The design of the Jaguar XJ is probably the biggest key to its success or failure. Despite the last generation Jaguar XJ being a fine car, the fact that it was perceived as little changed from the iconic Series I Jaguar XJ – which launched in 1968 – has been its downfall. That, coupled with long memories of the problems Jaguar had in the ’70s and beyond – inevitable when your target market is probably 40+ – hasn’t helped things either.
So where were Jaguar to go with the design of the new XJ? Did they stick with a pastiche of the original or go with a contemporary design? They really had no choice – they had to bring the Big Cat in to the 21st century. And they’ve already had practice at pulling off this trick with the Jaguar XF, which has been a huge success and totally eclipsed memories of the S-type.
But it’s a shock. A Jaguar XJ that doesn’t look like a Jaguar XJ. Takes some getting used to. We did expect the family theme from the XF to come through in the nose, and it does. But it’s a bolder statement than the XF. Somehow more assured and confident. Does it work? Oh, yes.
The flanks of any big car can be a problem. They can look slab-sided. But Jaguar has pulled this off with some clever rise and fall lines and detailing. As Ian Callum said, they wanted the bottom of the car to be muscular whilst the top was refined. The detailing on the lower half of the XJ achieves this. It looks sculpted. It doesn’t jar. It’s cleverly done.
In reality the Jaguar XJ is a four-door coupe. It’s not marketed as such, but it is. And the dark detailing on the C-pillars we moaned about when we saw the first pictures of the XJ actually help shift the perspective, and stop the Big Cat looking like the cabin is too far back, as it often does on four door coupes (the Porsche Panamera, for example).
The back is the most contentious part of the body style. We do think it looks a bit like a Bentley with lights from a Citroen. But in the flesh it works. It’s clean and uncluttered. It’s not covered with endless nomenclature either, as most cars are. Just a simple ‘XJ’ badge and the Leaping Cat’ motif (which Ian Callum says will become more apparent on Jaguars to come). And it doesn’t look like a big Mercedes or a big BMW or a big Lexus or… Good.Click next to continue reading>>
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