There is an interesting recurring dream of mine involving British Green and sheer engineering perfection. The basic theme goes on like this: Me gifting my father the keys of a British engineering perfection on his birthday. The initial dreams involved Jaguars, but then somehow the name Bentley crept in. The reason for the Bentley’s replacing the Jags was after me seeing the two-door Bentley draped in British Racing green.The Bentley looked absolutely stunning. From then on Bentleys became a permanent fixture in my dreams and the most recent one was one with a British Racing Green Continental GT.
All of a sudden something amazing has happened to me in the past few months. I am smitten, I am in love, I am bowled over, I am trembling in boyish excitement, I have spent some time with the all new 2010 Jaguar XJ. The car is pure automotive perfection. The design is timeless. The pictures are only half the truth. In person XJ is a stunning piece of engineering. Take one look and you fall in love. The subtle yet modern design cues make this car so unique and so breathtakingly beautiful. I know right from my boyhood days that I am a Jagaurphile. The cars they made were so much in line with my intuition about cars. Somewhere along the line we grew apart. But after spending time with the XJ, it rekindled the old love and that too with great passion.
The new XJ is nothing like the outgoing model, yet somehow manages to be quintessentially a Jaguar. No one will ever confuse this car with anything else on the road. It is a behemoth of a full size sedan but its design cleverly hides its bulk. Even the long wheelbase version looks so much like a smooth stroke of an artist rather than an afterthought. I was skeptical before about the XJ saying it can be a disappointment despite its stunning design but boy I am proved wrong and I am ecstatic about it.
Even with its simultaneously stunning and intimidating looks the car is lighter and sturdier than the sister XF due to its brilliant aluminium-magnesium alloy construction. The car weighs at 1755kg which is only made possible due to the extensive use of light weight materials. Less amount of weight gives the XJ an unique advantage to forego the electronic driving aids to make the driver less conscious about the weight like in the BMW 7 Series. The 7 Series is nearly 200kg heavier than the XJ and it reflects in its spiritedness.
Kill the lights in the hangar and slowly let the XJ purr out of the hydraulic doors and people will definitely have brief episodes of syncope. But what about the interiors: Yes don’t’ worry. They are just as awe inspiring as the exterior shell. The gadgets and electronic wizardry are at plenty but somehow it manages to be tasteful and more subdued as compared to its sister XF. The interiors are dominated by design philosophy of circles. It feels more coherent and soothing than the sister XF’s interiors. The instrument cluster is a huge LCD panel that can be user customized. Bower and Wilkins 1200 watt 20 speakers manage to create a good listening experience inside the car.
The steering is precise and well balanced giving a boost of confidence to anybody behind XJ’s wheels despite its sheer size. The car shrinks in size once you are out of the parking lot and stop go traffic. The XJ like the 7 Series is a car that is designed for both, the ones who prefer to drive and the ones who prefer to be driven around.
The safety equipment levels are plenty but slightly lacking considering the fact that XJ do not offer any Night Vision Assistance, Lane Departure Warning or Driver Drowsiness Warning. It does have a rather annoying Blind Spot Warning System which in my opinion the Jaguar could have easily omitted. The GPS system is less intuitive to use than those found in many cheaper cars, and there is no automatic emergency alert system which you find in bread and butter cars equipped with GM OnStar or Ford Sync. Saving grace is the optional dual view screen for the navigation similar to the one available on Range Rover.
Remember the Citroen C6, an unbelievably comfortable car. But nobody bought it just because the car was so disconnected and boring. Well the good news about the XJ is it is not a C6. The suspension is insanely brilliant giving a perfect balance between drivability and comfort. Drive over an irregular surface at slow speed and that might be the only time you will be reminded of the slightly stiff settings of this car. You also have multiple options for tuning it to your driving mood. For a spirited driving it has a firmed up mode called the Sport setting which improves the handling dynamics. The XJ may not be as advanced as the BMW 7 series on paper but the front coils and the rear independent air suspensions are more than a match to the Bavarian excellence.
The 380 bhp manages to propel this cat to 60mph in 5.5 seconds and pushes further to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The six speed automatic transmission is smooth, eager and manages to hold on its own against the higher number of cogs in the BMW. The 3rd Generation AJ V8 gives a nice aural pleasure for enthusiasts who prefer to listen to the engine growl. The car is also available with a diesel option.
The India bound XJ will don 18” alloys to give a much more comfortable ride to its passengers, as compared to the optional 19” and 20” alloy wheels for the rest of the world.
I thought the future was late partly because of the XF let down, but I am positive about the fact that the XJ is the new benchmark in the full size sedan category, period!
Annoyance: No Infra Red Night Vision Assistance. Blind Spot Warning System is outright annoying.
Competition: Audi A8 – Boring, BMW 7 Series – Ugly, Mercedes S- Class – Ugly and Boring
Verdict: I definitely want to gift my father an XJ. Also if you are in the market for a full size sedan and you end up buying anything else, you are the biggest idiot ever to grace this planet.