S-Class who? Recently seen being driven by none other than James Bond in “Skyfall”, the XJ has technically achieved what every car aspires to achieve.
Last summer, I drove the Jaguar XJL Portfolio with the 5.0 engine and absolutely adored it. With its big V8, great power, and immense level of comfort, there wasn’t much to hate. This year, Jaguar announced two new innovations to the Canadian XJ lineup. For one, they introduced a new V6 as an entry-level engine. They also (along with the XF) added all-wheel-drive. My initial thoughts before even driving the car were that it would be horrendously slow and that stepping on the gas wouldn’t really make it go anywhere at all. Surprisingly, after driving the 2013 Jaguar XJL AWD, all of those presumptions were literally shattered.
The new 3.0L V6 in this XJ is supercharged. It puts out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. It’s not slow in the slightest, but it definitely lacks the pep of the optional supercharged V8. Seriously speaking though, with a motor as well-done as this one is, the old naturally-aspirated V8 is just… trumped. The new 8-speed transmission shifts precisely and predictably, and almost seems to read my mind. Surprisingly, the big XJ managed to blow my mind by giving me 7.9L/100km highway and a combined 10.5L/100km. That’s even better than the little four-cylinder Ford Escape… from a Jaguar that weighs over 4,000 lbs. Insane. To make it even better though, Jaguar really needs to bring us the diesel offered in other parts of the world.
As an enthusiast, the one thing that continuously went through my mind during my time with the XJ was; why would I want to drive it hard? Driving down the highway just felt so right; so perfect. There is the option to put the Jag into “Dynamic Mode”, which, when combined with putting the shifter into “S”, makes the car wake up. The gauge cluster glows red and the paddle shifters allow you to drive spiritedly if you so choose. I can’t help but wonder why you’d want to though… driving this car hard is almost offensive to it. It handles surprisingly well for a car weighing as much as the Pyramids, but the Jag excels at comfort, not athletics.
I’ve driven more expensive, supposedly more ‘plush’ cars. I said last year that there isn’t really a wrong choice in the entire class of full-size luxury sedans, but they each have their own identity. There’s something about the Jaguar that just sets it apart from the pack, and no, it’s not the fact that it’ll probably break more than your average Lexus LS will. The British (Indian?) car has a certain characteristic about it that just makes it ooze class. There’s not one place where the Jaguar feels out of place. I parked it on the University of Toronto campus amongst the “lesser” student-owned cars, and the Jag got nothing but compliments. Even when pulling through a questionable street in Toronto’s Kensington Market, I managed to get a few thumbs-ups. Seriously, people love it, and it’s not exactly hard to see why.
In typical Jaguar fashion, the XJL is amongst the most comfortable cars available. My tester, for just over the $100,000 mark, came with a plethora of creature comforts that made it the ultimate chariot both for long hauls as well as daily driving. An entire cabin laced with leather and beautiful (real!) wood is present, as well as what is quite possibly the most beautifully designed dashboard currently on the market. While I miss the 1200W Bowers & Wilkins stereo in last year’s car, the new optional 825W Meridian system seems to do the job just as well.
As with any vehicle though, the Jaguar XJ has its flaws. For one, that Jaguar/Land Rover multimedia system needs to go. I recently played with its latest iteration in the new Range Rover, but in this Jag it’s much slower to respond, more agitating, and lacks some simplicity. Entering an address into the navigation becomes a 5-minute task at minimum. Unacceptable. Secondly, the Adaptive Cruise Control needs to be standard, not a $3,200 option.
My last gripe with the Jag is related to its aesthetics, and is my biggest one. On the trunklid, the last XJ only had the Jaguar “cat” in the centre, and a subtle badge on the left that said “XJ”. Now, under the logo, it says “JAGUAR”, on the left it says “XJ”, and on the right it says “3.0”. The overdose of badging makes the whole rear end look way too busy and kills the otherwise beautiful styling. While minor quips, it’s little things like this that add up and could make or break a deal; sending a potential customer over to Lexus or BMW.
With the Jaguar XJ’s most threatening competitor, the Mercedes S-Class, due for a redesign, the fine chaps over at Jag have to be ready to implement refreshes at the blink of an eye. Luckily, it’s safe to say that no matter what Mercedes-Benz decides to do with the upcoming S-Class, there is no way that it will be anywhere near as beautiful on the exterior as the XJ. Recently seen being driven by none other than James Bond in “Skyfall”, the XJ has technically achieved what every car aspires to achieve; the status of being a Bond car. That in itself speaks for the car’s true beauty and close proximity to perfection. Let’s see an Audi A8 pull that one off…
2013 Jaguar XJL AWD Gallery