The first thing that strikes you about the big cat is its size. Like a well-cut suit disguising a middle-aged paunch, its long lines and elegant curves hide all signs of rich living. Its low roofline also helps the car slip through the air; it is the most aerodynamic car Jaguar has ever produced. This all means the big XJ is remarkably agile. The handling is exceptional and it feels light on its toes – which in fact is thanks to a gossamer-light aluminium frame. This also helps make it more fuel efficient. It’s made out of 50% recycled material which Jaguar says saves 3.3 tonnes of CO2 in the construction of each bodyshell.
Underneath all this is an aluminium structure derived from the previous XJ, enabling this hefty car to weigh much the same as the smaller, but steel, XF. The engines mirror those of the XF – a 3.0-litre, V6 diesel with twin sequential turbos and 275bhp (from £53,755), a 5.0-litre, 385bhp V8 with direct injection, and a supercharged version of that with 510bhp for the top Supersport model. All have six-speed ZF automatic transmissions with paddle-shifters.
Of course, the point of the XJ is not to drive it at all. This is a chauffeur’s car! The back seat is where the car should be judged from. Everywhere there is marshmallow-soft leather, chrome detailing and piano-black surfaces. TV screens are embedded in the head rests and a 1,200W Bowers & Wilkins system is good enough to have made even Sedbergh’s song sound rousing…
That retro-obsession has no place in today’s Jaguar company. “Jaguars should be modern cars,” says design director Ian Callum. “We should understand the values that made the original XJ great, but we should not copy it.”