On the move, you get excellent standards of body control through the twisty stuff thanks to the stiff, light all-aluminium body. There’s responsive, feelsome steering too, despite this improved XJ model’s switch from a hydraulic set-up to a more efficient electric one. The result is one of the most rewarding cars in the class if you like your driving, though a slight downside comes with suspension that isn’t quite as magic carpet-like as rivals can offer. It’s sophisticated though, constantly adapting to the road surface courtesy of ‘Adaptive Dynamics’ damping.
There’s also a JaguarDrive Control’ driving mode set-up, one of those that alters steering feel, throttle response and gearshift timings to suit the way you want to drive. This offers the option of a sporty ‘Dynamic’ setting or a traction-orientated ‘Winter’ mode that activates a clever ‘All-Surface Progress Control’ system. Under the bonnet, most XJ buyers choose the 3. 0-litre V6 twin turbo diesel engine we’re trying here, in this Euro6 guise now uprated to 300PS and capable of 62mph in 6. 2s, a combined cycle reading of 49. 6mpg and a CO2 return of 149g/km. Alternatively, there are two supercharged petrol powerplants, a 340PS 3. 0-litre V6 unit and a 5. 0-litre V8, offered with either 510 or 550PS.
It’s easy now to forget quite what a stir this fourth generation XJ created at its introduction back in the Summer of 2009. Even now, the controversial ‘teardrop’ shape still dominates any discussion that touches upon this model and everyone you meet will have an opinion. Ex-Aston Martin designer Ian Callum is clear about the way the styling encapsulates his vision for a ‘21st century luxury car’, believing that the brand should understand the values that made the original XJ great, without necessarily copying them. We’d agree: authoritative, elegant and powerful, the look of this car remains a refreshing alternative to the conventional boxiness of its premium German rivals.
Whatever you think of the exterior, it’s difficult not to like the lovely cabin. Mindful of Jaguar’s heritage, you enter expecting the ambience of a Gentleman’s Club, but what’s delivered instead is Brit design cool and an undercurrent of true indulgence, epitomised by the huge slabs of veneer that decorate the doors.
The seats are beautiful too, powered and heated of course, with optional cooling and massage functions. They’re now trimmed in top models in quilted semi-aniline leather you’ll also find in head lining stitched around the lovely dual-panelled sunroof that’s standard across the range. Ahead of you is a deeply dished three-spoke leather stitched wheel, through which you view a 12. 3-inch TFT LCD screen that replaces conventional instrument gauges.
Even more sophistication lies with the key update made to this XJ model’s cabin - the ‘InControl Touch’ infotainment touchscreen that sits above the ventilation controls, dominating the centre stack.
It’s your access point not only to the expected audio, climate, telephone and 3D Navigation functions but also to in-car wi-fi with a web browser, an optional Surround View camera system and a ‘Live’ section that when linked into 3G, will give you a Flight Tracker, plus Weather and News reports.
Time to take a seat in the back where a very spacious cabin awaits, particularly if you’ve specified a Long Wheelbase model like this one with 125mm of extra body length.
Quite a chunk of this has gone to benefit rear seat legroom, an extra 44mm of space making it possible to really stretch out.
Finally, let’s take a look out back. Activate the rather pointless power-operated bootlid and a 479-litre space is revealed. Directly comparable German-branded rival models don’t offer much more luggage space than this and that there’s enough room for two large suitcases to sit side by side or multiple sets of golf clubs.
In summary, we think this car to be a fitting flagship for a Jaguar brand that at last has fully found itself as a maker of fast, beautiful cars. Bold and ferociously modern, this remains a Luxury saloon you can bond with, a limousine for life.