We’ve had the latest version of the Jaguar XJ in for review – the LWB 3.0 litre Diesel Portfolio with Sports Packs – to see how the XJ is maturing.
It’s getting on for two years since we had the first Jaguar XJ in for review, and almost three years since we first saw the new XJ at the Saatchi Gallery in London, almost a year before Jaguar managed to get their new range-topper in to showrooms.
In between we had a long-term XJ in for review which was with us for four months and proved to be far more reliable than the early car we had in – which did have problems – and a car we covered most the UK in with almost nothing in the way of hiccups.
And now we have our third XJ in for review in two years, this time the very latest LWB XJ with the new interior and exterior Sports Pack bolted on for a bit of extra aggression and all the latest – although very minor – tweaks.
So how is the new XJ holding up now it’s firmly established on the roads? Is it still a cut above the opposition, or is it starting to get stale?
Jaguar XJ LWB – inside and out
It may be three years since we first set eyes on the new XJ interior, but it’s still as impressive – and individual – as it ever was. There’s a human touch to the design that makes the XJ’s interior not just a very appealing place to be, but a very welcoming one too.
Yes, headroom is at a premium and for the long of body the XJ is a snug experience. But this time we have the long wheelbase in for review which means ample room to party in the back, even if the headroom is still lacking.
This XJ has the interior sport pack which adds extra leather with more heavily bolstered seats and Piano Black veneers. It’s not overtly sport – not even splashes of red – but the seats are more supportive and, thanks to the big glass area on the roof, the blackness of the interior is still inviting.
Jaguar has had a bit of a play with the buttons on the HVAC and Infotainment to make them a bit more logical and the latency on the touchscreen seems better than it was, although it’s still a bit feeble. The touchscreen graphics have had a tweak too.
The ‘Virtual’ instrument panel remains, and we like the concept. But as time moves on it really is starting to feel more Atari than Apple and needs attention. It works fine, it just looks a bit yesterday. But minor gripes apart, the interior of the XJ is still streets ahead of the competition.
And it’s not just the interior that’s streets ahead either, the exterior of the XJ is still stunning. From the contentious rump to the statement nose via the coupe roofline, the XJ is still very contemporary – despite the three years from launch – and stands out as a hugely individual design in a sea of corporate anonymity from the competition.
This XJ LWB doesn’t just have the interior Sport Pack, it also gets the exterior Sport Pack. That means a black gloss finish for the grill, side vents and lower mesh, red brake calipers, a front aero splitter, boot spoiler and a very nice set of 20″ Venom alloys, all of which makes the XJ look far more purposeful, without detracting from the stunning original design.
All in all, the Jaguar XJ is maturing very nicely, inside and out.
Jaguar XJ LWB – Performance on the road
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Jaguar XJ is not the way it looks, but the way it drives. You’d be forgiven for thinking that adding an extra few inches to the length of the XJ might have made it feel more of a barge, but the only time you’ll ever notice is if you try to park in a car park – the LWB is exactly what is says on the tin.
But the rest of the time – whether you’re creeping along in traffic, cruising on a motorway or blatting round a B road – the LWB feels just as good as the standard wheelbase car, and that is astonishingly good.
The XJ doesn’t feel like a big luxury car to drive, it feels like a well-sorted sports saloon. Yes, the ride isn’t as cosseting as XJs of old but that’s more than made up for by the way it handles and the way you can feel your way round a bend.
We said it when we had our first XJ in for review two years ago – and it still applies – when you start to push this 3.0 litre oil-burner does a very good impression of an XFR. True, it doesn’t quite have the raw power, but the torque on tap makes the 6 seconds 0-60mph feel quicker.
The steering still feels light at first touch, but you always know what’s going on. The chassis is beautifully balanced, body roll is kept firmly in check and the gearbox can be left to its own devices almost all the time and still conspires to find the right gear to suit your intent.
If you enjoy driving there is no better car in this class than the Jaguar XJ, even in LWB guise and even with a 3.0 litre diesel engine.
Jaguar XJ LWB – Verdict
Much to our delight, the Jaguar XJ is every bit as appealing two years on as it was when we first drove it. It still has ‘Soul’ and its looks and performance still set it apart from the competition.
There are gripes, however, some of which are fixable and some of which just have to be accepted. We’re still not convinced that the XJ is quite as robustly dependable as we’d like. There’s a certain fragility to the XJ – something XJs have always had – but that is perhaps what makes it so appealing; more human and less machine?
The less than brilliant headroom is a price worth paying for the stunning design, but there are other things that could be addressed.
Those include the less than brilliant touchscreen – although we love its split screen function – and the virtual instruments need to have an OLED makeover. We have a pet aversion to the plasticky flappy paddles (fortunately the gearbox is good enough most of the time not to need to use them) and some of the trim just seems a bit low rent.
But if you enjoy the drive and want a luxury car, there is no better car than the Jaguar XJ. You can sit in the back and be wafted around behind privacy glass, but when the weekend comes or an open road beckons in the evening you will thank your lucky stars you resisted the temptation of Teutonic sameness for the allure of the big cat.
The Jaguar XJ is still, despite the gripes, our favourite luxury car by far.
Jaguar XJ LWB 3.0 litre Diesel Portfolio Quick Tech Specs
- Engine: 2993cc, 275bhp
- Performance: 0-60mph 6.0 seconds / Top Speed 155mph
- Economy: 40.1mpg – Official / 31.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 184g/km
- Price: £69,535 / Price as tested £71,880
- Test car supplied by Jaguar UK