Is this XJ the last proper Jaguar?
You'll never see this iconic shape again.
Let me start by saying that I'm an immense full-size luxury sedans lover. They are elegant, comfortable, and usually way faster than one would think. I recently had the chance to drive one of the most iconic cars of this segment, the Jaguar XJ, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the car especially because it pretty much retained the looks and feel of the original one that came out in 1968, even though this car came out in 2007.
Everything changed in 2010 when Jaguar introduced a completely redesigned car that looked nothing like the previous generations of the XJ. There was a lot of tech in there, maybe too much, and most enthusiasts did not like what Jaguar had done to the mythical sedan. Nine years had passed, and in 2019 the brand from Coventry stopped the production of the XJ. Rumour has it that the flagship will come back next year in the form of a fully-electric vehicle.
Thanks, but I'll stick to the older models. The car I have driven was a 2009 model dubbed the X358 and was basically the last ever XJ with the traditional design. Only produced between 2007 and 2009, the X358 was the facelift of the X350. Apart from minor styling revisions and new seats, the X358 was pretty much identical to the 2003 car it was based on, and that's not a bad thing.
Even though the car is 17 years old, the platform is modern with an all-aluminum body and chassis. The car still weighs 1'937 kg, but it's significantly less than the last XJ which weighed 2'121 kg, and this obviously had an impact on the driving dynamics. Bear with me, this is no sports car, but it's surprising to see that it actually can handle corners pretty well. In terms of engines, there were plenty of options from a 204 horsepower 2.7-litre V6 diesel to the very potent 396 horsepower 4.2-litre petrol V8. The XJ I have driven is equipped with the diesel engine that was developed by Ford in the UK. This frugal V6 was also found under the bonnet of the Range Rover Sport, and even the Citroën C6 and Peugeot 607. Therefore, not the noblest of engines but it's smooth, quick enough, and does the job pretty well. My choice here would have been the flagship model with its growling V8, but I must admit that the smaller diesel engine makes more sense for long distances.
Unfortunately, the 2.7-litre V6 diesel was no match against its German rivals. Cars like the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, or S-Class, were all equipped with similar displacement engines that made over 230 horsepower however, they were all heavier than the British. The XJ capitalized on a better driving experience, a more classic look, and a lower selling price than the rest of the competition. I don't know about you, but if I had to choose, I'd definitely go with the Jaguar.
Being a luxury sedan, the XJ had to have a beautiful interior, and it does indeed. Reminiscent of an English salon, the Jaguar is all about plush seats, high-quality leather, aluminum knobs, and yes, there is even some wood. The center console greets you with a classy analog clock and an over-pixelized infotainment screen that I'd leave on just to display the Jaguar logo. The rest of the cabin is, as expected, very elegant, and you kind of feel that everything was made easy so that older people would understand how to get around.
The Jaguar XJ X358 felt old when it came out in 2007, even though it had all the latest tech under its guise. Maybe, most buyers wanted the design to be more modern, hence the radical X351 that arrived in 2010. I am nostalgic and will constantly regret the traditional design that made the success of the XJ. Just like with the Porsche 911, I have this idea that you shouldn't mess around too much with great designs. For most manufacturers, and this is the case with Jaguar, the adaptation to modern standards is inevitable, and return on investment is greater than traditions. Yep, they just don't make them as they used to.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Daniel Zizka for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. He is one talented car photographer and you should totally check his Instagram account: www.instagram.com/danielzizka/
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