The new XJ is that rare thing: an executive car that is also a pleasure to drive
After you first earn big bucks, you’re meant to acquire a large German-made car then sit in the back in blissful comfort, puffing away on a fat Montecristo. That’s the stereotype at least. But what if you’re an aesthete? Or a hedonist? Which executive car should you buy if you enjoy driving?
When I was a kid I ran everywhere purely for the intrinsic pleasure of in running. And when I first learnt to drive I found any excuse to do so, driving anything, anywhere, at any time. Driving is best enjoyed driving from A to A, not A to B, not sat in the back. If you like being driven places, hire a chauffeur and let him decide what car to drive. He’ll probably want a Jaguar XJ.
The XJ is a rare thing: an executive car that is wonderful to drive. It also looks the part. It is unquestionably elegant: like a batmobile for the day time. It’s just as good on the inside (I was driving the top of the line Portfolio trim), where the cool phosphorus lighting gives the feel of a booth in Chinawhite. It is spacious, comfortable and luxurious – even the paddle shifters are tucked away, as if displaying them openly would be a little vulgar.
Dial in to the 825W Meridian sound system and you’ll be faced with a dilemma. You can choose Dolby Surround or Meridian’s own system settings – which one is better? I think Meridian just about nudges ahead, although this depends on what kind of music you’re listening to. There’s also Dolby THX if you’ve opted to watch a movie in the back.
The XJ is made from aluminium and consequently weighs less than most of its competitors. It’s also rear-wheel-drive – two attributes usually associated with a sports car.
But for a car in the executive market, it’s all about the manner of progress. Power from the 3.0-litre 271bhp engine is efficient and effortless, thanks to its new eight-speed ZF transmission, which (almost imperceptibly) delivers the next gear upwards (there’s also a 3.0-litre V6 petrol version, which is a little quicker, but less economical). And that’s not all. Comfortable doesn’t quite cover it. The only wave-like motion you can detect is the feeling of the engine as it gently undulates. It is also agile. This is no fat cat – it is athletic, lean and engaging, especially if you switch into Sport mode, where it will hang on the gears longer and make a good deal more noise.
Experience all of this and you’ll find the biggest problem with the Jaguar XJ is deciding where you ought to be sitting. Front or back? Remember, some things are worth doing for their own sake. The Jaguar XJ has poise and aplomb. It isn’t transportation, it’s motoring. If you don’t know the difference then take my advice: sit in the front seat and drive it like you stole it.
JAGUAR XJ 3.0-LITRE DIESEL
0-62MPH: 6.4 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 159g/km
MPG COMBINED: 47mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY ****