It’s the most radical redesign Jaguar has ever made to the flagship XJ, but Ed Stephens is smitten.
Jaguar’s new flagship XJ saloon goes on sale in May – and whoever is in residence at 10 Downing Street after the elections will be one of the first customers.
And that in itself is a coup for the Birmingham car maker as it will give the car a high profile that will help to boost sales.
The new XJ is the car that has broken the mold, and that’s what sets it apart from its predecessors.
Ever since the first XJ model was launched back in 1968 the basic shape has remained similar – partly to please traditionalists – even though with each generation the car has evolved.
The new model, however, is totally different and doesn’t, dare I say it, even look like a Jaguar.
But times change, and the radical new design is just what is needed to boost sales and appeal to a much wider market.
With the new XJ Jaguar has managed to combine all the features of a luxury saloon in a super sleek, super sexy coupe.
Long wheelbase models in particular are aimed at chief executives and managing directors, many of who will have chauffeurs.
But such is the appearance of the car and the superb performance and handling that it could well see a number of chauffeurs made redundant or at least relegated to the back seat while the boss gets behind the wheel.
The new all-aluminium car is available with either a 3.0-litre, 275bhp V6 diesel engine, a 385bhp 5.0-litre petrol or the supercar of the range, the supercharged 5.0-litre, 510 bhp Supersport.
Whichever model you opt for you will get a 155mph powerhouse that will whisk you from standstill to 62 mph in 6.4 seconds, 5.7 seconds or 4.9 seconds respectively.
Prices start from £53,775 for the standard wheelbase diesel in luxury trim and soar to more than £90,000 for the long wheelbase Supersport. And while these prices might be out of most people’s pocket you certainly get a lot for your money with the new car.
Standard features include everything from “virtual” dials projected onto a 12-inch high definition screen in front of the driver to a double panoramic glass roof with electrically operated blinds to ensure plenty of interior light.
You don’t even have to dip your headlights when meeting oncoming traffic, the car does it for you and then puts up full beam again when the road is clear.
Having tried both the diesel and the Supersport it’s clear that Jaguar has a winner on its hands.
Both models have superb handling, rocket-like propulsion and road holding that is second to none.
A quick flick of a switch near the rotary dial that you turn to engage the six speed auto gearbox allows you to switch from normal mode to Dynamic, to sharpen up the accelerator response, firm the steering and alter the damper setting for performance motoring. Even the seatbelts tighten across your chest in anticipation of what is to come.
The diesel is wonderfully responsive with plenty of low down torque and very un-diesel-like acceleration. At the same time it’s amazingly quiet and refined
The Supersport is almost worth the extra money it costs for the roar that comes from it when you floor the accelerator. This is not a car for the faint hearted. On full power it literally pins you to your seatback as it hurtles towards the horizon.
The big seller in the UK will be the diesel, taking some 75-80 per cent of sales.
Jaguar already has a substantial order bank for the car which needs to be a best seller to secure the jobs of some 2,000 people involved directly and indirectly with its production. So far all the signs look couldn’t look more positive.