The Jaguar XJ is a luxury limo with a lavish interior that’s rewarding to drive, but alternatives beat it on comfort and modern technologies
The Jaguar XJ can trace its roots all the way back to 1968, but this current model arrived in 2009. The XJ is similar in price to the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series, but less expensive than a Mercedes S-Class with which it shares similar dimensions.
Most cars in this class are all about being driven in, but that’s not the case with the XJ. Sit behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the low-slung driving position is closer to a sports car than an executive limo. The overall design of the dashboard helps with this cocooning feeling, while the fairly thin pillars where the windscreen meets the side windows mean you get a good view out as well.
High-spec XJ models get a leather-upholstered dashboard, but some of the materials, particularly around the centre console and steering wheel, are a step below what you’d find in an Audi or a Mercedes. The rest of the cabin is of a higher standard, though, including its solid-feeling air-vents made out of metal and large slabs of wood veneer on the doors. All told, you’ll like the posh atmosphere in the XJ.
All models get a 12.3-inch infotainment system with sat-nav and internet connectivity. You also get a digital driver’s display in place of the regular dials which can transform into a big sat-nav map, which is a great feature if you’re driving in an unfamiliar area. However, alternatives such as the BMW 7 Series are on a whole different level in terms of screen graphics, menu navigation, features, ease of use and connectivity. It’s also disappointing that you can’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on the XJ.
Getting comfortable in the Jaguar XJ, though, is easy – all models get electrically-adjustable front seats and you can spec up upgraded seats with even more adjustment and a massage feature. Space is generous up front but a little bit compromised in the back. Legroom in the back seat isn’t a problem at all, especially if you go for the long wheelbase version of the XJ, but thanks to its sloping roof, there’s not a lot of headroom if you’re over six feet tall. You can spec up two individual chairs for the back which get all sorts of electrical adjustment but sadly don’t improve on the headroom – a Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7 Series are all more comfortable for rear-seat passengers.
The boot of the Jaguar XJ is about the smallest among alternatives, but at 416 litres, is still big enough for most buyers’ needs. The load area is a bit on the shallow side, but at least the opening is nice and wide so loading in golf bags, for example, will be a tad easier than in an S-Class.
The Jaguar XJ is a luxury limo that’s a blast to drive, but newer rivals are more technologically advanced making them safer and more enjoyable to live with
Where the Jaguar XJ outclasses not only the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, but also the fairly dynamic BMW 7 Series is the driving experience. Put simply, the XJ feels and drives like a smaller car and so can really put a smile on your face if you’re a keen driver. The drawback is that the Jaguar XJ simply can’t match a Mercedes S-Class for comfort and there’s more tyre noise at speed in the XJ than there is in an Audi A8.
When it comes to engine choice, well, there isn’t one – it’s a 3.0-litre diesel or nothing. The diesel is a strong performer, allowing confident overtakes, but you’d never call it quick in the way a BMW 740d is. Where the XJ loses out is fuel choice – some alternatives offer petrol, diesel and hybrid variants which give you more flexibility for your needs.
EuroNCAP hasn’t crash tested the Jaguar XJ but it comes with a host of safety assists that you can spec up such as a blind spot monitor or a lane-keep assist. Unfortunately, you can’t get the same high-tech adaptive cruise control which also helps with steering that you can get on an Audi A8.
So, the Jaguar XJ is arguably one of the last remaining luxury cars that really want you to drive them. If that sounds like you, then you’ll most likely forgive the XJ’s comfort and space shortcomings.