Drive – Jaguar XJ 3.0D Review

28 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Jaguar XJ 3.0D Review
Jaguar XJ

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Pros

Agile road manners

Bold exterior

Cons

Ride and noise suppression fall short

Underwhelming safety fitout

They say you can’t tell the future but with Jaguar’s XJ luxury sedan, you could always safely predict one thing: the new one would look just like the old one.

Now, the status quo has been reset. Gone is the slavish devotion to the lines of the XJ of the 1960s, replaced by a fresh exterior that pushes the envelope.

Price and equipment

The XJ’s bold styling could well scare conservative buyers but those who find its beady-eyed teardrop form enchanting won’t find much to complain about.

The range kicks off from $198,800 for the 3.0D short-wheelbase diesel tested here (plus on-road and dealer costs). For that, you get a competitive serve of toys, including power operation of almost everything, satnav, heated/ventilated front seats, smart key access, Bluetooth, voice activation and a CD/DVD sound system with USB/iPod inputs.

The Jag falls a little short with dual rather than four-zone climate control and no TV but gets a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloys and a class-leading 30-gigabyte hard drive.

Open the wallet wider and you can specify a longer wheelbase. A petrol V8 model and two grades of supercharged V8 are also available.

With six airbags, anti-locking brakes, stability control and parking sensors, the XJ is safe but there are no rear-side airbags and a reversing camera costs extra. You’ll have to fork out, too, if you want radar cruise or blind-spot/lane-change warning systems.

Under the bonnet

Jag’s 202kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V6 works a treat in the XF and is just as impressive in the XJ, which is actually lighter owing to aluminium construction.

It’s one of the quietest, smoothest diesels you’ll find and, with a mighty 600Nm of torque to call on from just above idle, its performance is superbly responsive and utterly effortless. It’s thrifty, too; we averaged 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres in combined urban/highway running, within sight of the official 7.0L/100km claim.

The syrupy six-speed auto is effective and unobtrusive in the way it harnesses the diesel V6’s considerable punch. It does tend to hunt on hills but engaging sport mode solves this issue.

How it drives

The Jag doesn’t feel the big barge it is on the road; the steering is direct and responsive. It corners with real confidence and poise and its road-holding abilities are considerable, while the computer-controlled suspension can be tightened by selecting dynamic mode.

The ride isn’t quite so admirable. You wouldn’t call it uncomfortable but it doesn’t quite offer the isolation and lushness you might expect of a luxo limo on pock-marked roads. Tyre noise, too, is present on coarse-chip surfaces.

Comfort and practicality

Leather and wood abound in the XJ’s voluptuous cabin and – combined with details such as the chrome, periscope-style air vents – deliver a lavish, club-lounge atmosphere that’s expected of a Jaguar.

It’s clearly a 21st-century product, though. The analog instruments are actually digital projections on a screen, there’s a touch-screen operating system and, like the XF, the unique circular gear selector rises spectacularly from the console on start-up.

Jaguar XJ

Functionally, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Comfort is great up front but headroom isn’t and the abundant chrome trim is blinding in direct sunlight. Also, the instruments and touch-screen graphics aren’t as crisply presented as some rival set-ups.

Head space will also be an issue in the back for anyone taller than 183 centimetres, while those who fit comfortably will find only reasonable legroom.

The boot isn’t that deep or wide, either, and relies on length to achieve its competitive 520-litre capacity.

Competitors

Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro

BMW 730d

Mercedes-Benz S350 CDI

From $218,710 (plus on-road and dealer costs). 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6; 173kW/540Nm; 7-sp auto; 7.7L/100km and 202g/km CO2. Nine airbags; blind-spot/lane-change warning system.

Refined diesel drivetrain. Still on the costly side. Rating: 4/5

Overall verdict

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

In many ways, and despite the self-conscious attempt at breaking with the past, the XJ remains flawed like its predecessors.

It’s not as roomy, pampering or as polished as the best luxury sedans and falls well short of perfection in a rational contest.

But the Jag’s bold, ballsy and forward-looking character also makes most alternatives seem predictable; boring even. You’ll struggle to find more presence, a more exquisite cabin ambience or a better diesel driveline in the segment.

If you love the look and put your own satisfaction before the interests of back-seat occupants, the XJ could be very tempting.

Jaguar XJ
Jaguar XJ
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