I have just driven the 2011 XJ for an hour on the highway, on country
roads, in the city. If you have any hint of heart trouble, this wont be the
car for you. It is in many ways (almost all ways, actually) and entirely new
sort of Jaguar XJ. I hardly know where to start…
First, appearance: this is a large car; the styling progresses from that of
the XF but it is more elegant: long, low and purposeful-looking. The rear
view is stunning (and this is what most people will see, believe me); the
rear ¾ view is fabulous, the side view very nice indeed well proportioned
and lithe. The front is very aggressive-looking, perhaps more so than the
XF. The trunk/boot: it is about the same size as that of the
current-generation aluminum body cars but the opening is smaller (more
BMW-like I would say). Nicely finished, of course.
The interior: the word is spectacular: the fit and finish are superb;
there are great swaths of highly polished wood on the doors and a narrow
band running along the screen side of the dash; the dash and the armrests
are in stitched leather. The seats or very comfortable heated and cooled,
of course, and the front seats have built in massage programmes (very
nice!). There are so many small touches of elegance and there are so many
features that it is impossible to list them. Suffice it to say that if it
exists in automotive technology and has a role in making the driver and
passengers more comfortable and the driving safer and easier it is there
and in the Jaguar tradition, it is intuitive and seamless in direct
contrast to the Germans technology-for technologys- sake approach.
Examples: adaptive cruise control, blind spot indicators on the mirrors,
front and rear cameras that display the view on the centre navigation
screen, paddles for the 6-speed ZF transmission, at least three different
programs for varying conditions and driving styles (including a winter
programme all of which are obtained by the mere press of a button, 4-zone
climate control with both screen and conventional controls (no need to
access a central processor to turn the fan up or down, off or on, temp up or
down; it just happens instantly), automatic wipers, lights,…the list goes
on and on. But the point is that you do not need to take a familiarization
course to drive this car. As with any Jaguar you get in, have a look at the
controls and then you can drive it.
The central console is very high (armrest height) so that driver and
passenger feel cosseted, but not smothered. Everything is easily at hand.
The visibility out the rear is compromised by a very slanted rear glass and
by large headrests, but the effect of this is mitigated by (front and) rear
parking sensors and those cameras and the blind spot indicators on the
One of the neatest things a really superb item: the navigation system not
only has the large (now traditional ) console screen, but also an
additional magnified display that appears in the instrument panel when a
turn or other change is suggested; it works superbly. No more taking the
eye away from the job.
Driving: The new XJ in Canada (and I believe in the US) comes in three
engine configurations, all using the ZF 6 speed box. This 5 litre engine is
a development of the (superb) 4.2 litre engine I have in my xj8. There is
the normally aspirated engine, the supercharged, and the sport supercharged
at 510 horsepower. I drove the middle engined-car. I have described the
performance of my aluminum-bodied xj8 (Series VII, x350) as frightening
very, very fast. This is why I am having trouble figuring out how to
convey the performance of the 2011 XJ. It is of a magnitude beyond the
performance of the current generation cars the only word I can think that
applies is this: the speed and acceleration are violent. It is blindingly
fast for a large saloon. Acceleration from a stop is shocking. Yet, in
normal driving it behaves in a very docile and gentle manner as every Jaguar
should. The engine is silent except when unleashed. The car, in fact is
extremely quiet. The ride is excellent despite the fact that this car wore
20 inch wheels the ride was as good or better than the ride on my xj8 with
18 inch wheels. The suspension has been changed it has the air shocks at
the rear as does my xj8, but the front shocks are now traditional springs
with adaptive shock absorbers.
I havent even scratched the surface here. I would absolutely love to have
this car on a highway with no speed limit (yes, childish, I know…).
This is a car for a new generation of Jaguar drivers I think it takes
Jaguar back to the position it had when it was avant-guard, a performance
marque, just on the edge. It is most definitely NOT a car for old guys.
This car (and the XF and the XK) will steel BMWs place as THE performance
prestige car IF Jaguar does some proper advertising the same old mantra!
Will I own one? Quite possibly. Would I like to have one? Oh yes.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
1966 3.8 Mk 2, Pale Primrose
1992 Series III V12 Vanden Plas, Black Cherry,
2002 X-Type, 5 sp. manual, Anthracite
2004 XJ8, Ebony===================================================
The archives and FAQ will answer many queries on the XJ series…
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