJ diesel engine
While there’s was an outcry from Jaguar enthusiasts when the idea of a diesel XJ was originally muted, even some of them might admit to being wrong in hindsight. That’s because the latest 300hp 3.0-litre diesel is very impressive. It has the power to propel the big saloon from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds and on to a top speed that’s limited to a 155mph. The punch provided by the 516Ib ft of torque means that acceleration, even at high speeds, is effortless and the engine is barely ticking over at the UK’s 70mph legal limit.
Jaguar XJ petrol engine
For some, though, only a petrol engine will do and, as all are shared with the sporty F-Type, it’s no surprise to learn that they offer impressive performance. The supercharged 3.0-litre V6 kicks off the range, pumping out 340hp it matches the diesel for both top speed and acceleration (although it sounds much nicer doing it), but lags behind for running costs;you’ll be lucky to see better than 30mpg fuel economy and road tax is a lot more expensive.
Costing most of all to run are the two supercharged 5.0-litre V8s, neither of which will return better than 25.4mpg. With 40hp more than the standard V8, its the 550hp XJR that offers the strongest performance in the range. It can fire the big XJ from 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds – more than two seconds quicker than a super-light Caterham 7 track car – and is fastest model outright thanks to a speed limiter that’s been raised to a heady 174mph.
If there’s such a thing as an entry-level Jaguar XJ, the 3.0 V6 diesel is that car. That certainly doesn’t make it inferior though and in terms of economy, the petrol variants don’t get close. Jaguar quotes a combined figure of 40.1mpg, and a little less for the long-wheelbase car. Road tax is £210 a year.
Performance shouldn’t be an issue, at 6.4 seconds to 60mph, and all reviews comment on the diesel’s smoothness and near-silence. The large wallop of torque available at low revs makes fast and economical driving a breeze, say the critics. In fact, the only thing the engine can’t do as well as the V8s is entertain - several tests say the petrol cars add more to the Jaguar experience.
If economy isn’t your bag and you prefer more traditional Jaguar values of utter silence when cruising, a sporty bark when launching onto the motorway and creamy smoothness around town, then the naturally-aspirated V8 is the engine for you.
Critics say the smooth automatic gearbox is perfect for the V8 and allows you to waft along in the best Jaguar tradition. It’s completely free from vibration - even next to the already refined diesel - and offers effortless progress.
You’ll pay more at the pumps for the privilege - just under 25mpg is possible - and the tax man will benefit too, with band M coming in at £460 a year. Still, if you’re spending £65k on a car, you probably won’t care…
Where the XF uses the “R” moniker to distinguish the harder, faster supercharged model, the XJ gets “Supersport”. It suits the car’s character and the pace doesn’t disappoint. 5-litres of supercharged V8 get you 510bhp, 60mph in less than 5 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. You also get 23.4mpg and £460 a year road tax, but that’s missing the point.
The point, as all the experts point out, is a mix of incredible pace and traditional Jaguar smoothness and refinement whatever your speed. At idle or when cruising, the Supersport is described as “whisper quiet”. Wake the raging beast within and you get a V8 roar and the whine of a supercharger. It’s the ultimate XJ engine.
Euro NCAP judges the XJ to be too niche to be worthy of crash testing, but that hasn’t stopped the company boosting safety technology for the 2015 model.
The new additions come thanks to the use of electric power steering that makes a raft of additional features available, namely queue assist (which can steer the car in slow moving lines of traffic) and automatic parking. The latter can put the car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. Also new is a 360-degree camera that provides a birds-eye view of the road surrounding the car and adaptive cruise control. That lot adds to the list of kit that was available in the old model including blind spot monitoring, auto-dipping headlights, foglights that illuminate the bends and a bonnet that pops up to protect unwitting pedestrians from the car’s hard internals.
The Jaguar XJ can be specified in six different trim levels. XJ R-Sport and the Autobiography are new to the range for 2015. The former gives the car sporty looks, without the associated running costs of the fuel-guzzling XJR model, while the latter is the range’s new flagship.
Jaguar XJ Luxury
Luxury isn’t a word that you would usually associate with the entry level to a model range, but that’s what Jaguar call the XJ’s most basic trim level. Few people will argue with the terminology, because the cheapest model comes with executive trappings such as a leather interior, rosewood veneer trim, 10-way electrically adjustable front seats, a powerful Jaguar stereo, sat-nav and huge 19-inch alloy wheels.
Jaguar XJ Premium Luxury
To that generous standard specification, Premium Luxury adds a Meridan sound system, heated and cooled front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and its own unique design of 19-inch alloy wheels. Cheekily on Jaguar’s part, this is the first model that comes with metallic paint at no extra cost.
Jaguar XJ Portfolio
The Portfolio represent the middle of the range for potential XJ owners and is the first to be offered with 3.0-litre petrol power, rather than just the diesel. It too gets a Meridan sound system, but its power is boosted from 340w (in the Premium Luxury model) to an ear-drum-busting 825W here. Another likeable addition is Jaguar’s dual-screen eight-inch display that allows passengers to watch digital TV, while providing sat-nav directions to the driver. On top of all that you get massaging front seats, full LED headlights, traffic sign recognition and blind spot monitoring.
Jaguar XJ R-Sport
R-Sport trim has been developed as a direct rival to the S line and M Sport trim lines offered by Audi and BMW, respectively. It gets all the equipment offered in Portfolio, but in a sportier package courtesy of an R Sport styling kit, 20-inch alloy wheels and a three-spoke sports steering wheel.
Jaguar XJ Autobiogrphy
As the rang-topping luxury model, Autobiography is the only XJ to be offered with the 510hp V8 petrol engine, although we would still expect most buyers to go for the diesel. It gets yet another upgraded Meridan stereo this time with 1,300W – making it the most powerful system available in the XJ. Autobiography is aimed at owners that might choose to be driven, rather than to drive, so there’re fold out tables on the backs of the front seats, massaging rear seats, two 10.2-inch HD displays, and a centrally mounted control console.
That leaves the XJR model, which is the fastest XJ on sale on account of being the only one to come fitted with the 550hp supercharged V8. To promote this, it comes with an aggressive XJR body kit, its own design of 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake callipers and four exhaust pipes. The changes aren’t just visual, it’s also the only XJ to come fitted with an electronically controlled LSD (Limited Slip Differential) for more grip in the corners. Meanwhile, inside you get sports seats and a sports steering wheel.
With the competition swarming, the XJ’s facelift was long overdue, but the wait seems to have been worth it. The revised model gets an excellent diesel engine that offers both power and decent fuel economy, and a whole raft of new features that keep it in touching distant of the high-tech competition. While German rivals, with there more sophisticated suspension systems, may have the measurer of the Jaguar in terms of comfort, the XJ remains the limo of choice for well-heeled owners that occasionally want to enjoy their driving.