Stretching the concept (Jaguar XJ 3.0 Diesel Portfolio)

Whatever your view is on Jaguar’s new XJ there can be no doubt that the car and its maker have generated an unprecedented amount of attention. Since its launch, the radically styled luxury saloon has caused a stir – thankfully for Jaguar most of it positive.

In truth, Jaguar could only dine out on its design heritage for so long. With more choice than ever before in the market and the need to attract younger buyers to the brand, revolution and not evolution was the only way forward.

And what a revolution. Yes, Jaguar’s trademark styling cues remain – the grille, big wheels, low-slung profile – but the XJ of today is a world apart from its predecessors. Judging from the critics’ responses the gamble has paid off. There’s no mistaking this XJ for anything else in the executive car park.

Officially the XJ is a four-door saloon like all its rivals, but the clever people at Jaguar have designed it in such a way that it looks almost hatchback-like when viewed in profile. With the XJ historically offering a more sporting experience than most premium alternatives, such a ‘look’ is a clear statement of the car’s performance potential.

Slide down into the super-supportive seats and the XJ’s cabin replicates the wow factor of the exterior. With its slim window line, the XJ feels snug and solid from the inside, with a high shoulder line leaving you cocooned, but not cramped. There’s also plenty of stylish design touches. The touch screen system results in an uncluttered dashboard, and the now-standard Jaguar gear selector does its bit to keep fussy controls to a minimum.

There are no shortage of toys in the XJ’s cabin, though. The clever Dual-View screen allows the passenger to watch a DVD or television while the driver can only seen information and the sat nav display, the seats have the option of heating, ventilation and massage and the top of the range Bowers and Wilkins audio system is an impressive option. The XJ aims to make its occupants feel special and comfortable, and it does so in fine style.

Taking this a step further is the long wheelbase variant. There has been some disquiet over the amount of legroom afford to rear seat passengers in the standard length XJ. This issue has been fully resolved in the long wheelbase variant, and for many this car will be the default choice due largely to its extra length.

In practice the XJ L boasts plenty of space for adults fore and aft. The car’s sloping roofline and elegant profile have been largely untouched by the extra length – always a tricky thing for designers to overcome. Despite the modest stretch, the car is no less elegant than its shorter cousin.

Furthermore, on the road you’d never know you were driving the longer XJ. This car is just as responsive and agile, and should such performance should do much to encourage drivers who will view this XJ as a working tool in the executive chauffeur business.

In reality comfort and luxury is only half the story. As with the previous generation, this XJ has an aluminium structure – 50% recycled too – which gives it a weight advantage over the competition, That’s good for economy and performance: the popular 3.0-litre V6 diesel version can achieve almost 40mpg and 189g/km of C02 in long wheelbase trim, yet deliver proper performance too, with 155mph and 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds.

There’s no question that replacing the XJ was a hard task for Jaguar. Expectations were always high and no XJ has been able to step out of the shadow of the original – until now. With a clever and considerate blend of technology and thoughtful but bold design, this new XJ is a welcome step forward for Jaguar. And in long wheelbase trim it’s better than ever.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Jaguar XJ 3.0 Diesel Portfolio LWB, from £69,500 on the road.
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel unit developing 275bhp.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission, driving the rear wheels.
Performance: Maximum speed 155mph, 0-62mph 6.4 seconds.
Economy: 39.2mpg.
CO2 Rating: 189g/km

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