The styling of the XJ probably hasn’t helped its sales. Considering it was Jaguar’s first all-aluminium production car at launch four years ago, the design hardly shouted ‘progress’. In fact, it looked so like the out-going model that, in front of a number of Jaguar big-wigs, photographer Kenny P peered through his lens and asked ‘what am I shooting, mate; what’s changed?’ Apparently US customers had told Jaguar they loved the XJ as it was, but that was before they saw Mr Bangle’s 7-series and the new S-class.
At cash-strapped Jaguar, changing swathes of panels to make the XJ look more modern was not an option. This mid-life refresh does bring the neat front wing vent, as seen on the XK coupe, and heavy revision of non-metal parts like bumpers and sill extensions. Heavy is the word, too, the front bumper especially looking a bit clumsy, though the particular XJR we tested looked more appealing with its 19in five-spoke wheels and black paint. New seats give up more space front and rear and there are advances in in-car communications that should be useful to the suited set. The ‘wood’ trim looked very middle-aged, however.
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What is truly galling about the XJ is that dynamically it is a very fine car, with a perfectly judged ride for UK roads, crisp responses and exceptional poise – much of this due to its lightweight aluminium construction. It also has a superb drivetrain, the supercharged V8 giving up its power smoothly and enthusiastically while the six-speed automatic gearbox manages up- and down-shifts swiftly and sweetly. There isn’t another luxury saloon that’s so impressive from behind the wheel. If only it looked that good.
|Engine||V8, 4196cc, supercharged|
|Max power||400bhp @ 6100rpm|
|Max torque||408lb ft @ 3500rpm|
|Top speed||155mph (limited)|